Kaduna Govt Attempting To Frustrate El-Zakzaky’s Release – Falana

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria has condemned the Kaduna State Government for filing fresh terrorism charges against the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat.

El-Zakzaky and his wife were freed of all charges levelled against them by the Kaduna State Government on July 28, five years after being detained by the Department of Security Service (DSS).

In a ruling that lasted over eight hours, the presiding judge, Justice Gideon Kurada upheld the no-case submission filed by Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife in an alleged culpable homicide, unlawful assembly and disruption of public peace levelled against them by the Kaduna state government.

However, Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s administration filed a fresh seven charges against the IMN leader at the Federal High Court 24 hours later.

Falana, who is the lead counsel to El-Zakzaky, described the development as a “desperate bid by the Kaduna State Government to frustrate the release of the defendants from further incarceration.”

 

READ ALSO:

Kaduna Govt Files Fresh Charges Against El-Zakzaky

Court Frees El-Zakzaky, Wife

 

“The new charge was maliciously filed when the Kaduna State Government anticipated that the ruling fixed for July 28 in respect of our no case submission would succeed,” Falana said via a statement issued on Sunday.

The senior lawyer also praised the trial judge for “displaying exceptional courage and judicial independence amid what he described as intimidation by the forces of oppression”.

See the full statement issued by Falana below:

NEW TERRORISM CHARGE WAS HURRIEDLY FILED BY KADUNA STATE GOVERNMENT TO FRUSTRATE THE RELEASE OF MALLAM IBRAHIM ELZAKZAKY AND MALLAMA ZEENAT ELZAKZAKY FROM PRISON CUSTODY

It has been reported in the media that the Kaduna State Government filed a new charge of terrorism and treasonable felony against Mallam Ibrahim Elzakzaky and his wife, Mallama Zeenat Elzakzaky after the dismissal of the 8-count charge of conspiracy and abetment of culpable homicide by the Kaduna State High Court. But contrary to such reports the new charge was hurriedly filed in the Federal High Court holden at Kaduna on Tuesday, 26th July in a desperate bid by the Kaduna State Government to frustrate the release of the defendants from further incarceration. In other words, the new charge was maliciously filed when the Kaduna State Government anticipated that the ruling fixed for July 28 in respect our no case submission would succeed.

As soon as the new charge was filed the Bailiff of the Federal High Court twas commanded to rush to the Kaduna Correctional Centre to serve same on the defendants. But the defendants refused to accept service of the charge and directed the Bailiff to serve it on them through their Counsel.

But for reasons best known to the Kaduna State Government the charge was not served on the defence counsel. However, on July 28 the trial judge, the Honourable Justice Gideon Kurada refused to be intimidated by the forces of oppression   as he displayed exceptional courage and judicial independence. His Lordship dismissed the 8-count charge on the ground that it was filed under a law enacted in 2017 by the Kaduna State Government for offences that were alleged to have been committed in 2015. Alternatively, the learned trial examined the oral testimony of the 15 witnesses called by the Prosecution, upheld the no case submission of the defence and discharged the defendants.

In apparent disregard of the epochal judgment of the Honourable Justice Gideon Kurada the Kaduna State Government seeks to subject the defendants to trial under the Terrorism Prevention Act enacted in 2011 for offences that were committed as far back as 2008. But since the Kaduna State Government is not sure that the defendants would be convicted for terrorism the Director of Public Prosecution, Mr. Bayero has announced that an appeal would be filed at the Court of Appeal against the Ruling of the Honourable Justice Gideon Kadura. No doubt, the new charge constitutes the worst abuse of the process of the Federal High Court. Once the case charge is served on the defence we shall not hesitate to file the necessary application for the immediate termination of the prosecutorial charade.

In view of the foregoing, we wish to state, without any fear of contradiction, that the filing of the new charge of terrorism and treasonable felony by the Kaduna State Government has no effect whatsoever on the valid and subsisting order of the Honourable Justice Gideon Kudura for the unconditional release of the defendants from prison custody. In the same vein, the filing of the proposed notice of appeal by the Kaduna State Government will not constitute a stay of action with respect to the order for the release of the defendants. Therefore, as law abiding citizens the defendants are free to continue to breathe the air of freedom. However, since the new charge has failed to achieve its oppressive objective of frustrating the release of the couple from further incarceration we call on the Kaduna State Government to discontinue it without any delay.

