It’s Time To Stop Official Impunity, Hypocrisy In Fight Against COVID-19 – Femi Falana

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, says it is time for those at the helms of affairs to stop the impunity and hypocrisy applied in the fight against COVID-19.

In his statement on Sunday, the rights activist was of the opinion that the rise in cases recorded in the country is due to the inconsistency of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Mr Falana also stated that the NCDC is not solely to be blamed for the increase, arguing that a lack of co-ordination on the part of the Federal government has contributed immensely to the inconsistencies experienced in the manner in which the crisis has been handled so far.

He urged the authorities to operate professionally henceforth and avoid bending the rules.

Below is a full statement by Mr Femi Falana (SAN).

The Corovirus pandemic appears to be on the ascendancy in Nigeria due to the inconsistency and double standards of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and lack of coordination on the part of the Federal Government in addressing the health crisis.

Without any scientific basis whatsoever the federal government decided to limit the imposition of lockdown to the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun States.

The other state governments decided to impose partial restrictions in their areas of jurisdiction in order to prevent the spread of COVID 19. However, northern governors have since announced their decision not to impose any lockdown on the region.

Based on that curious decision the members of the public have been mounting pressure on the governments of the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun States to lift the extended lockdown imposed by President Buhari on Monday, April 13, 2020.

While the NCDC has directed anyone who tests positive to COVID-19 to report for treatment in isolation centres for treatment and monitoring former Chief of Staff to the President, the late Mr. Abba Kyari. was allowed to be treated in a cardiological centre, a private hospital in Ikoyi, Lagos State.

Since then some influential people who tested positive to COVID-19 are said to have insisted on treatment in private hospitals without official authorisation.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kyari passed on last Friday. Embarrased by the unfortunate development the Lagos State Government was reported to have that the hospital was granted permission to treat COVID-19 patients. But the health minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has categorically asserted that :“As at today, there is no private hospital that has been accredited to manage Covid-19 case in Nigeria.

There is none in Abuja here that I know of. But I think Lagos is looking at some accredited hospitals and there is one large hospital in Lagos that has called me that it wants to become a Coronavirus treatment centre.”

Since no private hospital has been accredited by the NCDC to treat COVID-19 patients the death of Mr. Abba Kyari ought to be investigated by the Federal Government.

As if the fundamental breach of the rule of COVID-19 Guidelines on treatment of patients was not enough, a crowd was allowed to participate and witness the interment of the remains Mr. Kyari. Thus the NCDC Guideline that mass gathering be avoided to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 was violated with impunity.

Apart from defying the directive on social distancing some members of the crowd disregarded the wearing of face masks. And in a rather bizzaire manner, a man who had taken part in the burial ceremony pulled off his dress pulled off his Person Protective Equipment(PPE) and left it beside a car in Maitama District, Abuja.

Upon the conclusion of the burial ceremony video clips have been trending in the social media showing the crowd and the serial breaches of the NCDC Guidelines by highly placed public officers and other members of the public at the burial site.

Furthermore, even though the COVID 19 Guideline on social distancing has not been lifted some governors have suspended lockdown for Juma’at prayers at a time that the authorities in Saudi Arabia have banned any gathering for prayers and pilgrimages.

In view of recent reports which have confirmed community transmission of the cononavirus disease the lifting of the ban for religious purposes ought to be reviewed.

After all, the governments of Ondo and Rivers States which had lifted the ban on religious gathering for Easter celebrations had to reverse the decision based on the advice of the Nigerian Medical Association.

Having regards to the disturbing increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and the warning of health experts that the worst is not yet over in Nigeria the fight against COVID 19 should be carried out in a more organised manner by the Federal Government and the state governments. Since public hospitals are in shambles in Nigeria the NCDC cannot afford to combat COVID-19 in a slip shot manner.

The NCDC should henceforth operate without bending the rules to satisfy partisan political interests. In particular, the NCND must ensure that the burials of all other victims of COVID 19 are carried out in strict compliance with the prescribed rules and guidelines.

It is pertinent to point out that the NCDC Guidelines have the backing of the law as they have been incorporated in the 2020 COVID-19 Regulations made by President Buhari pursuant to the Quaratine Act, Cap Q2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

From the foregoing, it is indisputable that there is an obvious lack of a coherent COVID-19 policy. This puts to question dangerously the seriousness of the Federal Government in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

No doubt, President Buhari has paid glowing tribute to the late Mr. Abba Kyari. But the greatest tribute that can be paid to the deceased and the other 18 citizens that have lost their precious lives on account of complications arising from COVID-19 is for the Federal, State and Local Governments to embark on fixing and equipping public hospitals without any further delay.

Just last week, the British Prime Minister, Mr. Boris Johnson, who was discharged from a public hospital in London after his treatment for COVID-19, was full of adulation for the National Health Service(NHS) of his country. That should be a sober lesson for members of the ruling class in Nigeria who usually spend public funds on medical treatment in foreign medical centres.

DSS Does Not Necessarily Need Permission Of The President To Arrest Sowore – Presidency

 

 

The Presidency says the Department of State Services does not necessarily need the permission of President Muhammadu Buhari to arrest persons of interest like a detained activist, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.

This is according to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu.

In the statement, the president’s aide noted that the DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution – which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in our country in 1999.

Mr. Shehu further stated that it should not surprise anyone who has followed Sowore’s actions and words that the Sahara Reporters Publisher is a person of interest to the DSS.

