Falana Calls For Probe Of Conditions In Nigeria’s $79bn Foreign Loans

 

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Femi Falana has called on the National Assembly to probe the conditions of Nigeria’s foreign loans totalling about $79.5bn.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday, Falana wondered why much emphasis should just be on the $3.1billion to be secured from China.

According to him, the masses are being misled by leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and those of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

READ ALSO: WAEC: Kano Govt To Reopen Schools On August 10

“We are being misled. What is the basis of this cessation about Chinese loan which is only $3.1billion out of $79billion loan?

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

“Why are we not talking about the remaining $76billion whose conditionality is much worse than the Chinese loans we are talking about?

“So, why don’t you look at the entire loan portfolio? Look at the conditions. For instance, some of the western loans are to the effect that the government should increase electricity tariff, increase fuel price and so on and so forth,” he said.

Falana also knocked the federal lawmakers for “not complaining about those multiple taxations dictated by western imperialism.”

While admitting that every country has the right to enter into an agreement with issues relating to loans, the senior lawyer maintained that the National Assembly is required by law to look at the terms and conditions.

In doing this, Falana asked the Ministry of Justice to always scrutinise the terms and conditions of the agreements to the benefits of all Nigerians.

Falana-Led Coalition Demands Full Details Of FG Loans

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

A coalition led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has called on the Federal Government to make full public disclosure of all loans obtained by the country.

It has the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, and President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, as co-chairmen.

In a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Adewale Adeoye, the Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) said it would challenge the authorities in court if the disclosures were not made.

It also appealed to the National Assembly to reveal the terms and conditions of all external loans.

The coalition, which comprises labour and some 80 civil society groups, added that if the National Assembly fails, the Debt Management Office should publish the terms and conditions of all external loans or face legal fireworks.

It decried that Nigeria’s debt profile which was N12.118 trillion as of May 2015 has leaped to N27.401 trillion in 2019, representing more than 100 per cent debt increase.

The coalition said recent revelation at the National Assembly has confirmed the fact that the loans were taken without proper public scrutiny, claiming that a Committee of the House of Representatives was feigning ignorance of the terms and conditions attached to a particular loan agreement.

It stressed that the huge debt being incurred for Nigeria has the potential of stifling the prospect of economic liberation and political freedom of the people.

 

Apology To Nigerians

ASCAB stated that within one year, the National Assembly has approved a total of $28 billion for President Muhammadu Buhari with no commensurate improvement in the quality of lives of many Nigerians.

“Millions of Nigerians continue to face harsh economic difficulties, lacking access to basic needs, yet the debt profile of the country continues to increase.

“It is even more grievous that the government continues to take loans on behalf of the people without their consent, neither their keen understanding of the terms,” it said.

ASCAB also alleged that the National Assembly appeared desperate to pull the wool over the face of Nigerians by covering up its tracks regarding the clause in the Chinese loan.

A file photo of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

“The opaque nature of the loans is against the principles of the Nigerian Constitution,”  ASCAB said citing  Section 21(1) of the Debt Management Office Establishment (ETC) Act, 2003 (DMO Act) which states that no external loan shall be approved or obtained by the Minister “unless its terms and conditions shall have been laid before the National Assembly and approved by its resolution.”

The group also cited Section 41 (1a) of the FRA which states that “Government at all tiers shall only borrow for capital expenditure and human development, provided that, such borrowing shall be on concessional terms with low interest rate and with a reasonable long amortisation period subject to the approval of the appropriate legislative body where necessary.”

The coalition insisted that the National Assembly has breached the provisions of section 21 (1) of the Debt Management Office Establishment (ETC) Act, 2003.

“Instead of grandstanding over the matter, the members of the National Assembly ought to apologise to the Nigerian people and proceed to scrutinise the terms and conditions of all other external loans,” ASCAB said.

 

Jumbo Loans

The loans taken by Nigeria from China sparked a public outcry last week when a clause that was alleged to have compromised Nigeria’s sovereignty was discovered.