Femi Falana SAN

Leader of the Defence Team

Nigeria Must Follow Due Process To Extradite Igboho, Says Falana

 

Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana has asked the Nigerian Government to follow due process in extraditing the Yoruba leader, Sunday Igboho, stating that the rule of law will guide the process.

Mr Falana stated this on Thursday during Channels Television Politics Today programme.

His statement comes after the arrest and detention of the Yoruba leader in the Benin Republic while trying to flee to Germany.

He said the Federal Government must always follow the appropriate legal process in dealing with such cases, adding that there were attempts to put him in a waiting plane to return to Nigeria.

“In the case of Sunday Igboho, despite my disagreement with him, you cannot just throw him into a waiting plane as we were told was attempted.

“You have to go to court, you have to make a request under international law, under the ECOWAS Convention on extradition, the government of Nigeria is requested to submit an extradition request to the government of Benin Republic”.

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

 

He explained that the former Chief of Army Staff  General Yusuf Buratai (retired), who at that time had not submitted his letters of credence asked that Igboho be handed over to him, he (Buratai )was told that they operate under the rule of law and that’s why the matter is still in court.

READ ALSO: Sunday Igboho Arrested In Benin Republic

Falana noted that he is opposed to the campaign of the division of the country but the law guarantees the rights of self-determination.

He, therefore, asked the federal government to respect human rights and always follow the legal process in dealing with those calling for secession so that the nation will be respected among other countries.

Mr Igboho who was arrested on July 19 was declared wanted for allegedly stockpiling arms, an allegation he has since denied.

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

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

 

Human rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has kicked against the breakup of Nigeria along ethnic lines.

Several groups including the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu and the Yoruba Nation agitators have campaigned for both Biafra and Oduduwa Republics.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday, Falana said he has a fundamental disagreement with secessionist groups in the country.

“Personally, I am strenuously opposed to the campaign for the balkanisation of Nigeria because I believe the masses of our people are oppressed by the ruling class and imperialism.

“To that extent, I have a fundamental ideological disagreement with those who are calling for the breakup of the country along ethnic lines.”

Speaking further, the senior lawyer explained that amid the agitations in some quarters that the nation should split, the Federal Government owes it a duty to convince the agitators by reposing confidence on the corporate existence of Nigeria.

While noting that it is not a criminal offence for some persons to make separatists demands, Falana said the current administration should respect human rights in line with Article 20 of the African Charter on Human Rights.

He added, “If a group of people decides to fight for the breakup of the country, the duty of the government is to try as much as possible to convince them to repose confidence in the corporate existence of Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, the two major separatists – Igboho and Kanu – have been arrested and are facing trial both in the Benin Republic and Nigeria respectively.

Police Should Apologise To Protesters Who Were Arrested On June 12

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

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana has asked the Nigeria Police Force to apologise to protesters who were arrested during the June 12 nationwide protest on Saturday. 

Mr Falana who is the interim chair of the alliance on surviving COVID-19 and beyond accused the police of violating the fundamental right of expression of the protesters.

“The police should learn to respect the constitutional rights of protesters. It’s uncivilised for the police to be chasing and attacking unarmed protesters on the streets as if these citizens are criminals,” Falana noted in a communique on Sunday.

He however commended the protesters for conducting themselves in a mature and peaceful manner.

Mr Falana also condemned the explanation of the police that the tear gas shot was to prevent hoodlums and miscreants from hijacking the peaceful rallies adding that there are lessons to take from that incident which he describes as unfortunate.

The rights activist urged future protesters to inform the police ahead of their action as demanded by law.

Meanwhile the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba says no protester was arrested on June 12.

In an interview with Channels Television on Saturday, the police spokesman justified the use of tear gas on protesters who took to the streets to mark Democracy Day by voicing their grievances against the government of the day.

According to Mr Mba, the actions of officers were in line with international best practices of dispersing violent protests.

The police shot teargas at protesters in Lagos and Abuja however, the Channels Television correspondents who covered the protest in Abuja did not observe any sign of violence from the protesters before the police disrupted their parade.

‘An isolated case’

According to Mr. Mba, the use of teargas was an isolated case in Abuja where protesters turned violent.

“We had an isolated case in Abuja where some of the protesters became unruly and in line with international best practices, police fired teargas at them,” he said. “And that is an acceptable mode of engaging violent protesters anywhere in the world, whether it is in Abuja, Lagos, Paris, London, or New York or California. That is internationally accepted.

