Protest Marches Are Not Treasonable Offences In Nigeria, Says Falana

 

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, says protest marches in Nigeria are not treasonable offences.

Falana made this known on Sunday according to a statement he issued.

His comments follow the arrest of former Presidential Aspirant of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the 2019 general elections, Omoyele Sowore by the Department of State Service.

While describing the planned protests by Sowore and some individuals as ‘treasonable felony and acts of terrorism’, the police vowed to resist any act that can lead to a breach of law and order in the country.

But reacting, Falana noted that the Nigeria Police Force has capitalized on the use of the word “revolution” to criminalise the protests.

READ ALSO: DSS Arrests Omoyele Sowore

“No doubt, the Nigeria Police Force has capitalized on the use of the word “revolution” to criminalise the protests. If revolution has become a criminal offence in Nigeria why were the leaders of the APC not charged for claiming to have carried out  Nigeria’s democratic revolution which terminated the 16-year rule of the PDP in 2015?

“Why was Dr Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, the presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) not threatened with treason when he asked Nigerians to rise up for revolution via the 2019 general election?

“Did all Nigerian senators led by APC members not commit treason or terrorism when they spent one and a half hours on May 14, 2019 to debate Senator Chukwuka Utazi’s timely motion on “Bridging the gap between the haves and have-not to nip in the bud the seeds of a looming violent revolution?, he asked.

Falana also criticised the Muhammadu Buhari administration for clamping down on individuals perceived as its critics.

He noted that “it is worrisome that the Buhari administration has decided to extend the ambit of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act to cover individuals and organisations that are critical of official policies or perceived marginalisation within the federation.”

Court To Rule On El-Zakzaky’s Bail Application August 5

Court To Rule On El-Zakzaky's Bail Application August 5
A file photo of Mr Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

 

 

A Kaduna State High Court has set aside August 5, 2019, to rule on the bail application filed by the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat.

Counsel to the El-Zakzakys, Mr Femi Falana, had filed the application on behalf of his clients on July 18.

They are seeking permission to travel abroad for further medical treatment following the health condition of the Shiites’ leader.

[READ ALSO] Borno Funeral: Nigerian Govt Sends ‘Air Patrols’ After Attackers

At the resumed hearing on Monday, Falana said his clients were not in court due to their bad health condition.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria told the court that the health condition of his clients was getting worse by the day.

He added that only a foreign medical treatment was required to stabilise them to enable them face the main trial.

However, the prosecuting counsel Debris Bayero opposed the bail application.

He informed the court that El-Zakzaky’s medical condition can be treated locally, insisting that there was no need for the court to release him on bail to travel abroad.

After listening to the submissions from both counsels, the presiding judge, Justice Darius Khobo adjourned the ruling on the application to August 5.

El-Zakzaky and his wife are facing an eight-count of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disturbance of public peace.

The charges were filed against them by the Kaduna State Government and the duo were first arraigned in May 2018.

Ahead of today’s sitting, security was beefed up in the Kaduna State capital and environs, especially at the entrance and exit points of the court complex.

The bail hearing came barely three days after a Federal High Court in Abuja granted the Federal Government the power to proscribe the Shiite group.

But Mr Falana condemned the action which he said was illegal and asked the government to withdraw the order.

The government secured the court order following a series of protests by the Shiites in Abuja to demand the release of their leader who has been in detention for more than three years.

Recent protests by the group turned violent as they clashed with the police in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Proscription Of IMN Is ‘Immoral And Illegal’ – Falana

‘Elzakzaky Must Not Be Allowed To Die,’ Falana Warns FG
Femi Falana                                                                                                                       Ibrahim El-Zakzaky

 

 

Mr Femi Falana, lawyer to the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, has condemned the action of the Federal Government to proscribe the Shiite group.

In a statement forwarded to Channels Television on Saturday, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights activist described the proscription as ‘immoral and illegal’.

He believes that the order is particularly opportunistic on the part of the Sunnis occupying public offices to use the instrumentality of the state to liquidate the Shiites.

READ ALSO: FG Secures Court Order To Proscribe IMN

Mr Falana noted that the IMN was proscribed by the Kaduna State government in 2016, just like the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was proscribed in 2017.

He added that the groups have continued to operate in defiance of the proscription orders.

The senior lawyer explained that he secured an Appeal Court judgment on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari and his defunct political party, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2003 after the police allegedly unleashed violent attacks on Nigerians protesting in Kano against the alleged rigging of the 2003 General Elections.

