2023: Why Emefiele Is Not Qualified To Run For Presidency – Falana

A file photo of Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele.
A file photo of Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has given reasons the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele is not qualified to run for Presidency, come 2023.

A statement by the lawyer said that the governor is supposed to resign since he has the constitutional right to participate in politics and contest elections, which he said is according to Section 11 of the CBN Act.

“Since he has the constitutional right to participate in politics and contest elections he is required by law to resign his appointment forthwith.

“If he does not call it quits with the CBN forthwith Mr. Emefiele should be removed by the President in line with Section 11 of the CBN Act and recommended for prosecution for conflict of interest before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

“Retaining Mr. Emefiele as the Governor of the CBN and presidential aspirant in the ruling party is going to have a more deleterious effect on the national economy that has been paralysed through the implementation of obnoxious monetary policies at the behest of imperialism”, he added.

Read Full Statement Below:

LEGAL HURDLES TO CROSS BY MR. GODWIN EMEFIELE

Last week, it was reported that a group of farmers had purchased the N100 million nomination form for the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele to enable him to contest the presidential primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC). While thanking his band of supporters, Mr. Emefiele did not hesitate to confirm his interest in the presidential race. According to him, “Should I answer their calls and decide to seek presidential nomination, I will use my own hard-earned savings from over 35 years of banking leadership (simulating the image of a public-spirited official) to buy my own Nomination Forms…This is a serious decision that requires God’s Divine intervention: in the next few days, (my italics) the Almighty will so direct.”

Apparently convinced that Mr. Emefiele is on strong legal ground, a newspaper has reported that his involvement in the race has caused jitters in the camp of other aspirants in the APC. But the supporters of the Governor have ignored section 9 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act which provides that: “The Governor and the Deputy Governors shall devote the whole of their time to the service of the Bank and while holding office shall not engage in any full or part-time employment or vocation whether remunerated or not except such personal or charitable causes as may be determined by the Board and which do not conflict with or detract from their full-time duties.” The provisions of section 18 (4) (b) of the Banks and are in pari materia with Section 9 of the CBN Act.

For the avoidance of doubt, the powers conferred on the Governor and the Board of the CBN under the CBN Act are enormous. They include the power to ensure monetary and price stability; issue legal tender currency in Nigeria; maintain external reserves to safeguard the international value of the legal tender currency; promote a sound financial system in Nigeria; and act as bankers and provide economic and financial advice to the Federal Government. In addition, the Banks and Financial institutions Act 2020 has empowered the Governor and CBN to grant and revoke licences of banks; supervise banks, dissolve Boards and Management of Banks, remove Managing Directors and other directors of Banks, sanction erring banks and officials, make rules that guide commercial banks, provide loan to Governments, set interest rates, serve as apex bank to other banks and ensure a cordial relationship with foreign banks. Furthermore, the Minister of Finance shall seek inputs from the CBN in preparing the Medium Term Expenditure Framework for the annual budget pursuant to the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.

The performance of these statutory functions which shall be in the national interest cannot be left in the hands of a politically exposed person. Hence, the Central Bank Act and Banks and Financial institutions Act provide that the bank shall be a fully autonomous body with the objective of promoting stability and continuity in economic management. Therefore, the involvement of the Governor in partisan politics will compromise the autonomy of the CBN. For instance, during the #endsars protests in October 2020, Mr. Emefiele held a secret meeting with some of the leading protesters. He tried in vain to prevail on the young men and women to end the protests. In a desperate bid to coerce the leaders of the #endsars movement to stop embarrassing the Buhari administration, Mr. Emefiele invoked his powers under the BOFIA by freezing the bank accounts of 20 leading protesters. He then proceeded to the Federal High Court where he secured an ex-parte order to justify the violation of the fundamental right of the protesters to property. Even though Mr. Emefiele wanted to extend the obnoxious ex parte order he was compelled to discontinue the suit when his use of the CBN to achieve his political objective was exposed in the media.