According to the Debt Management Office, the total value of loans taken by Nigeria from China as of March 31, 2020, was $3.121 billion – an indication that the Chinese loan was some 3.94 per cent of Nigeria’s total public debt of $79.303 billion as of March 31, 2020, while external sources of funds, loans from China accounted for 11.28 per cent of the external debt profile of $27.67 billion at the same date.

The loans were obtained with interest rates of 2.5 per cent per annum and to be paid in 20 years with a moratorium of seven years.

The coalition said it was important to ask whether Nigeria really needed the “jumbo loans” when sources of boosting public funds were either yet to be fully explored or completely ignored.

“The most fundamental issue is whether we really need these jumbo loans. In October 2018, the Supreme Court of Nigeria directed the Federal Government to recover royalties that were not paid for 18 years by the multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria. The said royalties have been confirmed to be $62 billion,” the group said.

A file photo of a courtroom at the Supreme Court complex in Abuja. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

ASCAB listed some of the loans collected by the government to include the February 2018 Eurobond worth $2.5 billion loan, the September 2018 loan of $328 million, $5.3 billion from Chinese Export-Import Bank, $2.36 billion to finance aspects of the 2020 budget while another $5.513 billion was sought to finance the 2020 revised budget.

 

Level Of Poverty

The Senate had also approved N850 million and another $22.79 billion for President Buhari currently pending at the parliament.

ASCAB, therefore, warned the National Assembly to desist from approving loans for payment of the unapproved salaries of legislators and pension of former governors.

They insisted that such contravened Section 41 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act which has restricted governments at all levels to “borrow for capital expenditure and human development”.

“The country’s level of poverty continues to increase with the skyrocketing loans obtained by the Federal Government.

“Poverty, extreme hunger, frivolous lifestyle of public office holders, continue to fuel violence and public disorder across the country.

“While the government has responded effectively to the needs of public officials including members of the National Assembly, the economic and social needs of the people remain a mirage,” the coalition said.

Kaduna Killings: Clearly, The Federal Government Has Shown Lack Of Capacity – ASCAB

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

The killings in Kaduna has the potential of leading to a round of national crisis that may threaten the fabric of democracy in the country, the Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, (ASCAB) warned on Sunday.

The coalition of labour and over 80 civil society groups also blamed the Federal Government for the mayhem adding that the central authority has the constitutional responsibility to ensure the protection of lives and properties everywhere in the country.

It said the mayhem in Kaduna only reflects the community version of the growing culture of brigandage within the political class.

Last Friday scores of people were killed in Southern Kaduna by armed groups. Katsina, Zamfara and many States on North Central have seen a string of bloodletting in recent months.

On Sunday, the killings in Southern Kaduna continued. At 6am Fanstwam natives of Zipkak, a semi-urban town in Fanstwam Chiefdom, Jemaa LGA in Southern Kaduna, fled their homes when armed groups invaded their communities again.

The killings did not abate inspite of curfew impose in the area by the State Government to curb revenge killings among the multi-ethnic Southern Kaduna territories.

The latest incidence took place in Zikpak, some two kilometres away from Kafanchan where a large consignment of soldiers is camped.

READ ALSO: 601 Repentant Boko Haram Members Graduate From DRR Camp Set For Integration

ASCAB in a statement signed by its Chairman, Mr Femi Falana, (SAN) on Sunday said it is undoubtedly clear that the Federal Government has shown a lack of capacity to deal with the sad events.

Falana said the Federal Government appears to be running out of ideas in bringing an end to violence and armed brigandage constantly recorded in Kaduna and other affected states.

It said the violence in the North East has spread to the North Central and the North West warning that if unchecked, it might threaten peace and coexistence across the country and set the nation on the path of ruin

“Corruption, politics of exclusion, growing unemployment, and lack of creativity continue to fuel public resentment across the country backed by an increasing breakdown of public trust in those holding public officers. The situation has been compounded by weak institutions and inept leadership both at the state and national levels” ASCAB said.

It said the lack of opportunities, poverty, and the imposition of tough economic measures on Nigerians are partly responsible for prejudices, hate, and expression of violence found in many communities in Nigeria.