“We would have problems if we had fired live bullets at them, but when you fire teargas at protesters to disperse them, you are not in breach of any known code, either nationally or internationally.

“I also want to use this opportunity to state clearly that no citizen, either in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, or anywhere, is currently in detention as a result of this isolated incident.

“As long as protesters conduct themselves within the confines of the law; they do not constitute themselves into a nuisance, they do not breach the rights of other citizens, they do not obstruct traffic, they do not compel other citizens to join their protests, the police will largely work with them.

“When you protest in contravention of this set of conditions I have given, clearly you are coming in direct conflict with the laws of the land, and the police will never stand by idly and watch you create problems for the entire polity.”

Targeted at IMN

Meanwhile, in a statement released on Saturday, the police in Abuja said it had dispersed protesters in an attempt to foil attempts by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) to “incite a public disturbance.”

“The FCT Police Command on Saturday, 12th June 2021 successfully restored calm at Apo-Gudu axis after professionally dispersing a protest by some members of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN)-Shiites and others targeted at inciting public disturbance and breaching public peace,” the statement, signed by spokesperson Yusuf Mariam, said.

“Consequently, the action of the Command was necessitated by the concerns of some agitated residents. However, no arrest was made.

“In view of the above, the Command wishes to state that it is committed to ensuring that FCT residents enjoy a hitch-free Democracy Day Celebration and will not hesitate to bring to book every person or entity that attempts to breach the peace or cause a breakdown of law and order in the Federal Capital Territory.

“The Command implores residents to remain calm and law-abiding while reaffirming its unwavering commitment to the protection of lives and property within the FCT.”

Falana, Falz Join CSOs To Protest Insecurity, Unemployment

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana speaks during a protest at the Lagos State Government House, Ikeja on May 31, 2021.

 

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana and his son, Falz on Monday joined civil society organisations, labour unions and youth bodies to protest against insecurity, unemployment, mass poverty and bad governance.

Bearing placards with different inscriptions, the groups took the peaceful protest which had the theme “National Day Of Action Against Insecurity in Nigeria” to the Lagos State Government House in Alausa, Ikeja.

They were received by members of the State House of Assembly.

Falana told the lawmakers that there was a need to provide for the poor so that peace could be guaranteed in the country.

He called on states that had not adopted the Child Rights Act to urgently do so and take all the children off the streets so that they could get an education.

READ ALSO: IPOB Cannot Give Sit-At-Home Order In Rivers – Wike

“South-West has 54 universities, graduates are being churned out daily and nobody is planning for their future,” he said.

“We are asking you because Lagos is where everybody comes to. This is the home of every Nigerian and we are asking you to intensify your efforts and increase the budget of the poor so that there will be peace.

“It is now clear in our country that without peace for the poor, there cannot be peace for the rich. For those who want to fight banditry and terrorism, we must put all our children in school.”

The protesters, which included trade unions, civil society, students, farmers and peasants, were led by Jaye Gaskiya, a foremost activist.

Gaskiya said the protest was organised to express displeasure over how badly the country had degenerated.

He expressed worry that Nigeria, characterised by extreme poverty, arms proliferation, religious intolerance, the rise of hate and ethnic nationalism is moving towards social upheavals due to exploitation of the people, greed and avarice of a spineless political class that has reached its end.

El-Rufai Lacks Power To Declare NLC Chairman Wanted – Falana

A file photo of Femi Falana SAN

 

Human Rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has slammed Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, for declaring President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba and other union leaders wanted.

The NLC had on Monday embarked on a protest and strike to press home their demand bordering on the mass sack of workers in the state. The strike has paralysed critical sectors of the economy in the state.

Kaduna State government in response declared Wabba and other NLC leaders wanted for economic sabotage and attacks on public infrastructure in Kaduna State under the Miscellaneous Offences Act.

Reacting to El-Rufai’s declaration, Falana described as ‘laughable’ the claim that the labour leaders contravened the provisions of the Miscellaneous Offences Act.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Governors’ Forum Calls For Calm As Labour, Kaduna Govt Disagree

“The statement is laughable as it is common knowledge that Comrade Wabba and his colleagues are on the streets of Kaduna leading the peaceful protests embarked upon by the entire workers in the State since yesterday. The order of the Governor cannot be enforced for the following reasons:

“1. By the combined effect of the Trade Union Act and the Nigerian Constitution, Comrade Wabba and other labour leaders have the unquestionable rights to participate in the peaceful warning strike and mass protests against further retrenchment of workers in the Kaduna State public service.

