Human rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has kicked against the breakup of Nigeria along ethnic lines.
Several groups including the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu and the Yoruba Nation agitators have campaigned for both Biafra and Oduduwa Republics.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday, Falana said he has a fundamental disagreement with secessionist groups in the country.
“Personally, I am strenuously opposed to the campaign for the balkanisation of Nigeria because I believe the masses of our people are oppressed by the ruling class and imperialism.
“To that extent, I have a fundamental ideological disagreement with those who are calling for the breakup of the country along ethnic lines.”
Speaking further, the senior lawyer explained that amid the agitations in some quarters that the nation should split, the Federal Government owes it a duty to convince the agitators by reposing confidence on the corporate existence of Nigeria.
While noting that it is not a criminal offence for some persons to make separatists demands, Falana said the current administration should respect human rights in line with Article 20 of the African Charter on Human Rights.
He added, “If a group of people decides to fight for the breakup of the country, the duty of the government is to try as much as possible to convince them to repose confidence in the corporate existence of Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the two major separatists – Igboho and Kanu – have been arrested and are facing trial both in the Benin Republic and Nigeria respectively.
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has reacted to the Department of State Services’ (DSS) raid on the house of popular Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo also known as Sunday Igboho.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television Programme, Politics Today, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria described the action of the security agents as a “nocturnal coup,” and stressed that no law allows arrest at the dead of the night.
He lamented that the raid, which was carried out around 1:00 a.m. on Thursday, last week is a dangerous legacy of military dictatorship in Nigeria.
“There is no law in Nigeria that allows you to arrest somebody in the dead of the night when you are not planning a coup and you are not an armed robber.
“These are very dangerous legacies of military dictatorship in our country.
“There is no provision unless a crime is being committed in the night; you cannot go there and arrest. In this case, you are required by law to bring a search warrant. In this case, there was no search warrant, nobody took an inventory.
“Now, Sunday Adeyemo has said I didn’t have any gun in my house. Yet, the SSS paraded guns and other ammunition. All the controversies would have been unnecessary if the SSS had behaved like a modern, civilised agency,” Falana said.
Falana also reacted to the decision of the Southern governors in Lagos State on Monday that security agencies must notify them as the chief security officer of their states before they carry out any operation within their domain.
According to him, the decision of the governors is late.
“It is a decision that is coming rather late. Governors are chief security officers of their states in line with the constitution. Each state has a security council and the governor is the chairman,” he said.
“The invasion of the home of Igboho happened in the night.
“You can’t have a situation where nocturnal arrests are made in a state as if you are planning a coup. Take Ibadan for instance, the invasion of the home of Igboho happened at the night and for all-day, everybody was wondering who did it and that seven people were killed.
“People were arrested and abducted at 2:00 a.m, the governor of the state wasn’t aware. So, everybody was trying to find out, calling security agencies, only for the State Security Service to issue a very provocative statement after almost 12 hours to say, ‘We did it, we killed two people, we raided a house.
“Somebody attempted to evade arrest and you killed two people? The governor of the state wasn’t aware?”
The Department of State Services (DSS) hours after an attack on the home of Yoruba Nation agitator in Ibadan, confirmed that a team of joint security operatives raided his home and arrested 13 of his armed men.
DSS Spokesman, Dr. Peter Afunanya told journalists that the raid was based on intelligence that Igboho was stockpiling arms to cause chaos within the region.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana has asked the Nigeria Police Force to apologise to protesters who were arrested during the June 12 nationwide protest on Saturday.
Mr Falana who is the interim chair of the alliance on surviving COVID-19 and beyond accused the police of violating the fundamental right of expression of the protesters.
“The police should learn to respect the constitutional rights of protesters. It’s uncivilised for the police to be chasing and attacking unarmed protesters on the streets as if these citizens are criminals,” Falana noted in a communique on Sunday.
He however commended the protesters for conducting themselves in a mature and peaceful manner.