According to him, the police had accused the protesters of not obtaining a police permit before their demonstration.

Mr Falana said at that time, the justices of the Court of Appeal unanimously held that the rights of Nigerians to protest against the policies of the government was part of the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

He, therefore, asked the government to withdraw the proscription order, insisting that it would not stand as the fundamental right of the Shiites to freedom of religion was constitutionally guaranteed.

 

Read the full statement below:

On The Immoral And Illegal Proscription Of IMN

The IMN was proscribed by the Kaduna State government in 2016. The proscription was gazetted. But IMN has continued to operate in defiance of the proscription.

IPOB was proscribed in 2017 by the Buhari regime via an ex parte order issued by the federal high court. In line with the court order, the proscription was gazetted. But IPOB has continued to operate in spite of the proscription.

However, in a desperate bid to prevent the Shiites from demanding for the release of their detained leader, Elzakzaky and his wife, from the custody of the State Security Service the Buhari administration has proscribed the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

Since there are millions of Shiites who belong to the IMN the federal government will soon realise that it has merely driven the body underground.

In 2003, General Buhari and other members of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party held a rally in Kano to protest the rigging of the 2003 General Election by the Olusegun Obasanjo regime.

The rally was violently attacked by the Police on the ground that the ANPP leaders did not obtain police permit.

On the instructions of General Buhari and other the ANPP leaders, I challenged the disruption of the rally and the legal validity of police permit for rallies and political meetings at the federal high court.

The case was won by the ANPP. Apart from condemning the violent disruption of the rally by the Police, the Court declared that police permit for rallies was illegal and unconstitutional.

The appeal filed against the judgment by the Police was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

In fact, the Justices of the Court of Appeal unanimously held that the right of Nigerians to protest against the policies of the government is part of the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

Therefore, the proscription of the IMN for the demonstrations of the Shiites against the disobedience of court orders by the Buhari regime is immoral and illegal in every material particular.

It is particularly opportunistic on the part of the Sunnis occupying public offices to use the instrumentality of the State to liquidate the Shiites.

The illegal proscription of the IMN should be withdrawn. It will not stand as the fundamental right of the Shiites to freedom of religion is constitutionally guaranteed.

Femi Falana SAN.

Falana Urges FG To Enter Into Dialogue With Shiites

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has asked the Federal Government to enter into dialogue with members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) popularly known as Shiites.

Falana made the call in a statement on Tuesday in reaction to the violent clash between the police and Shiites in the nation’s capital Abuja.

“Since the fundamental rights of citizens to freedom of religion and freedom of expression are recognised by the Constitution of Nigeria, we urge the federal government to enter into dialogue with the Islamic Movement of Nigeria with a view to finding a lasting solution to the crisis between the Sunnis and Shiites,” he said.

Falana, who is also the counsel to Shiite leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, however, condemned the violent protest which led to the loss of innocent lives.

READ ALSO: Again, Shiite Protesters Clash With Police In Abuja

He also sympathized with the bereaved families of the deceased, calling on the Federal Government to obey all court orders.

“Just as we condemned the brutal massacre of hundreds of Shiites by the army in the past, we also condemn the avoidable death of the police officer and the channels’ reporter as well as others during the protests. we deeply sympathise with the bereaved family members of the deceased,” he said.

His comments follow the violent protest between the Shiite members and police personnel in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The protest claimed the lives of a Channels Television reporter, Precious Owolabi, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations at the FCT Command, Usman Umar, among several others.

Nigeria Must Not Be Turned Into A Killing Field, Balarabe, Falana Tell Govt

Balarabe, Falana Ask Nigerian Govt To Tackle 'Worsening Insecurity Honestly'
Femi Falana                                                                                                                              Balaraba Musa

 

 

A former governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, have asked the Nigerian government to address the nation’s security challenges squarely.

In a statement jointly signed on Sunday and titled ‘Time To Save Nigeria’, both men decried the security situation in the country which they said was worsening.

They, therefore, challenged the government under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari to perform the constitutional duty of keeping the nation secure.

According to them, Nigeria must not be turned into a killing field and there is a need for the government to confront security challenges honestly.

READ ALSOGunmen Abduct Four Turkish Nationals In Kwara

The former governor and the human rights activist also asked the law enforcement and other security agencies to fight crimes competently and strictly according to the law.