“2. The Miscellaneous Offences Act is not a state statute but a federal enactment. To that extent, if Governor El Rufai has evidence that Comrade Wabba and other labour leaders have contravened any provisions of the Act he is required to lodge a complaint in any of the police stations in Kaduna State. The Governor lacks the power to declare any alleged offender wanted under the Act or any other law whatsoever.

“3. Furthermore, since Comrade Wabba and other labour leaders are entitled to the fundamental right of fair hearing including the presumption of innocence guaranteed by section 36 of the Constitution the Governor of Kaduna lacks the power to declare them wanted.”

Falana, therefore, called on the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies to ignore the “illegal statement” by Governor El Rufai.

Labour Dispute: Firm Action Needed To Reverse Attacks On Jobs In Kaduna – Falana

File photo of Femi Falana

 

The Chairman of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and beyond (ASCAB), Femi Falana, has reacted to the planned strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), saying a firm action is needed to reverse the massive attacks on jobs in Kaduna State.

NLC had vowed to down tool on Monday to press home its demand to the general public, especially the Kaduna State Government which disengaged some civil servants.

In April, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai announced his intention to sack some workers in the state, citing fiscal reasons.

But Falana, who is also a human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), backed NLC’s decision to embark on a five-day strike.

READ ALSO: We Will Enforce Ban On Open Grazing – Abia Govt

He also called on well-meaning Nigerians to provide support for the industrial action, which he described as essential.

“Firm action is needed to reverse the massive attacks on jobs and poverty-induced insecurity in Kaduna State,” he said via a statement issued on Sunday.

“Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and beyond (ASCAB) fully supports the call from the NLC for a five-day strike across Kaduna State in the week beginning 17th May.  We call on all our affiliates and supporters to provide support for this essential strike.”

Read the full statement issued by Falana below:

Solidarity and Unity Against Retrenchments in Kaduna State

Alliance On Surviving COVID-19 And Beyond (ASCAB) fully supports the call from the NLC for a five-day strike across Kaduna State in the week beginning 17th May.  We call on all our affiliates and supporters to provide support for this essential strike.  Firm action is needed to reverse the massive attacks on jobs and poverty-induced insecurity in Kaduna State.

The economy of Kaduna was traditionally built around textile factories and the public sector.  In the decade before the current Governor came to power, the last four major textile factories were closed with many of the workers not receiving any terminal benefits (despite two of the factories being mainly owned by the Governments of the Northern states). Rather than seeking to address this economic decline, Governor Rufai has retrenched perhaps 60,000 public sector workers and many have not received their due payments.

Kaduna State is now a dangerous state in Nigeria to live, work or visit in terms of the regularity of bloodshed, kidnappings and killings by bandits and ethnoreligious inspired violence. The level of insecurity in Kaduna State today is a function of unprecedented, cruel anti-workers policy of the Kaduna State Government including repeated mass layoffs.  The uncontrolled insecurity is therefore the ’harvest’ or product of the State’s anti-labour policies.

The downward spiral of lay-offs and increased insecurity

In 2016, over 13,000 workers considered to be ghost workers, were dismissed. The following year another 40,000 public sector workers were retrenched. Around half of these were teachers. The state arbitrarily pegged the pass mark for their competency test at an unprecedented 75 percent.  Many of these teachers did not receive any redundancy money.

From April of this year, the State Government has been dismissing perhaps as many as another 17,000 workers.  This includes 6,000 local government and primary health care workers who have all received their marching orders.  The remaining 11,000 workers from the state ministries have been listed for dismissal on account of having spent 30 years and above in service and/or being on level 14 and above.

Pensioners who have earned pensions for between 5 and 10 years and have ‘refused to die’ are no longer to be paid. The State Government maintains that their children should take care of them. The Governor claims that these policies are necessary due to declining revenues, but this is far from the truth.

The State has plenty of money – ‘borrows’ from workers. Kaduna State Government has significantly increased its internally generated revenue (IGR) over the last five years.  IGR has increased by about 16% a year in real terms (after taking into account inflation).  So IGR is now about half the total income of the state despite the fact that the monthly FAAC allocations are now increasing again as crude oil prices have recovered from the Covid-19 dip.