Mr Falana also condemned the explanation of the police that the tear gas shot was to prevent hoodlums and miscreants from hijacking the peaceful rallies adding that there are lessons to take from that incident which he describes as unfortunate.
The rights activist urged future protesters to inform the police ahead of their action as demanded by law.
Meanwhile the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba says no protester was arrested on June 12.
In an interview with Channels Television on Saturday, the police spokesman justified the use of tear gas on protesters who took to the streets to mark Democracy Day by voicing their grievances against the government of the day.
According to Mr Mba, the actions of officers were in line with international best practices of dispersing violent protests.
The police shot teargas at protesters in Lagos and Abuja however, the Channels Television correspondents who covered the protest in Abuja did not observe any sign of violence from the protesters before the police disrupted their parade.
‘An isolated case’
According to Mr. Mba, the use of teargas was an isolated case in Abuja where protesters turned violent.
“We had an isolated case in Abuja where some of the protesters became unruly and in line with international best practices, police fired teargas at them,” he said. “And that is an acceptable mode of engaging violent protesters anywhere in the world, whether it is in Abuja, Lagos, Paris, London, or New York or California. That is internationally accepted.
“We would have problems if we had fired live bullets at them, but when you fire teargas at protesters to disperse them, you are not in breach of any known code, either nationally or internationally.
“I also want to use this opportunity to state clearly that no citizen, either in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, or anywhere, is currently in detention as a result of this isolated incident.
“As long as protesters conduct themselves within the confines of the law; they do not constitute themselves into a nuisance, they do not breach the rights of other citizens, they do not obstruct traffic, they do not compel other citizens to join their protests, the police will largely work with them.
“When you protest in contravention of this set of conditions I have given, clearly you are coming in direct conflict with the laws of the land, and the police will never stand by idly and watch you create problems for the entire polity.”
Targeted at IMN
Meanwhile, in a statement released on Saturday, the police in Abuja said it had dispersed protesters in an attempt to foil attempts by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) to “incite a public disturbance.”
“The FCT Police Command on Saturday, 12th June 2021 successfully restored calm at Apo-Gudu axis after professionally dispersing a protest by some members of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN)-Shiites and others targeted at inciting public disturbance and breaching public peace,” the statement, signed by spokesperson Yusuf Mariam, said.
“Consequently, the action of the Command was necessitated by the concerns of some agitated residents. However, no arrest was made.
“In view of the above, the Command wishes to state that it is committed to ensuring that FCT residents enjoy a hitch-free Democracy Day Celebration and will not hesitate to bring to book every person or entity that attempts to breach the peace or cause a breakdown of law and order in the Federal Capital Territory.
“The Command implores residents to remain calm and law-abiding while reaffirming its unwavering commitment to the protection of lives and property within the FCT.”
Human Rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, says the Federal Government erred in suspending Twitter operations in the country.
According to Falana, in a constitutional democracy, the government is not permitted to resort to self-help, which implies that rather than place a ban, the government is supposed to have “sued Twitter if the organization refuses to respond positively to the concerns of the government”.
According to the senior lawyer who was a guest on the Wednesday edition of Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, the Federal Government should either have sued Twitter in the United States of America or in Ghana where the microblogging service provider has its African headquarters.
The government had said that there has been a litany of problems with Twitter in Nigeria, labeling the platform as a place where misinformation and fake news spread, however, the ban on Twitter was only placed after President Buhari’s tweet referencing the civil war was deleted.
In his opinion, Falana said there is no ground on which the action of the government can be justified. The rights activist said 40 million Twitter subscribers in Nigeria cannot be disenfranchised over one person’s ego.
Falana’s statement comes just a day after some lawmakers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) staged a walkout during plenary at the House of Representatives.
The lawmakers staged the walkout after its caucus leader Kingsley Chinda was ruled out of order by Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, for asking the Federal Government to shelve the Twitter ban while the House conducts its investigation into the legality of the indefinite suspension.