He said Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.

“He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely-read digital newspaper run from the United States of America.

“He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, “Days of Rage”, with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow,” Garba Shehu said.

READ ALSO: Sowore’s Rearrest: US Govt Calls For Respect For Rule Of Law

The President’s spokesman argued that no government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilization in the country and do nothing.

He further stressed that Mr. Sowore is no ordinary citizen expressing his views freely on social media and the internet.

“He was a presidential candidate himself, who ran – and lost – as the flag bearer of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 23 general elections.”

The presidency via its spokesman noted that Nigeria’s democracy was a long time in the making and was achieved after decades of often harsh, military-led overthrows of government: the kind of situation which he claims Mr. Sowore was advocating.

He said, “To believe in and desire an armed revolution is not normal amongst ‘human rights activists’, as Sowore has been incorrectly described.

“Again, it is no surprise that he should be a person of interest to the DSS.

“Nigeria is already dealing with an insurgency that has left millions of people displaced and desperate in the northeastern region of our country.

“The Boko Haram militants, who are behind the violence, also fancy themselves to be fighting for some sort of revolution.

“Nigerians do not need another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives all in the name of ‘revolution’, especially not one that is orchestrated by a man who makes his home in faraway New York – and who can easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, to wit, Nnamdi Kanu.”

Mr. Shehu in his concluding argument said the Sowore case is a matter for the DSS, acting under its powers.

Human Rights Lawyer, Falana, Sues CBN Over Exchange Rate

Femi-FalanaHuman rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has asked the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to restrain the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from allowing market forces to determine the exchange rate of the naira.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also asked the court to direct the CBN to stop the use of the United States dollar as a legal tender in Nigeria.

The suit was filed on Wednesday, 24 February 2016 and is yet to be assigned to a judge for hearing.

In the suit, Mr Falana, alleged that the CBN’s monetary policy had led to a situation where too much naira was made to chase a few dollars with an attendant weaker naira and adverse multiplier effects such as rising inflation, closure of factories and high level of unemployment.

He also alleged that the CBN had so “dollarised the economy” that the foreign currency had now become legal tender with school fees and rents now being charged and paid in dollars to the detriment of the economy.

The Senior Advocate wants the court to make a declaration that by virtue of Section 16 of the CBN Act 2007, the CBN shall fix and determine the exchange rate of the naira by a suitable mechanism devised for that purpose.

PHCN Claims Property Forfeited By Cecilia Ibru

Five staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) on Wednesday urged the Appeal Court in Lagos to halt their ejection from a PHCN property forfeited to the federal government by former Managing Director of Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru.

The workers, in a notice of appeal, faulted Justice Okechukwu Okeke of the Federal High Court in Lagos for refusing to vacate his earlier order granting leave to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to take over the property.

Mrs. Ibru forfeited N191 billion worth of assets to the federal government as part of the plea-bargain arrangement following her conviction over corrupt practices in the bank.

AMCON had on March 6, 2013 forcefully ejected the PHCN workers from the property, which is located at 5A George Street, Ikoyi Lagos.

The PHCN workers, through their lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), had urged Justice Okeke to vacate the order on the ground that it was obtained by AMCON through fraud and suppression of material fact.

Mr. Falana had contended that the said property allegedly acquired by Mrs. Ibru, was at all times, the property of PHCN and so, Mrs Ibru had no right to forfeit the property to the federal government.

The workers are: Afolabi Dada, Charles Amadi, Lawan Muhammad, Comfort Odili-Iwuafor and Anthony Abikoye.

But Justice Okeke refused to vacate the order, saying it had already been executed, and as such he could not undue a completed act.

Dissatisfied, Mr. Falana and the plaintiffs approached the Appeal Court where they stressed that Justice Okeke erred in law, because there were exhibits before him to show that the ejection order was obtained by fraud.

Claiming that there were three pending suits on the subject matter, Mr. Falana urged the appellate court to stay further execution of the order, and also restrain AMCON and Deputy Sheriff of the Federal High Court from demolishing the property.

Prior to the filing of the appeal, Mr. Falana had also filed a motion before the lower court seeking for leave to appeal against the ruling and stay of execution.

AMCON’s alleged fraud

Mr. Falana, while arguing the motion for vacation of the ejection order, had told Justice Okeke that AMCON acted fraudulently when it obtained a court order which granted it leave to seal up the plaintiffs’ premises.

He also argued that while the ownership of the said property was still the subject of a pending litigation before the court, involving AMCON, the respondent had gone behind closed doors to obtain an order to levy execution on the property.

He told the court that in 2010, when a forfeiture order was made by Justice Daniel Abutu, to relinquish the said property to AMCON, the applicant filed a similar suit, seeking to set aside that forfeiture order.

Mr. Falana argued that despite AMCON’s knowledge of the pending suit before the court, it still went ahead to obtain an order to seal up the premises.

He told the court that the act of the respondent was fraudulent and should be set aside.

AMCON’s lawyer, Felix Azu (SAN) while responding to Mr. Falana’s argument, stressed that when the order for forfeiture was made, the applicants neither appealed the decision nor applied for a stay of execution of the order.

Mr. Azu said that by their inaction, they had represented that they had no intention to challenge the order.

He said that although the applicants had filed a suit to set aside the order made by Justice Abutu, the respondent was privy to that suit as no appeal had been made against the positive order of the court granted them.