In doing so, they said the ethnic and religious identity of a criminal was not of any importance as the victims of criminal activities belong to the various ethnic grounds and religions.

The duo asked the government to rethink its internal security strategy by considering some of the patriotic suggestions from conferences and panels it has set up in the last few years.

They also want the police and other security agencies to be equipped and organised to perform their duty in light of the dimensions of insecurity in the country.

Read the full statement below:

Time To Save Nigeria

Amid the cacophony of ethnic and regional voices, it is imperative that pan-Nigerian voices should be heard louder than ever before to save Nigeria from disintegration. The symptoms of the brewing socio-political crisis are manifest.

The Nigerian state has failed to tackle the worsening insecurity plaguing every part of the country. Nigeria is increasingly being defined by insecurity.

Killings have become almost a daily affair in Nigeria. Terror attacks, banditry, kidnapping, and armed robbery are perpetrated by criminals with reckless abandon.

In practical terms, no part of Nigeria is immune to violent crimes, although the incidence might be relatively higher in one part than the other at this time. Tragic news of lives wasted issues from the north and south, east and west.

In response to the flourishing crimes in the face of the worrisome incompetence of the state, ethnic and regional champions have resorted into the dangerous ethnic profiling and demonization of others.

It is the reign of hate speech and marketing of prejudice. Claiming to speak for “our people,” they issue irresponsible ultimatums and orders for which they lack constitutional authority to enforce.

Some of those who are supposed to act as statesmen at this critical hour have instead joined the ranks of issuers of prejudicial statements.

The appropriate response to these sectional voices is not to glibly question the patriotism of any person or group.  The effective response is to compel the Nigerian state under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari to perform the constitutional duty of keeping Nigeria secure.  

Nigeria must not be turned into a killing field. The way to take the wind out of the sails of merchants of hate is for the government to confront the worsening insecurity in Nigeria squarely and honestly.  

Law enforcement and other security agencies should fight crimes competently and strictly according to the law.

In doing so, the ethnic and religious identity of the criminal is not of any importance. Rather ethnic and religious profiling could distract from the urgent task of stamping out crimes.

The truth is that every ethnic and religious group has its own share of criminals. We must separate crimes from prejudice so that criminals could be fought with a unity of purpose as a nation.

It is also an indisputable fact that the victims of criminal activities belong to the various ethnic grounds and religions.

We are convinced that the urgency of the situation should compel the Buhari administration to rethink its internal security strategy by considering some of the patriotic suggestions from conferences and panels set up by government in the last few years. In our view, another conference (by whatever name) may not be coming up anything new given that the Nigerian condition is akin to an emergency.

The police and other security agencies should be equipped and organised to perform their duty in the light of the new dimensions of insecurity.

The justice system, especially in the states should be alert to their responsibility of diligent and swift prosecution of arrested suspected criminals.

It is the duty of the respective attorneys-general in the affected states to prosecute suspected killers, kidnappers, and armed robbers.

All the tiers of government have responsibilities for security, working in unison. If the degeneration in the Nigerian condition is not halted, the nation may descend into anarchy. Doubtless, the poor people will bear the brunt of such an avoidable disaster.

We, therefore, call on President to rally the country around a national purpose of security everywhere in Nigeria as the constitution demands. This leadership duty should be in words and action.

The President should address the nation specifically for the purpose of giving assurance of his commitment to the unity of Nigeria amidst adequate security.

It is also the duty of genuine lovers of peace, freedom, and development of Nigeria to speak up in order to save the nation from descent of anarchy. 

It is time that pan-Nigerian voices are heard loud and clear. 

Balarabe Musa, Kaduna. 

                 &

Femi Falana, Lagos.

Dated July 21, 2019.

Election Petitions Should Be Handled By Retired Judges – Falana

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

 

Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana, has called for an amendment of the Constitution in order to allow retired judges to handle election petitions as well as appeals arising from them.

He made the appeal in a statement issued on Thursday, saying that the injustice meted out to litigants whose cases are not political, should stop forthwith in the interest of justice.

According to him, over 350 judges drawn from State High Courts, Federal High Court and National Industrial Court who are handling election petitions have adjourned all matters pending in their courts “sine die”.

“Their Lordships and Ladyships are said to have left their jurisdictions for “national assignment” in other parts of the country.

“Apart from appeals arising from pre-election cases and election petitions, both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court are adjourning all pending appeals till 2020 and 2021.

