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.

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“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.

READ ALSO: FG Grants Amnesty To Ambrose Alli, Enahoro, Effiong, Pardons 2,600 Inmates

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.

UPDATED: Court Adjourns Trial Of Sowore, Bakare Till April

File Photo: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun

 

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned the trial of the Convener of #RevolutionNow movement, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu adjourned the trial until April 1 and 2 in a ruling on Wednesday following the objection raised by the counsel to the defendants, Femi Falana.

Falana had challenged the testimony of the first witness presented by the prosecution, for giving evidence outside his written statement.

But the prosecutor, Kayode Halilu, insisted that he served a summary of the witness statement on the defendants’ counsel and the witness.

The witness is one Rasheed Olawale, a Principal Staff Officer of the Department of State Services (DSS) in charge of Surveillance and Communication Intelligence at the Lagos State Command.

After listening to both counsels, the trial judge ruled that the witness cannot be allowed to depose to a four-paragraph statement and give a 10-page of evidence.

She subsequently adjourned the trial to enable the prosecutor to reproduce the witness’ statement.

Sowore and Bakare are facing trial over treason and money laundering charges filed against them by the Federal Government.

They have, however, pleaded not guilty and have since been granted bail by the court.

The government had filed a motion on notice praying the court to grant an order excluding persons other than lawyers and accredited members of the press from witnessing the proceedings.

It also sought an order to clear the court whenever the prosecution witnesses were testifying, such that only the trial judge, parties and legal representatives, as well as accredited members of the press, would be able to see them.

The prosecution also asked for an order that the real names and addresses of the prosecution witnesses in the proceedings should not be disclosed.

Shortly before Sowore and Bakare’s trial began on Wednesday, Justice Ojukwu adjourned ruling on an application by the prosecution seeking to have witnesses shielded in the trial of the defendants.

This followed the request of Halilu who informed the court that the defence team served him a counter-affidavit and he needed time to reply to it.

Sanusi’s Dethronement And Banishment Is Illegal, Says Falana

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has described the dethronement and banishment of the Muhammadu Sanusi (II), as illegal.

He said this on Tuesday during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today.

“The dethronement, the Banishment and restriction of movement and detention are all clearly illegal.

“In the first place, the governor held an Executive Council meeting presided over by him and within a space of five minutes, the emir had been accused of executing disrespect to constituted authority, meaning the governor and in the meeting presided over by the governor where he was the accuser, the prosecutor and the witness,” he said.

According to him, the emir was dethroned without being given any opportunity to defend himself.

“As if such violation of his freedom and right to fair hearing was not enough, the governor was alleged to have ordered his arrest and banishment to his village in Nasarawa State,” Falana added.

“You do not impeach a governor and decide to detain him somewhere. He has the right to move freely, he has the right to exercise all his powers”.

When asked if he (Sanusi) has the legal grounds to challenge the dethronement, Falana said, “for sure”.

Meanwhile, Sanusi’s Lawyers have already threatened to take legal action if the state authorities don’t release him within the next 24 hours.

The lawyers made this known during a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja while the emir was being moved from Loko Development Area of Nasarawa State to Awe Local Government Area.

Operation Positive Identification: Court Fixes May 15 For Verdict

 

The Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed May 15 to give its verdict on a suit instituted by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, over planned implementation of the “Operation Positive Identification’ by the Nigerian Army.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa fixed the date after listening to arguments from the lawyers representing all the parties in the suit.

Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had filed the Fundamental Rights Enforcement suit on October 25, 2019, against the planned exercise by the army scheduled to hold from November 1 to December 23.

Alongside the Nigerian Army, Mr Falana listed the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, as the respondents to the suit.

The senior lawyer in his suit asked the court to stop the implementation of the exercise, arguing that the operation – which would entail Nigerians to move around with a valid means of identification such as the National Identification Card, Voters Registration Card, Drivers’ Licence and passports or other valid official identification – is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

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Citing several authorities, Mr Falana submitted that armed troops are not allowed by law to mount checkpoints on highways in the country. He says this is a job for the police and the respondents have not shown why the soldiers must take over the duties of the police.