“Nigeria is fast becoming a state of blood where human lives no longer matter. It is unfortunate that while the Federal Government invests billions of naira in the procurement of arms to fight violence, it has failed to develop an appropriate economic roadmap to deal with one of the root causes of violence which is poverty.”

It also warned that unending violence and banditry will help the spread of coronavirus thereby putting the lives of many people in the North in danger.

“Violence and killings have seen the emergence of several refugee camps and the flee of health workers in vulnerable communities. Territories ravaged by killings will naturally disregard the rules necessary for the prevention of COVID-19. This only means that as long as instability continues, the prospect of livelihood and effective public health protection is dim.”

It said it is public knowledge that many states in the country including Katsina where President Mohammadu Buhari comes from are at the mercy of terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, and criminal gangs.

It said that though the Federal Government continuously assures Nigerians of the safety of lives and property, the guarantee has become a mirage in the face of ceaseless attacks.

The group said the country has continued to witness massacres of defenseless citizens and that the number of arms in the hands of non-state actors is alarming.

“Several survivors are currently in IDPs. These include children and women. These children are denied education and the basic necessities of life necessary for their growth in the first years of their lives.”

ASCAB said many Nigerians are fleeing to the neighbouring African States due to the fact that their homeland has failed to procure peace for them.

It condemned the statement credited to the Federal Government that “From available security records, the problem in Southern Kaduna is an evil combination of politically-motivated banditry, revenge killings and mutual violence by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds”. It described such statements by the FG as an indication that those in power are not in touch with the people.

ASCAB said since President Mohammadu Buhari is the Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed forces, the President is under a legal obligation to end the violence.

SOWORE: I Rebuffed Isa Funtua’s Condescending Statement, Rejected His Offer – Falana

 

Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has revealed that he rejected an offer asking his client Omoyele Sowore to apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari, in a bid to get released from custody, when the Sahara Reporters publisher was detained in 2019. 

Mr Falana in a statement on Thursday stated that he rejected the offer as presented by a government delegation comprising the late Isa Funtua and two others.

According to his statement titled, “On the collapse of secret meetings designed to compromise Omoyele Sowore in custody”, Falana did not only reject the offer, but he also rebuffed a rather ‘condescending’ statement by the late Isa Funtua, who was of the opinion that the regime in power could not be defeated.

“In fact, when the late Alhaji Isa Funtua said rather condescendingly at the Lagos meeting that the regime in power could not be defeated I was quick to remind him that the Nigerian people had defeated military dictators to pave way for the current civilian dispensation,” the rights activist stated.

Falana further revealed that he also rejected the delegation’s request to have Sowore, who was in detention, to write an undertaking to desist from further embarrassing the Federal Government.

READ ALSO: Magu’s Probe Is A Question Mark On EFCC, Says Falana

Below is the full statement as published by Mr Femin Falana.

ON THE COLLAPSE OF SECRET MEETINGS DESIGNED TO COMPROMISE OMOYELE SOWORE IN CUSTODY

In a deliberate attempt to distort the proceedings of the secret meetings held by representatives of media publishers and officials of the presidency with Mr. Omoyele Sowore in the dungeon of the State Security Service last year Mr. Garba Shehu has continued to give the highly erroneous impression that the deal struck with the captive was frustrated by his lawyer.

Since Mr. Shehu’s memory failed him in his jejune narrative he said that “The meeting ended well, and contrary to the posturing by Sowore, he said he was happy with a resolution proposed but that his lawyer, whoever that was, needed to come on board.

The fence-mending process collapsed after the meeting of the trio with the lawyer in Lagos.” Mr. Shehu ought to have published the terms of the “resolution” which he claimed that Mr. Sowore had accepted instead of of blaming the collapse of the “fence-mending process” on the intransigence of his lawyer “whoever that was (sic)”

I confirm that I held a meeting with the trio referred to by Mr. Shehu even though he did not mention my name.

