Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has said it will be hard to arrest popular Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho, who asked Fulani herdsmen to vacate Igangan, Ibarapa area of Oyo State.
Falana stated this while featuring on a NoRM‘s known Media on Friday morning.
According to him, the failure of the Federal Government to take actions when some Northern Governors repatriated Almajiris back to their home states, shows that the issue of security in Nigeria is being politicized.
He noted that “President Muhammadu Buhari has just said he’s not going to politicize the issue of security. But the security situation in this country is already politicized. We do not have the same standard. That’s why we run into problems. When governors, recently in some states in the North, forcefully removed Almajiris and deported them back to their States of Origin, nobody protested on their behalf.
“If you do not protect the interest of Almajiris, why will you protect the interest of herders in any part of the country? This is why we have to maintain the same standard at all times and operate under the rule of law.”
According to the Senior Advocate, these laws have not been obeyed in the latest appointment of Service Chiefs by the president.
Human Rights Lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), says the nation has continued in its habit of operating under an atmosphere of impunity.
Speaking on the appointment of the new Service Chiefs, Mr. Falana said going on to appoint the new leaders of the Armed Forces without the confirmation by the two chambers of the National Assembly, constitutes a disregard for the rule of law.
Mr. Falana who was a guest on NoRM‘s known Media said the provisions within section 218 of the constitution empower the National Assembly to approve the appointment of the Service Chiefs.
According to the rights lawyer, the new service chiefs have only been nominated by the president and are awaiting confirmation by the legislators.
Falana was of the opinion that the whole essence of a presidential system of government is to ensure that there are checks and balances.
“Section 18 of the Armed Forces Act makes provision for both chambers of the National Assembly to approve the appointments of Service Chiefs.
“These laws were interpreted in the case of Festus Keyamo versus the President of Nigeria and the decision was rendered in 2018 by retired Justice Adamu Bello.
“The government did not appeal that judgment, in that case, the court held that by the combined effect of section 218 of the constitution and section 18 of the Armed Forces Act, the National Assembly shall approve or confirm the appointment of Service Chiefs.”
Repeated calls and appointment of new service chiefs President Buhari on Wednesday accepted the immediate resignation of the former leaders of the armed forces and appointed new officers as replacements.
Major-General Leo Irabor replaced General Abayomi Olonisakin as Chief of Defence Staff; Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao replaced Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo replaced Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas as Chief of Naval Staff; while General Ibrahim Attahiru replaced Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai as Chief of Army Staff.
The replacement of the Service Chiefs came after numerous calls for their sack over the increasing insecurity in the country.
But despite debates over the reason behind the replacement, the Presidency has maintained that it was considered the best decision for the country at the moment.
President Buhari appreciated the outgoing Service Chiefs for what he calls their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to our dear country,” wishing them well in their future endeavours.
Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, has issued Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, seven days to publish the full report of the investigation into the mysterious deaths in Kano State.
There have been controversies in Kano over the mysterious death of over 600 persons in the state.
Falana, in a letter addressed to Ehanire on Sunday asked the federal government to take over the situation of Kano, adding that the state government is overwhelmed.
He expressed concern over the burials conducted in the state without any official information from the government.
The statement reads in part: “During a press briefing held at Abuja a week ago, you announced that the Federal Ministry of Health, the Kano State Chief Epidemiologist, Officials of the Kano Public Health Department and those of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had commenced investigation into the strange deaths and mass burials currently going on in Kano State.
“We are disturbed by the burials which have since continued without any official information on the cause of the strange deaths.
“The people of Kano State and Nigerians, in general, are worried over the worsening health crisis as it may spread to other parts of Kano State not yet affected as well as other parts of the country if not urgently addressed. But since the Kano State Government is completely overwhelmed, we hereby, call on the Federal Government to take over the management of the crisis without any further delay.
He further requested for the certified true copy of the report of the joint investigation by the Federal and Kano State Ministries of Health into the strange deaths in the state.