“The vacation of the Justices of the Court of Appeal has been cancelled to enable them to handle election-related appeals,” he said.

Read Also: Tribunal Orders INEC Chairman To Produce Documents Requested By PDP, Atiku

The SAN further stated that since all litigants are equal before the law, it is high time the preference given to election petitions and appeals by Nigerian courts was reviewed.

According to him, in some neighbouring African countries election petitions are not handled by regular courts but by constitutional courts.

Therefore, “if our retired judges can handle arbitral matters and participate in judicial commissions of enquiry they should be saddled with the responsibility to handle election petitions and appeals arising from them”.

‘Elzakzaky Must Not Be Allowed To Die,’ Falana Warns FG

‘Elzakzaky Must Not Be Allowed To Die,’ Falana Warns FG

 

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, has cautioned the Federal Government against the continued detention of Sheik Ibraheem Elzakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.

He gave the warning in a statement sent to Channels Television on Tuesday.

Falana wondered why the government has continued to keep the leader of the Shiites in custody despite court judgements ordering his release.

He added that medical experts have confirmed that Elzakzaky was ill and recommended that he should be flown out of the country for proper treatment.

READ ALSO: Those Politicising Isolated Cases Of Insecurity Are Not Patriotic – Buhari

The senior advocate raised concern that the nation may be heading into another insurgency war, should the Shiites’ leader die in detention.

He noted a series of protests by the Shiites in Abuja to call for the release of their leader, some of which turned violent with casualties recorded.

According to the human rights activist, the Boko Haram sect declared war on the people of Nigeria in 2009 following the murder of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf.

He warned that the nation cannot afford another insurgency war, especially at a time when it was battling banditry and other forms of crimes.

Read the full statement below:

On December 12, 2015, the army violently attacked the Shiites during a religious convention in Zaria. At the end of the attack over 1,000 Shiites were reported to have been brutally massacred on the orders of Army High Command.

The official justification for the massacre was that the Shiites had wanted to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff, General Yussuf Buratai. Without any autopsy or identification, the slaughtered Shiites were given a mass burial in an unmarked grave in Mango village in Kaduna State.

Even though the leader of the Shiites, Sheik Ibraheem Elzakzaky was not at the scene of the attack his residence was invaded by the rampaging troops two days later. The troops set the house ablaze, shot at Elzakzaky and his wife, Malama Zeinab Elzakzaky and killed 3 of their sons in cold blood in their presence.

As if such barbaric assault was not enough the army arrested and held Elzakzaky and his wife in custody before handing them over to the State Security Service. At that stage, the houses of Elzakzaky and other leaders in Zaria were demolished by the Kaduna State on the orders of Governor Nasir El Rufai.

After the massacre of the Shiites and the demolition of the houses of their leaders, the Kaduna State government instituted a judicial commission of enquiry to probe the violent attack.

The detained Elzakzaky was prevented from responding to the allegations made against him and his group at the enquiry. But the judicial commission found that there was no plan by the Shiites to assassinate General Buratai.

It was also revealed at the panel that the 347 Shiites were massacred by the army in violations of the Army Rules of Engagement and the Geneva Conventions. Apart from condemning the brutal massacre of the Shiites, the judicial commission recommended that the culprits be prosecuted.

Instead of implementing the recommendation by prosecuting the well-known murderers, the Kaduna State government turned round to charge over 300 Shiites with the culpable homicide of a soldier who was killed by his colleagues during the attack.

But the defence team convinced the Kaduna State High Court to free the Shiites as they were not involved in the commission of the offence. Accordingly, the charge was dismissed for want of evidence while the trial court proceeded to discharge and acquit all the defendants.

Meanwhile, the suit challenging the illegal detention of Elzakzaky and his wife was decided in their favour by the Federal High Court on December 2, 2016.

The presiding judge, Kolawole J. (as he then was) directed the Federal Government to release the couple from unlawful custody, pay them N50 million reparation and provide them with a temporary house since the army had burnt down their personal residence.

But the Buhari regime has characteristically treated the court orders with arrogant contempt. Curiously, the Court of Appeal has refused to hear the application to commit the Director-General of the State Security Service for contempt of court!

Upon our legal advice, the Shiites approached three separate High Courts to challenge the violation of their right to assemble and protect peacefully. The Shiites won the cases against the Federal Government as the courts upheld their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

But out of sheer impunity, the army has killed about 50 Shiites at Abuja for protesting against the continued detention of Elzakzaky and his wife.