Gbajabiamila’s decision did not go down well with some members of the opposition who in turn resorted to walking out of the plenary.
The PDP lawmakers also insisted that they would continue with their threat to go to court over the matter. They maintained their stand that the action of the government lowers the country’s image in the eyes of other democratic nations.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Femi Falana says the Federal Government earlier frustrated the trial of former Governor, James Ibori, in the United Kingdom.
On Sunday, the rights advocate alleged that the Nigerian Government through its Attorney-General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa, challenged the investigation of Ibori in the United Kingdom in 2009.
According to Falana’s statement titled ‘How FG Frustrated Ibori’s Trial in the UK’, the senior legal practitioner said a government that challenged the former governor’s investigation should not readily claim ownership of the funds recovered.
Falana in his communique noted that Aondoakaa had said the UK’s decision to probe Ibori was an insult to Nigeria’s sovereignty.
The SAN further wondered why President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to use General Sani Abacha’s loot to implement projects even though he (Buhari) has consistently said that the former Head of State never stole from the nation’s coffers.
The rights advocate went on to argue that the Delta State Government could not be denied the billions recovered from its former Governor, James Ibori, just because the state government once said Ibori never stole.
Below is the full communique as published by Mr Femi Falana, the Interim Chair, Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB).
In opposing my position on the legitimate right of the people of Delta State to the sun of £4.2 million confiscated and recovered from the Ibori loot some colleagues have argued that the fund should be forfeited to the Federal Government on the ground that the Uduagban regime had said that no money was missing from the coffers of the State Government. No doubt, the former Delta State Government had denied any loss of money during the proceedings of the Federal High Court for the confiscation of the $15 million bribe given to Mr. Nuhu Ribadu by Chief James Ibori. Hence, the presiding judge, Kolawole J. (now JCA) directed that the fund be paid into the Federation Account for distribution in line with the provisions of the Revenue Allocation Act. But the Delta State Government never said that the over £100 million confiscated from Chief Ibori in the London trial did not belong to the people of Delta State.
However, it is on record that the Federal Government openly opposed the trial of Chief Ibori in the United Kingdom. In fact, in utter breach of the provisions of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between Nigeria and the United Kingdom the then Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Michael Aondoakaa SAN rejected the request to make relevant documents available for the trial in the United Kingdom on the ground of sovereignty. In particular, Chief Aondoakaar refused to entertain the request of the UK Metropolitan Police and made under bilateral mutual assistance to Nigeria on the ground that the request was not made by the Home Office.
The request was to question Chief Ibori about his involvement in corruption and money laundering that occurred in the United Kingdom. Aondoakaa said: “I think Nigeria, as a sovereign nation, deserves some respect. They [the Metropolitan Police] knew they were wrong, otherwise why did they now write through the Home Office requesting mutual assistance to quiz a prominent Nigerian. … I cannot compromise the sovereignty of this country, if they make incompetent requests I will turn them down 20 times. Any request from Metropolitan Police would be refused by this office, period.” [See Kolawole Olaniyan, Corruption and Human Rights Law in Africa, Oxford: Hart, 2014, p 15]. Dr. Olaniyan criticised the use of “Sovereignty, technicalities, and ‘small details’” as justifications for refusing requests for mutual cooperation and assistance in cases of corruption involving high-ranking state officials.
Similarly, African representatives who participated in the negotiation of the UNCAC insisted that any reference to protection of sovereignty should not be interpreted in a way that would undermine the efforts of countries seeking to recover illicit assets. Article 51 of UNCAC on asset-recovery explicitly states that the return of stolen assets is “a fundamental principle of the Convention.” The effectiveness of the asset recovery provisions of UNCAC depends to a large extent on the measures for mutual legal assistance. Thus, states are required to establish a legal framework to enable them to provide assistance to other states in the recovery of assets acquired through corrupt practices recognised under the convention. To ensure effective international cooperation in the fight against corruption and money laundering, the UNCAC in article 60 requires states “to consider” various potential methods to provide technical assistance to each other in their plans and programs to prevent and combat corruption.