Hence, I am compelled to react to a couple of issues raised in his incendiary account. More so that he did not attend the Lagos meeting. For reasons best known to Mr. Shehu he refused to inform the Nigerian people that I rejected the gratuitous request to prevail on Mr. Sowore to apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari and write an undertaking to desist from further embarrassing the federal government.

Apart from insisting that my client had committed no offence by exercising his freedom of expression over the perilous state of the nation I expressed my personal agony over the request because I won the legal battle wherein the Court of Appeal had upheld the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to protest against the government without police permit.

Mr. Shehu ought to have equally disclosed that I demanded for the unconditional release of my client from the unlawful incarceration of the State Security Service.

In particular, I recalled the case of Isa Funtua v The President wherein the plaintiff had challenged the obnoxious newspaper registration decree enacted by the Ibrahim Babangida junta in 1993. For goodness sake, is Mr. Shehu not aware of the fact that Mr. Sowore was charged with treasonable felony, money laundering and insulting President Buhari for daring to call off the bluff of the federal government?

It is interesting to note I had teamed up with other patriots in 2006 to campaign for the restoration of the liberty of Mr. Garba Shehu (who was then the spokesman for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar) when he was detained by the State Security Service and charged before the Federal High Court with the offence of “obtaining, reproducing and keeping classified material” in contravention of the Official Secrets Act.

Happily, the charge filed against Mr. Shehu by the forces of incipient fascism in the country was withdrawn and struck out in his favour. In like manner, the charge of a treasonable felony which is hanging menacingly on the head of Mr. Omoyele Sowore like a sword of Damocles will also be struck out in his favour in the fullness of time.

 

Magu’s Probe Is A Question Mark On EFCC, Says Falana

Human Rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, says the probe on the embattled acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, is a question mark on the anti-graft agency.

He disclosed this on Wednesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

“Even though Mr Ibrahim Magu is presumed innocent of all the allegations levelled against him, it is an anti-climax for an anti-corruption zar to be linked to a miasmal of corrupt practices.

“No doubt the fate that has befallen Magu so far, for me it is indeed a moral disaster on the anti-corruption crusade. Therefore, the ongoing investigation should be a wake-up call on the Federal Government to embark on a comprehensive cleaning exercise. Otherwise, the investigation will be a selective exercise in futility.

“The Federal Government owes the public duty, particularly that institution if it is confirmed that Mr Magu has been asked to step aside. There has to be a follow-up of the law establishing the agency, the top-most officer in the agency should be asked to act for him,” he said.

The EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, is under investigation over corruption allegations levelled against him.

READ ALSO: Magu’s Alleged Arrest Is A Power-Play – PACAC

Speaking further, the legal practitioner said the Federal Government should not make the mistake of appointing who he described as an outsider to head the EFCC in acting capacity should Magu be suspended or found guilty of the allegations.

According to him, this is to ensure that the name of such nomination will easily be sent to the National Assembly for confirmation.

Falana, however, called on the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel to carry out a thorough investigation into the allegations of corrupt practices levelled against the EFCC boss.

Magu has been in the eye of the storm following the invitation extended to him by the Department of State Services (DSS) on Monday.

Although the spokesman of the EFCC boss, Tony Amokeodo, told Channels Television that his principal was quizzed to appear before a panel of the Federal Government set up to investigate the allegations of corruption levelled against him, the secret service insisted that it did not arrest Magu.

DSS Spokesman, Peter Afunanya, said the service has no connection with Magu’s reported arrest.

Alleged Kidnapping: Femi Falana Asks AGF To Produce Indicted Soldiers For Trial

Falana Challenges Governors To Get Involved In Police Administration
(FILE PHOTO) Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana

 

 

A Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has asked the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to produce the indicted soldiers involved in the brutal murder of three policemen over suspected kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu in court for trial.

Falana made this call on Sunday via a statement he personally issued.

The legal practitioner noted that the military’s court-martial lacks the competence to try the soldiers for terrorism offences committed against police personnel or other members of the public.

He argued that the terrorism offence allegedly carried out by the soldiers were not provided for in the Armed Forces Act.