In fact actual spending on wages and salaries in 2019 (the last available audited accounts) was about a third the level that was spent on capital.  In addition, the monies owed in salaries, pensions etc grew massively in 2019.  At the end of the year, 40% of the state debt was borrowed from workers’ wages.  Similarly, N132 bn of the N152 bn capital spent by the state during 2019 was borrowed from wages! That is nearly 90% of capital spending by the state was financed from unpaid salaries, pensions etc. The State may be borrowing from China, the World Bank etc to fund urban renewal, but the state is also illegally ‘borrowing’ from its workers to fund almost all of its capital expenditure.  They are then rewarded with repeated waves of retrenchments. The mass retrenchments and ‘borrowings’ from wages have almost certainly had a detrimental effect on security in the state.  It cannot be a coincidence that the state with the highest level of sackings also has one of the worst insecurity records.  Loss of income and livelihoods makes people desperate.  Several reports previously demonstrated the direct link between loss of textile employment and a rise in criminality and drug-taking.

A modern state needs satisfied workers. A modern state can only be built by a well-motivated workforce.  Decent health and education services can only be provided by nurses and teachers who have confidence in the Government, know they will be paid at the end of the month, are not living in

fear of losing their jobs and believe that they will receive their pensions when due as they retire. Governor El-Rufai seems to have fully accepted the ethos of Neoliberalism. The State Government believes the rich and business people have to be handsomely rewarded and incentivised to ‘invest’ in the state.  In contrast, the workers have to be paid the lowest possible salaries, beaten into submission and periodically terrorised by mass sackings.

ASCAB supports the strike action to stop retrenchments. ASCAB believes that the strike action is necessary to force Governor El-Rufai to stop his policy of retrenchments and job losses.  We welcome the work that the trade unions have undertaken to embark on the strike action. We call on all trade unionists in Kaduna to ensure the success of the strike actions. ASCAB calls on all our supporters, all trade unions and unionists across Nigeria to support the strike action in Kaduna State. We contend that halting job losses would be a major contribution to reducing insecurity across the state.

Support the strike in Kaduna from 17th May!

Say no to retrenchments!!

Retrenchments breed insecurity!!!

Femi Falana, SAN

Interim National Chair, ASCAB.

16/5/2021

Open Grazing: Falana Commends Southern Governors, Asks Them To Legalise Ban

Human rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has commended the southern governors for banning open grazing in the 17 southern states of the country.

Falana, who spoke during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, asked the governors to back their ban on open grazing with a legal instrument to enable the prosecution of offenders.

He also asked the governors to ensure state attorneys general come together and put in machinery for translating the resolutions into laws.

“I have read the resolutions and for me, the governors have done very well. They need to mobilise their northern colleagues, they need to walk their talk because if you expect that the presidency will act on this resolution, the governors may be wasting their precious time,” he said.

“Each of the governors will have to make enabling laws to translate the decision in the communiqué to legal instruments.”

READ ALSO: FULL COMMUNIQUE: Southern Governors Call For National Dialogue, Ban Open Grazing

The popular lawyer also reacted to the governors’ demand for restructuring of the country, coupled with the issue of control of resources.

Human Rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, speaks during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today on March 10, 2021.

 

He said their resolution was timely, especially as it relates to their quest for fiscal federalism in the country.

Falana added, “For the entire country, these resolutions will be very useful; they have come at the right time, not too late, the governors have now formally joined the campaign for restructuring.”

His comments come 24 hours after the regional governors converged at the Delta State Government House in Asaba to hold talks on the state of the nation.

After the meeting on Tuesday, the regional governors announced a ban on open grazing in all the 17 Southern states.

They also recommended that the Federal Government should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.

They called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency and importance, address Nigerians on the frightening state of insecurity across the nation and convoke a national dialogue.

The meeting followed the worsening insecurity in the country ranging from terrorism to banditry, militancy and calls for secession.

ASCAB Writes Senate, Seeks Reversal Of ‘Fraudulent’ Privatisation Programmes

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

 

A civil society coalition, Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), has written to the Senate, asking the upper chamber to set up an agency that would reverse alleged fraudulent privatisation programmes carried out in the country.

ASCAB in a letter dated April 28 and addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, called on the parliament to mount pressure on the executive to act on its report on Nigeria’s past privatisation programmes.