He also submitted that the Appeal Courts have ruled severally that the army has no business in civil actions neither are they allowed to get involved in elections.

He argued that the relief sought pertains to his right to life, liberty, and freedom of movement as there was a likelihood that the soldiers could shoot to death any individual who failed to produce any means of identification on demand.

While asking the court to grant his fundamental rights application, Falana insisted that his move was completely anchored on Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution.

But the three respondents to the suit filed a preliminary objection challenging the suit.

In her arguments on the preliminary objection today, Counsel to the Nigerian Army and the Chief of Army Staff, Mrs Olayemi Badewole asked the court to dismiss the suit for lack of merit.

She argued that Mr Falana’s complaints are all based on Newspaper publications which are speculative. She further stressed that the reliefs sought are spent as the time-lapse for the nationwide operation had since elapsed and the case had become academic. She urged the court to dismiss the suit for lack of merit.

Counsel to the AGF, Mr Terhember Agbe, on his part, asked the court to take judicial notice of the insurgency in the country and the call for the sack of the Service Chiefs.

He stressed that operation positive identification had been going on in the North East and was a means by the army to fish out criminals and stop the breach of peace.

He claimed that the move to extend the exercise to other parts of the country was not aimed at shooting Nigerians or infringing on the fundamental human rights as guaranteed in the nation’s constitution.

Agbe also submitted that no evidence had been placed before the court to show that Operation Positive Identification has caused the death of any Nigerian.

He, therefore, urged the court not to give in to Mr Falana’s fear, a fear which he says is not founded in law and is not in the public interest.

After listening to all the arguments, the court fixed May 15 for its verdict.

Bayelsa Election: Falana Says Supreme Court Is Wrong, Lacks Jurisdiction

Mr Femi Falana

 

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has reacted to the judgment of the Supreme Court on the governorship election in Bayelsa State.

In an exclusive with Channels Television, he said the apex court made a mistake when it treated a pre-election matter as a post-election case.

“What their Lordships ought to have done was to ask the lawyers, ‘can you address us with respect to our jurisdiction?’

“Because Section 133 of the Electoral Act stipulates that upon the conclusion of an election and once candidates are declared, any challenge of the conduct of the election, of the qualification of the candidates shall be heard and determined by an Election Petition Tribunal,” Falana stated.

On February 13, a five-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili sacked David Lyon and Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winners of the November 16, 2019 governorship poll.

The court then ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the APC candidates and issue fresh certificates to the candidate of the party with the next highest votes, and with the required constitutional spread of votes in the results of the election.

It disqualified Degi-Eremieoyo as a candidate in the election for submitting forged certificates to INEC, stressing that the deputy-governorship candidate had infected the joint ticket with which he and Lyon ran for and won the election.

This led to the declaration of Senator Douye Diri and Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winners of the election and subsequent swearing-in as the governor and deputy governors of Bayelsa State.

The leadership of the APC and Degi-Eremieoyo have separately asked the apex court to review its judgement on the election.

In his reaction, Falana who has disagreed with the APC led government on many issues insisted that the apex court made a mistake.

He stressed that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter, saying it should have gone before the Election Petition Tribunal.

Ahead of the review of the judgment by the Supreme Court, the senior advocate was hopeful that the opportunity would further develop and strengthen the country’s laws.

He said, “The election was held on the basis of the judgement of the Court of Appeal which was to the fact that yes! Degi-Eremieoyo changed his name many times, not that he forged any of his certificates; there was no such proof. Therefore, he can contest the election.”

“On the basis of that judgement, the people voted; which means by that judgement, the election was valid and legal.

“As of that date, there was no pending appeal before the Supreme Court whereby INEC could be accused of having violated the doctrines of lis pendens i.e. ‘since you knew a case was in court, why did you hold election? As was the case of Peter Obi and INEC,” he added.

Falana stated that it was after the conclusion of the election that the PDP filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.

He stressed, “With profound respect, the attention of the Supreme Court was not drawn to the legality of that appeal; the case had become spent.”