“With respect, the offence of terrorism allegedly committed by the indicted soldiers are not provided for in the Armed Forces Act.

“To that extent, a general court-martial or special court-martial lacks the jurisdictional competence to try the offence of terrorism committed against police personnel and other members of the public by soldiers who are subject to service law.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: SGF Boss Mustapha, Others Attend Church Service, Pray Against Virus

For the avoidance of doubt, Section 32 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended by the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2013 provides that “The Federal High Court located in any part of Nigeria, regardless of the location where the offence is committed, shall have jurisdiction to (a) try offences under this Act or any other related enactment; (b) hear and determine proceedings arising under this Act,” the statement partly read.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE

A COURT-MARTIAL LACKS THE COMPETENCE TO TRY OFFENCES OF TERRORISM

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN was reported to have said that the soldiers indicted in the brutal murder of 3 policemen who arrested a suspected kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu (alias Wadume) could be tried by a court-martial. According to the Minister, “They are military personnel. First, they are to go through the in-house processes. There are two options – either to charge them before the court-martial which is a special court established by law for the trial of soldiers or in the alternative for the military after consummation of the in-house processes should consider handing them over for trial.”

With respect, the offence of terrorism allegedly committed by the indicted soldiers are not provided for in the Armed Forces Act. To that extent, a general court-martial or special court-martial lacks the jurisdictional competence to try the offence of terrorism committed against police personnel and other members of the public by soldiers who are subject to service law. For the avoidance of doubt, Section 32 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended by the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2013 provides that “The Federal High Court located in any part of Nigeria, regardless of the location where the offence is committed, shall have jurisdiction to (a) try offences under this Act or any other related enactment; (b) hear and determine proceedings arising under this Act”.

Hence, the indicted soldiers were properly charged with terrorism along with other suspects in the only competent court in the land. However, since the military authorities did not release the suspects to the Police for the purpose of arraigning them in court the learned trial judge, the Honourable Justice Binta Nyako rightly ordered the Chief of Army Staff to produce them to answer to the heinous charge of terrorism and allied offences. Even though the Attorney- General withdrew the charges against the indicted soldiers the order that they be produced in court for arraignment has not been vacated or quashed either by the trial court or the Court of Appeal. Therefore, the Attorney-General is duty-bound by to ensure full and unconditional compliance with the valid and subsisting order of the federal high court in accordance with section 287 (3) of the Constitution.

Femi Falana SAN

Seek Sound Legal Advice On Disease Bill, Falana Tells NASS

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, has condemned the National Health Emergency Bill before lawmakers in the Senate.

He faulted the bill on Monday during a special programme ‘A Citizen’s Town Hall’ on Channels Television.

The human rights lawyer described the bill as unnecessary and asked members of the National Assembly to seek the opinion of legal experts before coming up with bills.

He said, “My views on the bill are that the bill is unnecessary, it is unwarranted; it is superfluous and unconstitutional.

“Therefore, it should not be passed because it is going to fail. If it is passed, it is going to be challenged.”

“I will like to suggest that the members of the National Assembly should seek sound legal advice so that we do not waste precious resources and energies on a law that is bound to fail; that is likely to be declared null and void,” Falana added.

The sponsor of the bill and lawmaker representing Enugu North Senatorial District, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, however, disagreed with the lawyer.

Senator Utazi, who was also a guest on the show, outlined the benefits of the bill to the nation’s health sector.

He believes there is no better time to come up with such a bill than now when Nigeria is battling the spread of COVID-19.

The lawmaker insisted that there was no going back on the passage of the bill, although the Senate would gladly welcome various contributions to improve its significance.

According to him, lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate chambers of the National Assembly will do everything possible to support the executive to ensure Nigeria overcomes its challenges.

“We are already set on a voyage and all we want is informed input into this bill. There is no better time for any law to come into force.

“It is very necessary and timely for this bill to come into place because there are gaps that are existing that needs to be filled. We need to have a legal framework to guide our activities,” Senator Utazi said.