It will be recalled that the Senate had in 2011 set up a committee to investigate the privatisation and commercialisation activities of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) from 1999 to 2011.

The committee, which was chaired by Senator Lawan, had said it discovered some sharp practices in the exercise, ranging from alleged fraud and abuse of power.

As a result, the upper chamber advised the Federal Government to reverse some of the privatisation programmes.

READ ALSO: INEC Announces Date For 2023 General Elections

But ASCAB’s interim Chairman, Femi Falana, said the Senate should use “legislative tools to put pressure on the Executive” to implement the committee report.

He called on the lawmakers to “enact an Act to facilitate the establishment of a body that would actualize the reversal of all past privatizations which your (Lawan’s) Committee found were characterized by abuses, illegality and fraud.”

“The Senate should use legislative tools to put pressure on the Executive to implement the recommendations of the “REPORT OF THE AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATION OF THE PRIVATIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION ACTIVITIES OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (BPE) FROM 1999 TO 2011,” he said.

“That the National Assembly should enact an Act to facilitate the establishment of a body that would actualize the reversal of all past privatizations which your Committee found were characterized by abuses, illegality and fraud, pursuant to Section 16(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.”

READ THE LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE SENATE BELOW:

28th April 2021

Senator Ahmad I. Lawan

The Senate President

National Assembly Complex

FCT, Abuja

Dear Sir,

AN OPEN CALL ON THE SENATE PRESIDENT TO PUT LEGISLATIVE PRESSURE ON THE EXECUTIVE TO IMPLEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE “REPORT OF THE AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATION OF THE PRIVATIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION ACTIVITIES OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (BPE) FROM 1999 TO 2011” CHAIRED BY SENATOR AHMAD I. LAWAN

ASCAB recalls that in your capacity as a Senator, you chaired the Senate AD-HOC Committee that investigated privatization and commercialization activities from 1999 to 2011.

The verdict of the Committee that you chaired is that the privatization exercise in the period 1999 to 2011 was an abysmal failure in that there were abuses of the prescribed procedure, which facilitated the looting of public assets and transfer of same to private individuals and/or companies.

The confounding findings of your Committee compelled the Committee to call for reversal of listed privatizations and the prosecution of identified individuals, among others.

Coincidentally, you are today the President of the Senate. ASCAB, therefore, calls on you to use your good office to do the following:

  1. That the Senate should use legislative tools to put pressure on the Executive to implement the recommendations of the “REPORT OF THE AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATION OF THE PRIVATIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION ACTIVITIES OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (BPE) FROM 1999 TO 2011”
  2. That the National Assembly should enact an Act to facilitate the establishment of a body that would actualize the reversal of all past privatizations which your Committee found were characterized by abuses, illegality and fraud, pursuant to Section 16(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, which provides as follows:

(3) A body shall be set up by an Act of the National Assembly which shall have power: (a) to review, from time to time, the ownership and control of business enterprises operating in Nigeria and make recommendations to the President on the same; and

(b) to administer any law for the regulation of the ownership and control of such enterprises.

In order to remind the Senate of the findings in the Report of the Senate’s AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATION OF THE PRIVATIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION ACTIVITIES OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (BPE) FROM 1999 TO 2011, ASCAB has reproduced some of the key findings of your Committee. They are as contained in the enclosed publication entitled, “The Case Against Privatization”.

ASCAB is committed to partnering with the Senate in popularizing the findings of your Committee and putting public pressure on the Executive arm of Government to implement the Recommendations of your Committee.

We look forward to a collaborative campaign that would lead to a reversal of the dispossession of the public and the taking back from the private sector of the resources that have been fraudulently transferred to private individuals and/or their companies.

Thanks very much for your anticipated cooperation.

Yours faithfully,

Femi Falana, SAN

Interim National Chair

Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 And Beyond (ASCAB).

Maina’s Trial: Court Fixes March 17 For Falana, Malami, Others To Testify

A photo combination of Mr Femi Falana and Mr Abubakar Malami.

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed March 17 and 18 for a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana; the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, and nine others to appear before the court.

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, fixed the dates on Thursday for the persons to testify in the trial of Abdulrasheed Maina, a former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT).

Justice Abang had issued a subpoena on Maina’s request, compelling the AGF, Falana, and the former acting chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, and the eight others to come before the court on March 9, 10, and 11 to give their testimonies.