President Buhari Is Breaking The Law – Falana

 

 

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana on Monday said President Muhammadu Buhari is running afoul of the law in his decision not to terminate the current crop of security Service Chiefs.

Mr Falana, who appeared on Sunrise Daily, argued that the laws regulating military officers require the retirement of military officers who have served for 35 years or have reached the age of 60.

He added that a lawsuit would be filed this week in respect of the matter.

In an interview that lasted more than 20 minutes, Mr Falana also said President Buhari “must be prevailed upon” to acknowledge the possibility of “internal sabotage” within the military in the war against insurgency.

READ ALSO: Presidency Has No Power To Stop Peaceful Protests – Falana

Responding to statements from the Presidency cautioning against public protests against the government, Mr Falana said such comments should be “embarrassing” to the President who, before he took the country’s reins, had led public demonstrations.

What Falana Actually Said

“Under the public service rule, under the harmonised rules for military officers in Nigeria and under Section 6 of the armed forces act, which empowers the President to make rules and regulations for the military, there is no provision for extension of tenure (for Service Chiefs) beyond the period stipulated by law. It has been done in the past, but that does not make it right. There is equality before the law, so you can’t extend the service of certain officers while you ask others to go after 35 years of service or the attainment of 60 years of age. 

“To the best of my knowledge, a suit will be filed during the week, in respect of this matter. 

A file photo of human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.
A file photo of human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.

 

“The President must be prevailed upon to appreciate that we may also be undergoing what you might describe as internal sabotage (in the fight against insurgency) by many members of the armed forces who simply feel since these are the people who can stop insurgency or terrorism, let them go ahead. Because the Chief of Army Staff himself has had an occasion to accuse members of the armed forces of not doing enough. 

“The Service Chiefs are retiring officers who have served for 35 years or have reached the age of 60 – it is their fault not to appeal to the President for them to go or to resign. 

On Caution Against Public Protests

“Is the Nigerian state telling us that a protest by 2,000 people cannot be managed? What on earth is going on? We have to recognise the right of Nigerians to protest for or against the government. And just last week in Abuja sponsored agents of the government staged a protest asking the government to expel Amnesty International from Nigeria. Even against me, the government had sponsored some elements to demonstrate in Abuja. I have evidence. If the government can mobilise support and get its agents to demonstrate in favour of its own policies; Nigerians must also be given the opportunity to demonstrate against policies of the government considered inimical to their interest.

“I want to believe that some of these statements oozing out of the Presidency are meant to embarrass the government, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari. Because the case of ANPP and Inspector General of Police decided by the Court of Appeal in December 2007 on the rights of Nigerians to demonstrate without police permit, without the fiat of the government, was handled for the former leaders of the ANPP, who are now in the APC, by my humble self, from the High Court to the Court of Appeal; and that is the law today.

“Following that judgement, the National Assembly in 2015 amended the Public Order Act by imposing a duty on the police to provide security for Nigerians who wish to demonstrate. That is the law today. 

“Whenever I have had cause to lead a demonstration or participate in one, we have always written to the police for protection, not for permit. And I must confess, so far, I have not had any case where we have been told not to demonstrate. The only time, I think, was last year when Professor Soyinka and I were supposed to address a meeting and the police said it won’t take place; I said no, call the authorities, this is the right we have fought for and won. And in fairness to them, we were allowed to have the program. 

“What is particularly embarrassing is that on the 20th of November 2014, the Presidential Candidate of the APC, General Muhammadu Buhari, now President Muhammadu Buhari, the then APC Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, two current Ministers, Dr. Sylvester Onu and Rotimi Amaechi, led others to demonstrate in Abuja against insecurity in the country, and they were more than 2,000. Heavens did not fall and heavens will not fall this time around.”

AGF Has No Power To Proscribe Any Organisation In Nigeria, Says Femi Falana

 

The Attorney General of the Federal Government has no powers to proscribe any group, this is according to Mr Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Mr Falana said, “The Attorney General of the Federal Government, Malami SAN, has no power whatsoever to proscribe any organisation in Nigeria.”