No doubt, the image of the CBN would have been more dented if the bank accounts of leaders of opposition political parties had been frozen for protesting the deleterious economic policies of the Buhari administration. No doubt, the discharge of the functions of the CBN Governor by a politically exposed person will certainly lead to a conflict of interest contrary to the provisions of Section 9 of the CBN Act, Section 18 (4) (b) of the BOFIA Act and Paragraph 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officer enshrined in Part 1 of the 5th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended. Since the governorship of the Central Bank is a full-time engagement it is submitted that Mr. Emefiele cannot go around wooing delegates to vote for him in the primary election of the ruling party. More importantly, the country cannot afford a situation whereby the Governor of the Central Bank will be tempted to dip into the till to fund his political campaign.

From the foregoing, Mr. Emefiele has a number of legal hurdles to cross to participate in the primary election of the ruling party. Having realised the criminality involved in accepting the Greek gift of the farmers the CBN Governor said that he would use his “hard-earned savings from over 35 years of banking leadership (simulating the image of a public-spirited official) to buy my own Nomination Forms”. However, since he has the constitutional right to participate in politics and contest elections he is required by law to resign his appointment forthwith. If he does not call it quits with the CBN forthwith Mr. Emefiele should be removed by the President in line with Section 11 of the CBN Act and recommended for prosecution for conflict of interest before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Retaining Mr. Emefiele as the Governor of the CBN and presidential aspirant in the ruling party is going to have more deleterious effect on the national economy that has been paralysed through the implementation of obnoxious monetary policies at the behest of imperialism.

Finally, it was reported that upon the purchase of the APC nomination form for Mr. Emefiele the naira was reported to have plunged to N591 to US$1 from N417 at the parallel market official rate. More disastrous consequences await the currency and the debt-ridden national economy if the Governor is allowed to continue to use his official position to prosecute his presidential ambition. However, while Mr. Emefiele is awaiting divine intervention it is pertinent to point out that by virtue of the combined effect of section 9 of the CBN Act and Section 18 of the Banks and Financial institutions Act 2020 it is the Board of the CBN that is competent to permit him to engage in politics or any other vocation. So far, the Board of the CBN has not authorised him to participate in the primary election of the ruling party. To that extent, he is disqualified from seeking any elective position in the primary election of any political party or in the general election.

Femi Falana SAN,
Chair, Alliance on Surviving
Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB)

May 9, 2023

2023: N100m Nomination Form Fee With Minimum Wage At N30k Is ‘Immoral’ – Falana

 

Human rights lawyer Femi Falana has faulted the N100m presidential nomination form fee set by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), describing it as “immoral” since the country’s minimum is N30,000.

Falana made the comment on Thursday, days after the APC fixed the prices for nomination forms for those vying for seats in the 2023 elections. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also pegged its presidential form fee at N40m.

“Those outrageous nomination fees are immoral, insensitive, and illegal,” he said during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today. 

“The immorality of it is that we have over 90 million Nigerians that have been classified poor. In a country where the minimum wage is about N30,000 and it is not paid by some states, you can’t say you are collecting N100 million or N40 million to purchase a form,” he explained.

According to him, the move violates the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Nigerian constitution.

READ ALSO[VIDEO] Why Jonathan Can’t Run For Presidency – Falana

“Again, section 42 of the Nigerian constitution provides that nobody shall be subjected to any restriction or discrimination on the basis of class, fortune, sex, or whatever,” the constitutional lawyer added.

“If these parties are saying they want to exclude unserious people, that if you cannot mobilise N100 million or N40 million, you cannot attain some positions in your country. That is discriminatory and illegal.

“No restriction can be erected to prevent you from participating in the politics of the country. You are now saying that the politics of the country is for moneybags or fat cats. That is against the spirit and the letters of the constitution.”

‘Not For The Rich’

Falana’s comment comes on the heels of debates about the prices for nomination forms by the APC.

But the party’s spokesman Felix Morka says the criticisms about the fees are not justified.

According to him, no economy anywhere else in the world is perfect and despite that, “there are people who still live opulent lives ad make legitimate money” in Nigeria.

“Our party is not for the rich,” he stated. “The party came to a decision that the value placed on these forms are justified”.

Kaduna Train Attack: Falana Accuses Amaechi, NRC MD Of Negligence, Calls For Their Prosecution

Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi visited the scene of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack on March 29, 2022.
Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi visited the scene of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack on March 29, 2022.