At the resumed trial, Falana informed the court that although he has not been served with the subpoena, he heard about it and decided to come before the court out of respect.

He said the subpoena would provide an opportunity for him to put an end to the needless controversy surrounding a property he never bought.

During the proceedings, the defendant called his second witness, Charles Emoakemeh, who is a retired prison officer.

Emoakemeh told the court that Maina was appointed as the Director of the Pension Office and recovered about N10 billion for the Federal Government after removing ghost pensioners.

He also noted that as the Head of the PRTT, Maina did not have control over the disbursement of monies unless approval was sought from the then Head of Service.

On March 4, Maina’s first witness, Ngozika Ihuoma, had told the court about monies and properties recovered by the former PRTT boss and how Magu to whom the properties were remitted, had allegedly sold some of the properties to friends and associate, including Falana.

Femi Falana Backs Workers’ Protests, Says March In Order

Human Rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has backed the protests embarked upon by the Nigerian workers over the proposed amendments to the minimum wage.

Falana, who spoke during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, said the march was in order.

“As far as I am concerned, the protest by the labour unions today was in order. And I do hope that members of the National Assembly and the various Houses of Assemblies in the country will appreciate the need to prevent the payment of Starvation Wages in our country which is what the National Minimum Wage is all about,” he said.

According to the senior lawyer, no fewer than 18 states of the federation have breached the Minimum Wage act enacted in 2019.

He advised governors to prioritise projects in order to pay the minimum wage to works under their domain.

While noting that the Nigerian government is directing the people to tighten their belts, Falana maintained that the masses are always subjected to the recession.

“Our people are asked to tighten their belts all the time. Whether there is a recession or not, for the people, they are permanently in recession in our country because of gross mismanagement of the economy of our country

“Section 16 of the Constitution provides that workers in Nigeria shall be paid a living minimum wage. And you will agree with me that ₦30,000 cannot be said to be a living minimum wage in Nigeria today,” he added.

Workers had staged a nationwide protest, kicking against the plan by both the Federal and state governments to freely negotiate the minimum wage with their workers in line with the nation’s federal system.

Human Rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, speaks during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today on March 10, 2021.

 

About a fortnight ago, the House of Representatives introduced a bill which according to the sponsor, Hon. Garba Mohammed would create room for a free negotiation of the minimum wage with federal and state workers in line with the nation’s federal system.

READ ALSO: Minimum Wage: Protesting Workers Force Their Way Into National Assembly

But the workers stressed that it is an attempt by some state governors and members of the National Assembly to short-change them.

This protest which is being coordinated from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, is said to be holding following attempts by some lawmakers at the National Assembly to remove the Minimum Wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List.

Members of the organised labour from various members organisations arrived at the venue for the take-off of the protest in various states, most bearing placards with different inscriptions.

The National President of Nigerian Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba while addressing the workers at the Unity Fountain in Abuja stated that the right of Nigerian workers to enjoy the minimum wage which is in line with the International Labour Organisation.

Ibori Loot Should Be Returned To Delta Govt, Says Falana

 

Human rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has called for the return of the £4.2million looted by ex-Delta State Governor, James Ibori back to the Niger Delta state.

Falana made the call on Wednesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, noting that the Federal Government cannot lay claim to the fund under any law.

“The Federal Government ought to be commended for pursuing this matter having regards to the fact that this case is a collabo issue between the EFCC under Malami/Ribadu and the Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom,” he said.

Falana added, “Having acknowledged the role of the Federal Government, the fund has to return to the source. As the Attorney General has said, the money is over £100 million. So what has been released now is the first tranche of £4.2 million.

“Since the money left the covers of the Delta State Government, it has to be returned once it is recovered.”

READ ALSO: UK Govt To Return £4.2m Ibori Loot

While noting that the ex-Delta governor was convicted in the UK under the country’s law, the senior lawyer said the victim of corruption has to be compensated.

 

Falana argued that Article 35 of the United Nations Convention that is ratified by the United Kingdom and Nigeria respectively, any proceed recovered from corruption should be expended on the victims.

To the human rights lawyer, the victim in the said corrupt practice is the people of Delta State and the state government.

His remarks come a day after the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to return the sum of £4.2 million assets stolen by former Delta State Governor, James Ibori to Nigeria.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing who announced this in Abuja, the nation’s capital said the money was recovered from friends and family members of the former governor.