The legal practitioner’s comment comes in reaction to a statement credited to the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, suggesting that the newly launched ‘Operation Amotekun’ is illegal.

According to the AGF, the setting-up of the paramilitary organization called Amotekun is illegal and runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law.

Reacting to the AGF’s claim while featuring as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Mr Falana said the Attorney General’s statement concerning Operation Amotekun is diversionary and hypocritical.

The human rights lawyer noted that even in proscribing IPOB or the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, the Federal Government had to approach the court, adding that it is disturbing that the Attorney General of the Federal Government can say that his legal opinion was not sought while the paramilitary organisation was being formed.

Falan stressed that there is no constitutional nexus between the Attorney General of the Federal Government and the state governments in that each state of the Federal Republic has its own Attorney General.

He further stated that the idea of the Attorney General of the Federation is a misnomer that was borrowed from the military era.

The Senior Advocate was of the opinion that Mr Malami is the Attorney General of the Federal Government in Abuja while other states have their own Attorney Generals to advise their governments.

Falana explained that before the official launch of Amotekun at Ibadan, Oyo State last week, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim held a meeting with the southwest governors represented by Gov Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.

He further enunciated that at the end of the meeting the Police endorsed the security initiative, adding that by virtue of section 318 of the Constitution the word “government” is said to include the Government of the Federation, or any State, or of a local government council or any person who exercises power or authority on its behalf.

In Falana’s opinion through the Inspector-General of Police, the federal government has ratified the establishment of Amotekun. He adds that the statement of the Attorney-General of the Federal Government that he was not consulted before the establishment of Amotekun is totally uncalled for and ought to be ignored by the southwest governors.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said:

With respect, Mr. Malami’s purported proscription of Amotekun is hypocritical and discriminatory on the grounds that the Civilian JTF operating in Yobe and Borno states is constituted by 26,000 well-armed volunteers who have been assisting the armed forces to combat terrorism in the northeast region.

Similarly, the governments of Kano and Zamfara states have established the Hisbar Commission. It is common knowledge that the HISBAH operatives in Zamfara state recently arrested a policeman who was alleged to have been caught in the company of three women.

The Lagos State government has equally established the Neighbourhood Watch to assist the Police and other security agencies in protecting the life and property of every person living in Lagos.

No doubt, section 214 of the Constitution stipulates that there shall be only one police force in Nigeria. But the federal government has breached the Constitution by setting up other police forces. For instance, the Nigerian Security and Defence Corps is another police force established by law.

The State Security Service is also a police force established by law. Its operatives are well-armed. They wear masks even in broad daylight. The federal government has also authorised the officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Offences Commission, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Correctional Service, and other paramilitary agencies to bear arms.

To that extent, the federal government cannot stop any state from setting a security outfit. In fact, having lost control of the monopoly of violence to armed gangs in the various parts of the country the federal government lacks the legal, political and moral right to challenge security outfits set up by state governments and individuals to protect the lives and property of the people of Nigeria.

Mr Falana submitted that since Amotekun is not an outfit set up by southwest governors to harass or intimidate political opponents it cannot be prohibited under section 227 or any other provision of the Constitution.

Falana argued that the Constitution has not prohibited the establishment of security outfits for the defence of the people of Nigeria, adding that if Mr. Malami is convinced that his position is backed by law he should approach the Supreme Court to test the constitutional validity of Amotekun.

He advised the governments of Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Ogun and Oyo states to ignore Mr. Malami’s purported proscription and proceed to enact the necessary laws similar to the Neighbourhood Watch Law of Lagos State.

Nigerian Lawyers Are Comfortable With Impunity, Human Rights Violations – Falana

Senior Advocate of Nigerian, Femi Falana, has challenged Nigerian lawyers to stand up to their responsibilities describing their actions and inactions as comfortable towards impunity and human rights violations.

Falana disclosed this on Wednesday in an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

He also went down the memory lane saying the NBA has a history of protecting the rule of law but present-day NBA simply holds seminars and annual lectures.