As far as international law is concerned the recovered fund belongs to the people of Delta State who are the victims of the corrupt practice of Chief Ibori. Having ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) both Nigeria and the United Kingdom are bound by Article 35 thereof which states that:”Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary, in accordance with principles of its domestic law, to ensure that entities or persons who have suffered damage as a result of an act of corruption have the right to initiate legal proceedings against those responsible for that damage in order to obtain compensation.”
The British Government is releasing the stolen money to Nigeria in strict compliance with international law and not out sheer generosity as erroneously argued by some lawyers. According to the travaux préparatoires to the UNCAC, “this article is intended to establish the principle that States Parties should ensure that they have mechanisms permitting persons or entities suffering damage to initiate legal proceedings, in appropriate circumstances, against those who commit acts of corruption.” Notably, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan aptly captured the growing international community’s concern with corruption and its negative impact on human rights during the 2003 adoption by the General Assembly of UNCAC when he said: “Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a Government’s ability to provide basic services.”
From the foregoing, it is undoubtedly clear that the huge success recorded in the prosecution of the case was anchored on the collaboration between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Metropolitan Police. To that extent, the Federal Government which had set out to frustrate the trial of Chief Ibori cannot turn round to lay claim to the fund confiscated on the orders of the British courts. Having regards to the facts and circumstances of the case the the Ibori loot belongs to the people of Delta State in toto under domestic and international law. After all, the Federal Government had handed over the fund stolen by two former governors, in similar circumstances, to the people of Bayelsa and Plateau States.
It is common knowledge that Nigeria through the EFCC has consistently returned huge sums of money recovered from local criminal elements convicted by Nigerian courts for swindling foreigners including European and Americans. Sometime in November 2005, the EFCC returned US $17 million to a Brazilian bank – the first instalment of $242 million siphoned by a group of Nigerian scammers to William Richey, a lawyer representing the defunct Banco Noroeste of Sao Paolo, Brazil. On that occasion, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu said that “By making this restitution to the victim of the scam we also want to send a strong, unequivocal message that we will no longer harbour such fraudulently acquired funds no matter where the victim is.” The return of the huge fund was based on the orders of forfeiture made by Olubunmi Oyewole J. (now JCA). But out of sheer colonial mentality, some lawyers are asking the Nigerian people to clap for the British Government for returning £4.2 million out of Ibori loot of over £100 million warehoused illegally in the United Kingdom in defiance of the money laundering laws of that country. It is interesting to note that many Nigerian lawyers are not aware that banks and other financial institutions in the United Kingdom have recently been ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars as damages for aiding and abetting corrupt public officials and drug barons who live in foreign countries.
Finally, no doubt, the former Delta State Government was irresponsible to have denied that Chief Ibori looted the treasury of the State at the material time. But such denial cannot be a justification for the confiscation of the Ibori loot of over £100 million that is expected to be repatriated to Nigeria by the British Government. After all, before his assumption of office as President in May 2015, General Mohammadu Buhari had repeatedly maintained that the late General Sani Abacha did not steal a dime from the account of the Federal Government. But the Federal Government under the President’s watch has continued to recover the remaining Abacha loot and no one has suggested that such recovered loot be paid to the account of the United Nations or African Union on moral grounds.
Femi Falana SAN, Interim Chair, Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB)
A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), says it is no crime for any citizen to call for President Muhammadu Buhari’s resignation.
Falana’s statement is not unconnected to the arrest of Salihu Yakasai, a former special adviser on Media to Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.
State security operatives reported arrested Yakasai shortly after criticizing President Buhari on Twitter.
Reacting to the arrest, Falana condemned the action of the Department of State Services stating that there is no justification for the arrest and detention of Yakassai.