He added, “We cannot continue depending on executive orders one after the other. It is totally wrong. This is a democracy; we are not in a military regime where the executive will make laws for the people.”

Edo, Ondo Elections: Falana Calls For Maximum Security To Douse Tension

Mr Femi Falana

 

Human Rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Femi Falana, has called for maximum security in Edo and Ondo states.

Falana made this call on Wednesday during the Citizens’ Townhall on Voting Amidst COVID-19 ahead of the September 19 governorship elections in the two states.

He noted that the move is necessary in order to douse the tensions that may arise as campaigns will soon begin.

The senior lawyer argued that unlike the local council polls in Cross River and Benue States where the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) swept all the seats, the governorship elections on September 19 will draw opposition parties participating in the exercise.

“You had a Local Government election in Cross River State and Benue State last Saturday, the opposition did not participate because the opposition would have wasted its funds by participating.

“In Cross River State, for instance, the 18 Chairmanship seats were won by the PDP while the 196 Councillorship seats were won by the ruling party.

“Ditto for Benue where 23 chairmanship seats were won by the PDP and of course the 276 councillorship seats were won by the ruling party, but it is going to be different in Ondo and Edo states where you are talking of opposition political parties slugging it out with the ruling political party.

“So tensions will be high, you will need maximum security to guarantee law and order in both states and then monitor some of the political leaders in those two states,” he said.

Falana also predicted a low turnout of voters on the Election Day, asking the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide facemasks to electorates who may not be able to afford it in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

COVID-19 Lockdown: Falana Calls For Investigation Into Extrajudicial Killing Of 21 Persons

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has called for an investigation into alleged killing of 21 persons by security forces during the COVID-19 lockdown.

In his letter dated April 16 and titled, Re: COVID-19 Killings By Security Forces, and addressed to the secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu, Falana said 21 Nigerians have lost their in the hands of trigger-happy security officers.

The Human rights activist urged the NHRC to update its report which claims that 18 persons have been killed to 21 persons because three other persons were killed in Cross Rivers and Anambra states during the lcokdown.

“Our attention has been drawn to your report on the 18 people that were brutally killed in Kaduna, Abia, Niger and Katsina States by the armed personnel of the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Force and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps deployed by the Federal Government to enforce the COVID-19 Regulations.

READ ALSO: Why Nigeria Is Not Among Beneficiaries Of Recent IMF Debt Relief – Finance Minister

“However, we have confirmed the unlawful killing of three other persons after the compilation of your report. Specifically, a taxi driver was reported to have been to death by security officials in Cross River State while two other persons were shot dead by the Police in Anambra State.

“Thus, you will agree with us that 21 Nigerian citizens have lost their lives in the hands of trigger happy security personnel under the pretext of enforcing the COVID-19 Regulations,” the letter read in part.

Falana added that apart from updating its report, the NHRC should conduct an investigation into the unlawful killing of the 21 persons and ensure that the culprits are prosecuted for murder or culpable homicide.

He also requested that the NHRC should ensure that the bereaved family members of the slain citizens are adequately compensated by the federal government.

Allow Judges Hear Applications Via Skype, Falana Writes CJN

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has written to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Justice I.T. Muhammad requesting that courts re-open and judges hear applications via Skype or Zoom.

In his letter titled, “Request To Re-Open Courts To Attend To Bail Applications And Fundamental Rights Applications,” the human rights activist said it is important that the National Judicial Council (NJC) review its decision to suspend court sitting till further notice.

According to Falana, this review is necessary in view of the fact that motions for the bail of many criminal suspects and applications are pending in several courts in all the states of the federation and in the federal capital territory.

He added that decision to re-open courts is also necessary to ensure that thousands of people who are either awaiting trial or under investigation are not subjected to unlawful detention.