“Nigerian lawyers are comfortable with impunity, abuse of the rule of law, and violations of human rights.

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“We have a history of struggle in this country. Under the previous military regimes, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) stood its ground in protecting and defending human rights. That is no longer the case.”

He stated further that in 1987 when the late Alao Aka-Bashorun was NBA president, no one or even dictator dared violate court orders but the reverse is the case in the present-day NBA.

“Today we are only interested in organising annual seminars, dinners and at the end of the day, the bar is not doing much.

“I am talking of when human rights were put in abeyance by military dictators. Our judges insisted that the rule of law must be fully complied with.

“So, nobody or regime was allowed to treat court orders with contempt or disdain,” the human right lawyer said.

Falana further lamented that it is only when rich people are oppressed that the NBA and even the media speak out loud.

“It is only when the rich are arrested, where we can make money, that we shout from the rooftop. So there is human rights violation in Nigeria.”

He further called for human rights enlightenment and education in Nigerian schools and called on the state government to introduce human rights courses in school curriculum.

Dasuki, Sowore’s Release: Falana Asks FG To Free El-Zakzaky, Wife, Others

Omoyele Sowore                                                        Femi Falana                                     Sambo Dasuki

 

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, has noted the release of his client and convener of #RevolutionNow protests, Mr Omoyele Sowore, as well as former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

In a statement on Tuesday, Falana confirmed the directive of the Federal Government to the Department of State Services (DSS) to release the duo in line with the orders of the court.

He also acknowledged that the government has since complied with the court order regarding Sowore’s co-accused, Olawale Bakare, saying only the #RevolutionNow protests convener was rearrested after the drama which played out on December 6 at the Federal High Court in Abuja.


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The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami, had ordered the DSS to release Sowore and Dasuki, saying the decision was in compliance with the bail granted the two men by the court.

“Since the (Muhammadu) Buhari administration has now embraced the rule of law, Mr Malami should ensure that the valid and subsisting orders of all courts are obeyed in accordance with section 287 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” said Falana.

The senior advocate also called for the release of the leader of the Islamic movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibraheem Elzakzaky, and his wife, Zeinat, who were arrested in December 2015, as well as others he described as political detainees and criminal suspects still in detention.

Read the full statement below:

ON THE RELEASE OF SOWORE AND DASUKI ON BAIL

We have confirmed that the Federal Government has decided to comply with the orders of some municipal and regional courts for the release of Mr Omoyele Sowore and Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

With respect to Mr Olawale Bakare he was not rearrested like Mr Sowore. So, the order of the Federal High Court for his release on bail was complied with by the State Security Service on December 5, 2019.

However, we call on the Federal Government to release other political detainees and criminal suspects in line with valid and subsisting orders of courts.

In particular, we request the Federal Government to liaise with the Kaduna State government to withdraw the charge filed against Sheikh Ibraheem Elzakzaky and his wife, Mrs Zeinat Elzakzaky who have been detained since December 14, 2015.

The Federal High Court had on December 2, 2016 declared the detention of the couple illegal and unconstitutional and ordered the Federal Government to release them from custody forthwith.

Apart from awarding them reparation of N50 million, the Federal High Court also ordered the Federal Government to provide them with a temporary accommodation since the Nigerian Army had destroyed their family house in Zaria.

However, in a bid to stop the protests of the Shiites who were demanding for the release of their leaders on the basis of the orders of the Federal High Court, the Federal Government asked the Kaduna State government to arraign the couple in the Kaduna State High Court.

Even though they have been charged with procuring certain persons to kill a soldier, the Kaduna State High Court has since discharged and acquitted the persons allegedly procured by the Elzakzakys to kill the said soldier.

By ordering the release of Colonel Dasuki pursuant to the orders of courts, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), has jettisoned the reactionary position that national security takes precedence over the rule of law.

Since the Buhari administration has now embraced the rule of law, Mr Malami should ensure that the valid and subsisting orders of all courts are obeyed in accordance with section 287 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Femi Falana SAN.