In a statement titled, ‘Asking Buhari to Resign is Not An Offence’, the rights activist noted that many politicians and activists have continued to call for Buhari resignation due to the deteriorating security situation across the country.
He further argued that in the past those who called for the resignation of former presidents did not get intimidated nor arrested.
“It is on record that the APC and its leaders including General Mohammadu Buhari; National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinibu; Malam Nasir El-rufai and Alhaji Lai Mohammed repeatedly called for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s resignation between 2013 and 2014. Yet they were never subjected to any form of intimidation for exercising their freedom of expression at the material time. Since the call for President Buhari’s resignation is likely to continue to be made by other concerned individuals and groups over the virtual collapse of the security architecture.”
Falana demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Tanko-Yankassai from illegal custody.
He however noted that if the State Security Service has evidence that the “political detainee” has committed any criminal offence known to the law, then he should be transferred to the police for proper investigation and possible prosecution.
Below is the right advocate’s full statement regarding Salihu Yakasai’s arrest.
On Friday, February 27, 2021, Mr. Salisu Tanko-Yankassai, the Special Adviser on Media to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state called on President Mohammadu Buhari to either guarantee the security of the Nigerian people or resign from office. Even though Mr. Tanko-Yankassai was legitimately exercising his freedom of expression enshrined in section 39 of the Constitution he was sacked by Governor Ganduje and arrested by the State Security Service. ASCAB has confirmed that Mr. Tanko- Yankassai is being held incommunicado in an undisclosed detention facility.
Having regard to the fact that civil rights advocates, retired military officers, and political party leaders including chieftains of the All Progressive Congress have repeatedly asked President Buhari to call it quits due to the worsening insecurity in the country there is no justification whatsoever for the arrest and detention of Mr. Tanko- Yankassai. In both Chambers of the national assembly there have been strident calls by legislators for President Buhari’s resignation or impeachment on the ground that criminal gangs have taken over the monopoly of violence in the country. Since such concerned citizens were never arrested the ongoing harassment of Mr. Tanko- Yankassai is high handed, discriminatory and illegal.
It is on record that the APC and its leaders including General Mohammadu Buhari; National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinibu; Malam Nasir El-rufai and Alhaji Lai Mohammed repeatedly called for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s resignation between 2013 and 2014. Yet they were never subjected to any form of intimidation for exercising their freedom of expression at the material time. Since the call for President Buhari’s resignation is likely to continue to be made by other concerned individuals and groups over the virtual collapse of the security architecture of the neocolonial State it is pertinent to draw the attention of the State Security Service to the case of Arthur Nwankwo v The State 1985 6 NCLR 228 where the Court of Appeal charged the Nigerian people to engage in relentless criticism of democratically elected governments. In particular, Olajide Olatawura JCA (as he then was of blessed memory) had this to say:
“The decision of the founding fathers of the present Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech which must include freedom to criticise should be praised and any attempt to derogate from it except as provided by the constitution must be resisted. Those in public office should not be intolerant of criticism in respect of their office so as to ensure that they are accountable to the people. They should not be made to feel that they live in an ivory tower and therefore belong to a different class. They must develop thick skins and where possible, plug their ears with wool if they feel too sensitive or irascible.”
In view of the foregoing, we demand for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Tanko-Yankassai from illegal custody. However, if the State Security Service has evidence that the political detainee has committed any criminal offence known to law he should be transferred to the Police for proper investigation and possible prosecution without any delay.
Femi Falana SAN, Interim Chair, Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB)
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stay out of politics and stick to the business of banking.
Falana’s call was made in reaction to the unfreezing of bank accounts belonging to 20 #EndSARS promoters.
Following the #EndSARS protest that rocked the nation in October 2020, the CBN obtained an injunction from the court to freeze the accounts of certain individuals and a public affairs company linked to the #EndSARS protests, a move which Mr. Falana describes as a case of intimidation.
The human rights lawyer who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily argued that the apex bank went out of its way.