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Read the full letter below…

REQUEST TO RE-OPEN COURTS TO ATTEND TO BAIL APPLICATIONS AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS APPLICATIONS

Pursuant to Your Lordship’s letter dated March 23, 2020, all Heads of courts in the country were directed to suspend court sittings for two weeks in tandem with the COVID-19 Regulations issued by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In another letter dated April 6, 2020 Your Lordship extended the suspension of court sittings “till further notice given the lockdown measures put in place by the federal government and some state governments to curb the spread of COVID-19. ”
No doubt, the decision of the National Judicial Council to suspend the sittings of all courts was predicated on the need to protect our Judicial Officers and judicial staff from the coronavirus pandemic.

However, in view of the decision of the federal government to relax the lockdown by allowing markets, shops and stalls selling food and groceries to open to customers between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm daily the National Judicial Council ought to review the suspension of court sittings to enable them to attend to urgent matters.

The review has become necessary in view of the fact that motions for the bail of many criminal suspects and applications to secure the enforcement of the fundamental right to personal liberty of other detainees are pending in several courts in all the states of the federation and in the federal capital territory.

In addition, the return dates in respect of several ex parte orders made by Magistrates for the remand of a number of criminal suspects which have since expired are due to be quashed or renewed to extend time for further investigation.

In order to ensure that thousands of people who are either awaiting trial or under investigation are not subjected to unlawful detention we are confident that our humble request will be granted.

More so that the heads of the various courts are vested with the power to designate Judges and Magistrates to attend to urgent matters in accordance with the laws establishing such courts.

However, in order to observe the social distancing directive we suggest that arrangements be made for Judges to hear urgent applications via Skype or Zoom.

While awaiting Your Lordship’s response to our request please accept the assurances of our highest professional regards.

Yours Sincerely,
Femi Falana SAN, FCI Arb.

Allow Judges Hear Applications Via Skype, Falana Writes CJN

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has written to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Justice I.T. Muhammad requesting that courts re-open and judges hear applications via Skype or Zoom.

In his letter titled, “Request To Re-Open Courts To Attend To Bail Applications And Fundamental Rights Applications,” the human rights activist said it is important that the National Judicial Council (NJC) review its decision to suspend court sitting till further notice.

According to Falana, this review is necessary in view of the fact that motions for the bail of many criminal suspects and applications are pending in several courts in all the states of the federation and in the federal capital territory.

He added that decision to re-open courts is also necessary to ensure that thousands of people who are either awaiting trial or under investigation are not subjected to unlawful detention.

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Read The Full Letter Below

REQUEST TO RE-OPEN COURTS TO ATTEND TO BAIL APPLICATIONS AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS APPLICATIONS

Pursuant to Your Lordship’s letter dated March 23, 2020, all Heads of courts in the country were directed to suspend court sittings for two weeks in tandem with the COVID-19 Regulations issued by President Muhammadu Buhari. In another letter dated April 6, 2020, Your Lordship extended the suspension of court sittings “till further notice given the lockdown measures put in place by the federal government and some state governments to curb the spread of COVID-19. ”

No doubt, the decision of the National Judicial Council to suspend the sittings of all courts was predicated on the need to protect our Judicial Officers and judicial staff from the coronavirus pandemic. However, in view of the decision of the federal government to relax the lockdown by allowing markets, shops and stalls selling food and groceries to open to customers between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm daily the National Judicial Council ought to review the suspension of court sittings to enable them to attend to urgent matters.

The review has become necessary in view of the fact that motions for the bail of many criminal suspects and applications to secure the enforcement of the fundamental right to personal liberty of other detainees are pending in several courts in all the states of the federation and in the federal capital territory. In addition, the return dates in respect of several ex parte orders made by Magistrates for the remand of a number of criminal suspects which have since expired are due to be quashed or renewed to extend the time for further investigation.

In order to ensure that thousands of people who are either awaiting trial or under investigation are not subjected to unlawful detention we are confident that our humble request will be granted. More so that the heads of the various courts are vested with the power to designate Judges and Magistrates to attend to urgent matters in accordance with the laws establishing such courts.

However, in order to observe the social distancing directive we suggest that arrangements be made for Judges to hear urgent applications via Skype or Zoom.

While awaiting Your Lordship’s response to our request please accept the assurances of our highest professional regards.

Yours Sincerely,

Femi Falana SAN, FCI Arb.