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Femi Falana has accused the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and the Managing Director (MD) of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Fidet Okhiria of negligence in the attack on a train plying the Abuja-Kaduna rail line.

He is also calling for their prosecution, according to a statement he issued on Monday.

The legal practitioner referenced reports of attacks on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line and accused the corporation and Amaechi of not taking enough measures to forestall the latest incident.

READ ALSO: Abuja-Kaduna Train Attack: ‘I Warned That Lives Will Be Lost’ – Amaechi

“Although both Messrs Amaechi and Okhiria knew that the Abuja-Kaduna train was not safe they kept on giving passengers a false sense of security.

“Since both of them knew that the tragedy that befell the nation last week was waiting to happen and did not adopt measures to prevent it, the President should direct the Inspector-General of Police to investigate and prosecute them for criminal negligence.

“Meanwhile, both of them should not be allowed to continue to risk the lives of train passengers in the country.”

He said contrary to claims by the NRC that there is no fraud in the sales of train tickets, a ticket racketeering syndicate was arrested in 2019. Since then, he said the NRC has not been able to crack down on other syndicates operating in the Abuja-Kaduna and Lagos-Ibadan train stations.

According to him, the corporation and the ministry is legally bound to bear the cost of treatment for those injured during the incident.

“It is indisputable that the loss of lives, personal injury, and abduction of passengers by the terrorists was caused ‘by want of reasonable care, diligence or skill on the part of the Corporation or its servants’,” he maintained.

“In other words, top officials of the Nigerian Railway Corporation and the Ministry of Transportation are liable for the criminal negligence that caused the bomb attack.”

Sylvester Oromoni: Coroner Fixes Date To Commence Inquest Into Cause Of Death

A combination of file photos of the front gate of Dowen College and Sylvester Oromoni.

 

The Coroner of the Epe District of Lagos, Magistrate Mikail Olukayode Kadiri has fixed Saturday, the 15th of January for the commencement of inquest into the cause of death of Sylvester Oromoni, a 12-year-old student of Dowen College, Lekki.

In a letter dated, 4th January 2022 and addressed to the law firm of Falana & Falana, the legal practitioners to the Oromoni family, the coroner said that the inquest will be conducted by 9:00 am prompt and the hearing shall be in open court.

Magistrate Kadiri also reminded the lawyers to file and serve depositions of all witnesses they intend to call at the inquest. They are also to forward to the coroner a list of persons whom in their opinion, need to be summoned by the court.

READ ALSO: Oromoni Sylvester: Family Reacts To Lagos Order On Release Of Suspects

The depositions may be filed at any of the magisterial districts in Lagos and served electronically on all parties concerned.

On December 6th, the law firm of Falana & Falana had written to the Chief coroner of Lagos, Justice Mojisola Dada to demand the inquest.

In response to the demand, Justice Dada had assigned the inquest to Magistrate Kadiri who had written to the law firm on December 7th and also gone ahead to fix a preliminary meeting for December 15, 2021.

Magistrate Kadiri will sit at the Magistrate Court No. 4, Chambers of the Coroner, Epe District, Combined High Court, and Magistrate Court of Lagos State, Epe.

Find below a copy of the letter signed, received on Thursday, January 6…

Attack On Justice Odili: Take Action Or Risk Further Assaults – Falana Charges NBA

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, says the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) must take decisive action to ensure that attacks on Judges by lawless political figures in the country become a thing of the past.

Falana, who was reacting to the latest attack on Justice Mary Odili by yet to be identified security operatives, said on Monday that the situation may degenerate further if it continues to be treated with kid gloves.

Unknown security officials had on Friday besieged the Abuja residence of the Supreme Court Justice, brandishing a search warrant that was found to contain irregularities.

Reacting to the development, Falana urged the NBA to ensure that the members of the legal profession who took part in the execution of the illegal search warrant are reported to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee.

“Otherwise, such attacks will continue to be unleashed on judges, from time to time, by the sworn enemies of the Rule of Law in the corridors of power,” Falana buttressed.

READ ALSO: Wike Gives FG 48-Hour Ultimatum To Probe Raid On Justice Odili’s Residence

Speaking further on the matter, Falana noted that this is not the first time the Justice has been assaulted, stressing that the laxity with which the earlier incidence was treated is the reason a repeat performance has been staged.