“I do hope that sufficient lessons have been learnt particularly by the Central Bank to desist from jumping into the political arena by attempting to freeze the accounts of people who are involved in the struggle one way or the other against the government,” he stated.
Falana further argued that the CBN misled the court into believing that some grave offenses had been committed, which would require time to run an investigation.
He however noted that no offense was committed and no attempt was made by the Central Bank to investigate any individual.
The lawyer urged the CBN to be more circumspect in the future, adding that the individuals whose accounts were frozen will be going to court to challenge the “gross violation” of their rights to their property.
President Buhari Tolerated Excesses Of #EndSARS Protesters – Malami
While Mr. Falana argues that the rights of the #EndSARS campaigners were infringed, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, says President Muhammadu Buhari tolerated the ‘excesses’ of #EndSARS protesters in the country, back in October 2020.
According to the AGF, that, among other actions of the president is proof of his leniency, despite what he termed as “human rights violations” in the country.
Mr. Malami said this on Wednesday while addressing a number of issues from the government’s reaction to the #EndSARS protests, to the appointment of new service chiefs, the extension of the appointment of the Inspector-General of Police, among others.
“As far as Human Rights records of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is concerned, the fact speaks for itself, the commendation by the international body which is the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, local compliance with the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission, which has been unprecedented, tolerance and indeed, accommodation for the excesses of the #EndSARS protesters were all facts that go to establish a point that the government of President Buhari has shown greater accommodation of the human rights violation and the tolerance to the human rights record as far as the Nigerian State is concerned,” the AGF said on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
According to him, “no nation in the world could have tolerated the idea of destruction to its security institutions”.
“I think over 20 police stations or more — I’m not certain about the number, they can be more — were destroyed during #EndSARS protests and government has a responsibility to ensure the protection of lives and freedom of movement.
“We are confronted with a situation whereby #EndSARS protesters blocked roads, caused mayhem, caused deaths, caused destruction, and they were significantly tolerated to a certain extent,” he added.
Meanwhile, the AGF also reacted to the court order on the Central Bank of Nigeria to unfreeze bank accounts of #EndSARS promoters.
He explained that the law provides the Federal Government with other options which include the right to challenge or exercise further considerations on the matter if the need arises.
Human Rights Lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), says the nation has continued in its habit of operating under an atmosphere of impunity.
Speaking on the appointment of the new Service Chiefs, Mr. Falana said going on to appoint the new leaders of the Armed Forces without the confirmation by the two chambers of the National Assembly, constitutes a disregard for the rule of law.
Mr. Falana who was a guest on Channels Television Sunrise Daily said the provisions within section 218 of the constitution empower the National Assembly to approve the appointment of the Service Chiefs.
According to the rights lawyer, the new service chiefs have only been nominated by the president and are awaiting confirmation by the legislators.
Falana was of the opinion that the whole essence of a presidential system of government is to ensure that there are checks and balances.
“Section 18 of the Armed Forces Act makes provision for both chambers of the National Assembly to approve the appointments of Service Chiefs.
“These laws were interpreted in the case of Festus Keyamo versus the President of Nigeria and the decision was rendered in 2018 by retired Justice Adamu Bello.
“The government did not appeal that judgment, in that case, the court held that by the combined effect of section 218 of the constitution and section 18 of the Armed Forces Act, the National Assembly shall approve or confirm the appointment of Service Chiefs.”
According to the Senior Advocate, these laws have not been obeyed in the latest appointment of Service Chiefs by the president.
Repeated calls and appointment of new service chiefs
President Buhari on Wednesday accepted the immediate resignation of the former leaders of the armed forces and appointed new officers as replacements.
Major-General Leo Irabor replaced General Abayomi Olonisakin as Chief of Defence Staff; Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao replaced Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo replaced Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas as Chief of Naval Staff; while General Ibrahim Attahiru replaced Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai as Chief of Army Staff.
The replacement of the Service Chiefs came after numerous calls for their sack over the increasing insecurity in the country.