As the Federal Government could no longer justify the illegal detention of Elzakzaky and his wife, it directed the Kaduna State government to file a charge against them. Hence, they have been charged with culpable homicide at the Kaduna State High Court for the death of the same soldier.

Pending the trial, the team of local and international physicians who examined Elzakzaky and his wife on the orders of the trial court confirmed that their health has deteriorated and recommended that they be allowed to travel abroad for urgent medical treatment.

In particular, Elzakzaky has lost an eye while he is the process of losing the other one. The wife can no longer walk as a result of the gun wounds inflicted on her during the military attack of December 2015.

Without adducing any reason whatsoever the Federal Government has ignored the recommendation of the physicians.

The Shiites are currently protesting the refusal of the Buhari regime to release Elzakzaky and his wife from custody to enable them to travel abroad to receive urgent medical treatment at their own expense.

Elzakzaky must not be allowed to die due to medical neglect as it may provoke a crisis of monumental proportions.

Therefore, the Federal Government should implement the unanimous resolution of the House of Representatives for the release of Elzakzaky and his wife without any further delay.

Finally, it would be recalled that the Boko Haram sect declared a war on the people of Nigeria in 2009 following the cold murder of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf by the Police.

Since then the nation has known no peace. This nation cannot afford another war of insurgency which is being provoked by the contemptuous conduct of the Federal Government in the handling of the case of the Elzakzakys.

Femi Falana SAN.

Soyinka, Falana, Others Pay Tribute, Lay Wreath On Abiola’s Grave

 

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Human Rights lawyer Femi Falana and several others on Sunday, gathered to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the death of Chief Moshood Abiola.

They gathered at his residence in Ikeja, Lagos for a wreath-laying ceremony even as they expressed concerns about the state of the nation.

The late Chief Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, died on July 7, 1998, after spending years in detention in the fight for his mandate and for Nigeria’s return to democracy.

Soyinka, as well as some others present at the ceremony, while paying tribute to Abiola lamented that Nigeria has not achieved his vision and Nigerians were still battling poverty and injustice among other things.

The Nobel Laureate, who has repeatedly called for decisive action to combat insecurity in the country, drew attention to the rate of poverty in the country.

“I am afraid. Just looking at the level of poverty scares me. I am afraid for this nation,” he said.

“For the first time, in a very deep, visceral way, I really am afraid for this country.”

Mr Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, recalled Abiola’s vision of the nation and called for unity.

He said, “Abiola stood for justice for all. Abiola’s mandate was a reflection of the popular will of the people. That mandate, that election defied ethnicity, religion or any other primordial consideration.

“Therefore, if we want to recognise June 12, if we want to celebrate Abiola, we must celebrate the unity of our people and not the disunity of our country”.

Its High Time Nigeria Recovers $12.2billion Missing Under Babangida – Falana

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

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has said that it is time for the Nigerian people to get answers to the where the sum of $12.2billion allegedly disappeared to under the watch of former military leader, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. 

The rights activist made the statement while giving a keynote address at the Conference on “Agenda Setting for Citizens’ Interaction with Stolen Assets Recovery: Abacha Loot Recovery and Utilization as Case Study”,

At the event which was organized by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) in Abuja, Mr. Falana said many Nigerians have indeed wondered why the anti-graft agencies have not investigated the disappearance of the sum of $12.2 from under the Ibrahim Babangida military junta.

He said that in the past the Federal High Court has struck out the case to get answers to the missing funds for want of locus standi on the part of the plaintiffs, he, however, argued that since the anti-graft agencies have the statutory power to recover stolen public money when traced, then they should do so and avail Nigerians answers as to the whereabouts of the funds.

Below is the full statement by the human rights advocate.

“Beyond the recovery of the Sani Abacha Loot (Being the keynote address delivered by Femi Falana SAN at the Conference on “Agenda Setting for Citizens’ Interaction with Stolen Assets Recovery: Abacha Loot Recovery and Utilization as Case Study” organized by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) held at Abuja on July 3, 2019)

Following the death of the then military Head of State, General Sani Abacha on June 8, 1998, his successor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar ordered a probe into the looting of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 1993-1998. At the end of the enquiry, it was established that the late dictator stole over $5 billion from the vaults of the CBN through his National Security Adviser, Mr. Mohammed Gwazo. A substantial part of the stolen fund has since been traced to over 140 bank accounts in western countries and some remote islands in the world.