“On February 21, 2020, a gang of armed thugs invaded the residence of Justice Mary Peter-Odili at Abuja and subjected her to unwarranted intimidation.

“The protesters claimed that they were dissatisfied with her judgment in an appeal that was decided by a full panel of 7 Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

“At the material time, both the All Progressive Congress and the People’s Democratic Party pointed accusing fingers at each other. But the police and other security agencies ignored the calls for the investigation and prosecution of the criminal suspects who invaded the residence of the Justice.

“Since the armed thugs were treated like sacred cows last year, the Honourable Justice Mary Peter-Odili was subjected to further intimidation in the same house by a combined team of police and military personnel last Friday while executing a search warrant in respect of another property.

“The Magistrate who issued the warrant of arrest has turned round to revoke it on the ground that he was misled by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.

“Although the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the State Security Service have denied involvement in the intimidation of the Senior Judge, the Nigerian Army, and the Nigeria Police Force have not denied the presence of their personnel in the house.

“However, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN has not only denied involvement in the intimidation of Justice Peter-Odili, he has also directed the Police to investigate the circumstances surrounding the invasion,” Falana relayed.

He, however, advised that without prejudice to the official investigation into the issue, NBA must ensure that all legal practitioners who played a role in the assault on Justice Odili, are made to answer for their contribution to the intimidation of the judge.

Bandits Are Terrorists In Reality, Says Senator Bulkachuwa

 

Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa says bandits are no different from terrorists, insisting that both groups operate the same way. 

“We gave them the name bandit probably to just soft pedal because terrorism in the international arena is regarded as the most heinous crime that any group of people can engage in,” he told Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

“They are terrorists in reality. What else are they? Anybody that does not allow people rest, what is he?”

The Senator is one of the latest high-profile Nigerians to have joined calls for bandits and their sponsors to be tagged as terrorists.


Related:

Declare Bandits As Terrorists, Senate Tells Buhari
These Are Not Just Bandits, They Have Aligned With Terrorists – Gov Bello


‘Who Is A Bandit?’

A screen grab of Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics on October 3rd, 2021.

 

Earlier on Sunday, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana called on the media and Nigerians to stop referring to the criminals as bandits, insisting that they are terrorists.

According to him,  the government was “quick to proscribe” those who kidnapped students from Chibok in Borno State, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and others as terrorists but has continued to treat banditry “lightly”.

“But for reasons best known to the Federal Government,” he said, “the criminal elements who are currently involved in the brutal killing of innocent people and abduction of thousands of people including primary school pupils in the North West Zone are called bandits and not terrorists.”

The lawmaker concurred with the human rights activist.

“It is just giving them their right name,” he said, days after the House of Representatives and the Senate urged President Muhammadu Buhari to brand bandits and their sponsors as terrorists.

“They should be declared terrorists. After all, who is a terrorist and who is a bandit?”

According to the lawmaker representing Bauchi North, both bandits and kidnappers should be tagged as terrorists. This, he believes, will help in the fight against criminality in the country. 

“The bandits, the kidnappers, they are all terrorists,” he maintained. “They should be declared same so that whichever country they go to, they would be regarded as such.”

I Have Fundamental Disagreement With Those Calling For Nigeria’s Breakup – Falana

A file photo of Mr. Femi Falana.

 

 

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.

Igboho: No Law Allows Arrest At Dead Of Night – Falana

File photo of Femi Falana on Politics Today.

 

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.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Next President Should Emerge From The South – Southern Governors

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.

Police Should Apologise To Protesters Who Were Arrested On June 12

Withdraw Charges Against CJN, Falana Tells FG
Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana (file)

 

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.”

Suspension: FG Should Have Sued Twitter, Not Place A Ban – Falana

 

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.

READ ALSO: #TwitterBan: SERAP Drags FG To ECOWAS Court

Human Rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, speaks during an interview on Channels TV.

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.

Falana Reveals How FG Allegedly Frustrated Ibori’s Trial In UK

 

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).

READ ALSO: Ibori Loot Should Be Returned To Delta Govt, Says Falana

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)

Asking Buhari To Resign Is Not An Offence, Release Tanko-Yakasai – Falana

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

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)