But despite debates over the reason behind the replacement, the Presidency has maintained that it was considered the best decision for the country at the moment.
President Buhari appreciated the outgoing Service Chiefs for what he calls their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to our dear country,” wishing them well in their future endeavours.
Human rights lawyer Femi Falana, SAN, on Wednesday carried out a scathing review of the Nigeria Police, tracing the reason behind the rights violations, extortion, and brutality that has sparked protests across the country.
During an appearance on Politics Today, via a Skype call, the senior advocate traced the problem to how policemen and women are trained for their roles.
It is a process he believes is archaic and leaves officers with “no idea of human rights, human relations”.
“We are really not addressing the problems,” he warned referring to efforts made to reform the police.
“The training of the police is colonial; completely primitive. A man joining the Police Force, he goes to the police college. A woman goes to the police college dehumanised. A cannot make her hair; she has to cut her hair. A man has to shave his hair to the skull. The feeding is bad.”
Falana’s comments come amid widespread protests against police brutality, especially the activities of the now-dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad that became notorious for extortion, assault, and killings.
The human rights lawyer who has repeatedly condemned rights violations by the police is not, however, surprised by the terror unleashed on citizens by members of the unit and many of their colleagues in the force overtime.
Police training in the country, he said, prepares them to disregard rights.
“They are trained like colonial policemen to brutalise the society and that is what is going on,” he said.
And it is not just starting.
According to him, as far back as the Second Republic, issues of extrajudicial killings had emerged with the Nigerian Mobile Police unit at the receiving end of allegations of brutality.
“So, those who are in mobile unit – we used to call them kill and go in the Second Republic under IGP (Sunday) Adewusi (in office from 1981-1983), that has transformed into SARS.”
The brutality as far as Falana is concerned is implanted in their psyche at the police college.
“What is the training in the college? They (trainees) are teargassed in rooms without windows. And for them (the authorities) that is the way to train them. They are beaten, tortured, and the feeding is bad,” he said.
“So when the man or the woman comes out of the college, he wants to brutalise the society that dehumanised him in the college.”
Then there is the issue of poor salaries and welfare with barracks and stations denied adequate funding.
“Police stations are not funded. So, daily, to run the station, the DPOs depend on extortion of money from the public, from suspects,” Falana added.
“Some stations are not built by the government but by members of the community.”
Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana, has faulted the Federal Government for setting up a new unit called the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team, to replace the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Unit (SARS).
During an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today on Wednesday, Falana said a change of name was not enough and it appears there’s no indication that the government is prepared to respect the rights of Nigerians.
“As far as I’m concerned, so far, we are only scratching the surface of the problem and there’s been no indication that the government is prepared yet to respect the rights of the Nigerian people embodied in the constitution and other statues,” he said.
Just like many other Nigerians, Mr Falana believes that the problems go beyond a name change and, therefore, more concrete steps ought to be taken to bring about real change to policing in Nigeria.
“For me, it is not actually the name that matters and I think what the youths are saying is that beyond renaming, they want to see concrete steps taken to show that it is not going to be business as usual when it comes to policing in Nigeria,”.
The lawyer challenged state governors to also rise up to the occasion by doing all within their power to ensure the safety of its residents, rather than solely relying on the Federal Government.
“It is supposed to be a joint responsibility,” he said.
Speaking further, Falana said Nigerians owe the youths a lot of gratitude for “the peaceful manner in which they have carried out the protests and also for waking all of us up to our responsibilities”.
President Buhari is seeking confirmation of Mrs Lauretta’s appointment as a National Commissioner for INEC, representing Delta State.
He made this known in a letter written to the Senate on Tuesday, which was later read by Senator Ahmed Lawan at plenary.
The President is also seeking confirmation of the appointment of three other; Professor Mohammed Sani (Katsina); Professor Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti), and Seidu Ahmed (Jigawa).