READ ALSO: Falana Asks Court To Compel FG To Recover $40bn, N481bn

Based on the report of the investigation the Federal Government recovered $635 million, £75 million, DM 30 million and N9 billion as well as several vehicles and properties in Abuja, Lagos and Kano together with 40% interests in West African Refinery in Sierra Leone. Other assets were recovered from the family and associates of the late General Abacha. The forfeited assets were promulgated into law and signed by General Abubakar on 26th May 1999. I have since confirmed that all the funds and assets listed in the Schedule to the Forfeiture of Assets, Etc. (Certain Persons) Decree no 53 of 1999 had been recovered and forfeited to the Federal Government.

Upon the restoration of civil rule in May 1999 the Olusegun Obasanjo Administration embarked on the recovery of the remaining Abacha loot. At page 495 of the second volume of his book entitled “My Watch” former President Obasanjo stated that “…by the time I left office in May 2009 (sic), over $2 billion and £100 million had been recovered from the Abacha family abroad, and well as N10 billion in cash and properties locally.”

Under the Goodluck Jonathan Administration, the recovery efforts continued and more of the loot was recovered. According to the government, its efforts led to the recovery of $226.3 million from Liechtenstein in addition to the €7.5 Million that was recovered from an associated company of the Abacha’s in Liechtenstein. The Federal Government also recovered and repatriated the sum of £22.5 million confiscated from an associate of the Abacha family by the Authorities of the Island of Jersey.

Based on public demand for a detailed account of the loot recovered by the federal government, a former Minister of Finance, claimed rather falsely that the sum of $500 million from the Abacha loot had been spent on some projects in the six geopolitical zones in the country. To lend credence to the fraudulent claim, the World Bank confirmed, in a reply to an enquiry by SERAP, that the $500 million had been judiciously spent on some development projects. The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA attempted to confirm the projects but could not locate them. It was at that juncture that the Board of the World Bank withdrew its endorsemd nt of the phantom ptojects.

Sometime in 2015, the Premium Times, an online news medium reported that $322 million and £5.5 million from the Abacha loot was released to a former National Security, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd). While confirming the transfer of the fund, a former Minister of Finance stated that it was released under an emergency to purchase arms and ammunition to prosecute the war on terror. From the investigation conducted by the EFCC, it has been confirmed that the fund earmarked for arms procurement was distributed to well-known individuals.

With respect, the excuse for the release of the sum of $322 million and £5.5 million for the alleged prosecution of the war on terror is untenable having regards to the fact that former President Jonathan had secured the approval of the National Assembly to take a loan of $1 billion to equip the armed forces to fight insurgency. Therefore, the self-induced urgency created by the government is not a justification for the utter violation of the Constitution and the Public Procurement Act.

In spite of public pressure, the federal government ignored the demand to account for the loot. Thus, the Socio-Economic and Accountability Project (SERAP) filed an action at the federal high court for mandamus to compel the federal government to account for the loot. In a historic judgment delivered in the case, the presiding judge, Idris J. (as he then was) granted the reliefs sought by SERAP and ordered successive governments to account for all loot recovered since 1999. A former President whose administration recovered the bulk of the loot arrogantly said that the judge was “stupid” for having the temerity to have asked him to account among other rulers.

It is public knowledge that the recovery of the Abacha loot has continued. Last year, the federal government recovered $321 million from Switzerland. Based on the agreement with the Swiss government the said sum of $321 million is currently being distributed to the poorest people in Nigeria as part of the cash transfer policy of the Buhari administration. Another sum of $268 million has just been confiscated by the British government. Curiously, the British, American and Swiss governments are insisting that they are entitled to a share of the confiscated loot. On account of the loot that has recovered so far by the federal government, President Buhari ought to publicly apologize to the Nigerian people having denied that the late General Sani Abacha was involved in the criminal diversion of public funds.

From the foregoing, it is pertinent to note that not less than $3.5 billion had been recovered from the Abacha loot. Much more can still be recovered. But apart from demanding for the full account of the Abacha loot, we must insist that the investigation of the criminal diversion of looted wealth be extended to cover other indicted public officers. During the electioneering campaign last year, President Buhari threatened to probe the $16 billion allegedly purportedly spent on generating electricity in the country. This allegation ought to be investigated without any further delay.

Many Nigerians have indeed wondered why the anti-graft agencies have not investigated the disappearance of the sum of $12.2 from under the Ibrahim Babangida military junta. A few years ago, the SERAP and other 5 other NGOs sought to compel the federal government to recover the huge fund. But the Federal High Court struck out the case for want of locus standi on the part of the plaintiffs. But since the anti-graft agencies have the statutory power to recover stolen public money it is traced. Since the probe has been delayed on the grounds that the federal government could not locate a copy of the report of the Pius Okigbo Panel on reorganisation of the Central Bank. Happily, a human rights body which has found a copy of the report will not hesitate to collaborate with the anti-graft agencies if they are willing to investigate the missing fund.

Finally, while thanking HEDA for this all-important conference I wish to challenge the progressive CSOs in Nigeria to link up with their colleagues in Europe, America and Middle East for joint efforts in mounting pressure on foreign governments, banks and other financial institutions that are warehousing the stolen wealth of the people of Nigeria. We must learn from some CSOs that have embarked on independent initiatives to recover the looted wealth and assets belonging to African countries.”

Falana Asks Court To Compel FG To Recover $40bn, N481bn

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

 

Human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja in which he is seeking to compel the Muhammadu Buhari administration to recover the sum of $40 billion and N481 billion based on the audit of the extractive industry carried out by the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), an agency of the Federal Government.

This was disclosed in a statement issued by Tayo Soyemi for Falana and Falana Chambers.

According to the statement, in the originating summons, Mr Falana is asking the Federal High Court to grant the following reliefs:

1. A DECLARATION that by the express provisions of Sections 2 (a), (b) and 3 (f) of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative Act, the 1st defendant is under a legal obligation to recover the unremitted sums of $22.06Billion and N481.75 Billion Naira owed the Federal Government of Nigeria by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (‘NNPC”); the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (“NPDC”) and other oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria.

2. A DECLARATION that by the express provisions of Sections 2 (a), (b) and 3 (f) of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative Act, the 1st defendant is under a legal obligation to recover the sum of $28Billion lost in revenues that are due to the Federal Government of Nigeria due to failure to review the terms of the 1993 Production Sharing Contracts “PSCs”with International Oil Companies, in line with Section 16 (2) of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act, Cap D3, Laws of the Federation, 2004.”

3. A MANDATORY ORDER of the court directing the 1st defendant to recover the unremitted sums of $22.06Billion and N481.75 Billion Naira owed the Federal Government of Nigeria by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”); the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (“NPDC”) and other oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria.

4. A MANDATORY ORDER of the Court directing the 1st defendant to recover the sum of $28Billion lost in revenues that are due to the Federal Government of Nigeria due to failure to review the terms of the 1993 Production Sharing Contracts “PSCs” with International Oil Companies, in line with Section 16 (2) of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act, Cap D3, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

In the affidavit in support of the originating summons, Mr Falana stated that he had confirmed from NEITI that the Federal Government had failed to recover the outstanding sums of $22.06 Billion and N481.75 Billion owed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (‘NNPC”) and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (“NPDC”) and other unremitted payments by some International Oil Companies.

In addition to the unremitted fund, the senior advocate wants the government to recover the sum of $28 Billion oil revenues which according to him, were lost due to the failure to review the terms of the 1993 Production Sharing Contracts “PSCs” in line with Section 16 (2) of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act, Cap D3, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

Mr. Falana who attached the audited reports of the NEITI to the supporting affidavit further stated that “Nigeria is presently losing much needed revenue due to the failure of the Federal Government to ensure that all payments due to the Federal Government of Nigeria from all extractive industry companies involved in the Production Sharing Contracts, including taxes, royalties, dividends, bonuses, penalties, levies and such like are duly paid to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

The suit is based on the provisions of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative Act which have imposed a duty on the Federal Government to implement the audit reports of NEITI.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and NEITI are the defendants in the suit. Although the Federal High Court has not fixed a date for the hearing of the suit, the defendants have not filed their defence.

Evans Trial: Prosecution Moves To Call Femi Falana As Witness

'Provide A Counsel', Judge Tells Evans As Lawyer Fails To Appear

 

The trial of suspected billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike popularly known as Evans continued on Thursday at the Lagos High Court Sitting in the Igbosere area with the prosecution seeking to add, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana as a witness in the case.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Yakubu Oshoala, who filed an application to that effect, told the court that an issue came up during trial within trial which required the prosecution to call an additional witness.