See full statement below:
MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS OF POLITICAL PARTIES ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO BE INEC COMMISSIONERS
In view of the desire of President Muhammadu Buhari to fill some vacancies in the Independent National Electoral Commission it has become pertinent to draw the attention of the Council of State and the Senate to the following provisions of the Constitution:
1. In appointing the members of the INEC the President is required to consult with the Council of State pursuant to section 154 (3) of the Constitution;
2. Paragraph B of Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution provides that “The Council of State shall have power to advise the President in the exercise of his powers with respect to (iv) the Independent National Electoral Commission including the appointment of the members of the Commission.
3. Pursuant to section 154 (1) of the Constitution, the appointment of the members of the Independent National Electoral Commission shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate;
4. Paragraph 14 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution as amended by Section 30, Act No 1 of 2010, a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission “shall be non-partisan”.
From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that a card-carrying member of a registered political party or a well known supporter of a particular political party is constitutionally disqualified from the membership of the Independent National Electoral Commission. As an unrepentant member of the ruling party Mrs Loretta Onochie has consistently attacked members of other political parties. To that extent, she is partisan and therefore not qualified to be a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Femi Falana SAN
Interim Chair, Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB)
#SARSMUSTEND PROTESTS CONTINUE ACROSS NIGERIA.
A presidential panel on Tuesday approved the demands of #SARSMUSEND protesters, including halting the use of force against protesters and the unconditional release of arrested citizens.
The proposed Infectious Diseases Bill co-sponsored by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and two of his colleagues has been described as superfluous, illegal and unconstitutional.
Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, told Channels Television on Wednesday that the efforts to replace the Quarantine Act was a waste of time as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention Act of 2018 has taken care of what the lawmakers are trying to achieve.
Mr Falana, who spoke about the controversial bill during an appearance, via Skype, on Politics Today, said, “It is pertinent to inform Nigerians that in November 2018, a law was enacted in this country – the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control Act, NCDC Act, which has taken care of infectious diseases in the country.
“So, it is not correct, in fact, it is misleading on the part of the House of Representatives to say that it is amending the 1926 Quarantine Act because there is already a development between 1926 and now. You had the 2018 Act which has taken care of the entire provisions of the new bill.
“The new bill, as far as the law is concerned, is superfluous. Its provisions are largely illegal and unconstitutional.”
A close look at some sections of the said Act shows that the legislation empowers the NCDC to prevent, detect, monitor and control of national and international public health importance.
The law also empowers the NCDC to develop and coordinate capabilities, measures and activities to control outbreaks and mitigate the health impact of public health disasters.
As Nigeria battles the raging COVID-19 pandemic, several measures have been implemented to halt the spread of the virus which has infected 2,950 people in the country and claimed 98 lives.
The introduction of the infectious disease bill has, however, proved controversial with many calling for it to be dumped.
On Tuesday, in reaction to the controversy surrounding the bill, Mr Gbajabiamila defended it, saying it was conceived in public interest.
Gbajabiamila while addressing his colleagues at the resumption of plenary noted that since the introduction of the Bill a week ago, it drew a barrage of criticisms against it, with allegations of sinister motives.
“None of these allegations are true. Unfortunately, we now live in a time when conspiracy theories have gained such currency that genuine endeavours in the public interest can quickly become mischaracterised and misconstrued to raise the spectre of sinister intent and ominous possibility,” he said.
“This House of Representatives will never take any action that purposes to bring harm to any Nigerian here at home or abroad. As we have thus far shown by our conduct, the resolutions and actions we take in this 9th House of Representatives will always be in the best interests of the Nigerian people who elected us, and no one else.
“In the recent uproar, certain fundamental truths have been lost and are worth remembering. Our current framework for the prevention and management of infectious diseases is obsolete and no longer fit for purpose.
“The current law severely constrains the ability of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to take proactive action to prevent the entry into Nigeria of infectious diseases and the management of public health emergencies when they occur,” he said.