Evans had told the court that his confessional statement which he made to the police after his arrest in 2017 was made under duress. The court, therefore, conducted a ‘trial within trial’ to ascertain whether the defendant’s statement was actually made under duress.

READ ALSO: Police Arraign Six Men For Stealing Jewelleries Worth N30m From Judge

Evans is currently facing two separate charges, bordering on conspiracy to kidnap, kidnapping and attempted murder, before Justice Adedayo Akintoye.

In the first charge, Evans is standing trial alongside Joseph Emeka, Ugochukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba.

In the second charge, he is standing trial alongside Joseph Emeka, Linus Okpara and Victor Aduba.

At the proceedings on Thursday, the prosecutor told the court that during the ‘trial within trial’, Evans mentioned that Falana came to visit him while in police custody but was prevented from seeing him owing to the excessive torture which he was going through.

The prosecutor therefore said he would want to call the SAN as a witness in the interest of justice.

But the counsel to Evans, Mr R. B. Ekeh, told the court that he was yet to respond to the application. Lawyers to the other defendants’ also said that they had not received the application.

Justice Adedayo Akintoye ordered that all the defendants be served with the application.

After this argument, the third defendant told the court that he had a bail application for his client.

The counsel informed the court that he had served the medical director of Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, the order made by the court on May 23, in which the director was ordered to issue a medical report on the state of health of the third defendant (Linus Opara).

The counsel had claimed that Opara had a failed operation in prison which might require treatment at a hospital outside.

Justice Akintoye then adjourned the case until September 18 for ruling on the application to call Falana as a witness and for hearing of the bail application of the third defendant.

Evans the suspected kidnapper was arrested on June 10, 2017. He was arraigned a month later before Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja on charges of kidnapping.

He was also arraigned before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the same court on different charges.

Falana Asks Chief Judge To Order Inspection Of Detention Facilities

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

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has asked the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to designate judges of the court to conduct a monthly inspection of detention facilities of agencies of the Federal Government.

He made the appeal in a letter addressed to Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati, and made available to Channels TV.

The Senior Advocate says in order to end the illegal detention of criminal suspects and political detainees in the country, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 has made copious provisions for pre-trial detention, detention time limits and monthly inspection of all police stations by Chief Magistrates designated by the Chief Judge of each state of the Federation.

He further stated that pursuant to Section 34 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the Chief Justice of Nigeria directed all Chief Judges in the country to designate Judges to conduct monthly inspections of all police stations and other detention facilities of the agencies of the Federal government authorized to make arrests.

Mr Falana said in line with this directive, the Chief Judges of the Federal Capital Territory and the 36 States of the Federation have complied but for some undisclosed reasons, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court was yet to comply with the directive.

Owing to the increasing wave of indiscriminate arrest and prolonged detention of many citizens and foreigners living in Nigeria, Mr Falana says he is compelled to request Justice Abdu-Kafarati to comply.

According to him, some agencies of the Federal Government authorized to make arrests have continued to detain thousands of persons without trial in various detention facilities in the country.

He says “In particular, scores of people are being detained by the Nigerian armed forces, in detention facilities including underground cells and some of the detainees have been held incommunicado in dehumanizing detention conditions for over three years without trial.

Citing the recent detention of a journalist, Mr Jones Abiri who was recently released from unlawful custody of the State Security Service, on the orders of a Federal High Court, Mr Falana says his law firm has since requested the new management of the State Security Service to release about 294 other detainees who have been detained for about 3 years without trial.

While the DSS has released a number of the detainees from illegal custody, the human rights lawyer said the authorities of the Nigerian Navy have largely ignored his demand for the release of about 150 persons held in naval detention facilities in Lagos, Abuja, Calabar, Warri and Port Harcourt.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria says he is convinced that if Justice Abdu-Kafarati designates Judges of the Federal High Court to visit the detention facilities of the agencies of the Federal Government, the detainees would either have been released or granted bail or recommended for trial without any delay.

Specifically, he wants the designate judges of the Federal High Court to urgently visit the detention facilities of the Nigerian Navy.

He, therefore, stated that if the request is not granted within seven days, he would not hesitate to file a suit at the Federal High Court to compel Justice Abdu-Kafarati to carry out his duty under section 34 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.