Falana mentioned that the request was made pursuant to provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, and Ehanire is required to publish the report, “within seven days of the receipt of this letter”.
“The report should include the nature and cause of the deaths, the number of casualties and patients currently undergoing treatment in hospitals as well as an outline of the measures being put in place by the Federal Government to stop the strange deaths involving mass burials.
“If you fail to accede to our request, we shall not hesitate to invoke the relevant provisions of the law to compel official disclosure of the findings of the joint team constituted to investigate the cause of the strange deaths and mass burials in Kano State,” the statement added.
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has written to the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire to seek the help of Cuba as the country has a drug that has so far proven effective in the fight against Coronavirus.
Falana said “We have confirmed that the Cuban drug known as ‘Recombinant Human Interferon Alpha 2B’ developed by Cuba has so far proven to be the most effective weapon against COVID-19.
“Apart from the Chinese Government which has chosen ‘Interfron Alpha 2B’ as one of the drugs for combating COVID-19, the Italian Government has adopted it and secured the services of Cuban doctors along with Chinese experts in combating the dreaded disease.”
According to Falana, the right wing Brazilian Government which had expelled Cuban doctors two years ago on ideological grounds had been compelled to request for the assistance of Cuban medical team amidst conovarious pandemic.
“Similarly, other Latin American, Caribbean and European countries are reported to have requested the Cuban drug and also help from Cuban medical professionals to fight the COVID-19 scourge,” he said.
“In view of the foregoing, we call on you to use your good offices to confirm the efficacy of the Interfron Alpha 2B’ and recommend same for the treatment of COVID 19.
“Having regards to the selfless role of the Cuban medical professionals in eradicating the Ebola virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2017 we call without any further delay. The health of humanity should not be sacrificed on the alter of ideological disputation,” he added.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has adjourned the trial of rights activists, Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare until April 1, 2020.
Ojukwu, who was angry at the way the prosecution was delaying the trial, adjourned the case at the instance of the objection raised by lead defence counsel, Femi Falana, when the first prosecution witness, Rasheed Olawale, was giving evidence out of the summary statement.
Falana urged the court to limit and restrict the witness to the summary of the statement that was made available to them by the prosecution.
He argued that the evidence being given by the witness was mischievous and alien to section 36 of the constitution that guarantees fair hearing.
In his own submission, prosecution counsel, A.A Aliyu, asked the court to dismiss Falana’s objection on the grounds that the evidence given by the witness would not amount to miscarriage of justice as painted by the defence.
The trial judge therefore asked the prosecution to reproduce the witness statement in details to accommodate whatever evidence the witness want to give whenever it was called upon.
The judge said, “Serve them these evidence, I don’t know what is difficult in that. Serve them all the evidence you want to rely on.
“That should not be difficult and that is the provision of the law.”
The Nigerian Government has filed a motion to mask its witnesses in the case against Omoyele Sowore.
Sowore is currently under trial for planning a protest demanding good governance from the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
The trial was adjourned to continue on March 11,12 and 13 after failure of the Department of State Services to give Sowore and his legal team necessary documents to argue their case.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Sowore revealed that the government had filed a motion to mask its witnesses.
He wrote, “UPDATE: Just now the @MBuhari regime filed a motion in court that they want to mask their witnesses in the #RevolutionNow trial scheduled for next week.
“Same prosecutors said they were ready for trial last month with unmasked witnesses!
“This is their latest tactic to seek another adjournment! Funny people!”
Earlier this week, United States-based advocacy organisation, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, said that Sowore was being persecuted by the Nigerian Government for speaking truth to the leadership of the country.
In a recent documentary detailing how the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had infringed upon the right of the journalist for simply criticising its failures, the international rights group condemned the attempt by the Nigerian Government to silence critics and shrink the civic space.
Sowore was arrested in the early hours of August 3, 2019 by operatives of the Department of State Services for calling on Nigerians to take to the streets in peaceful demonstrations on August 5 and was kept in unlawful detention from that period until December 5, 2019 when he was finally released on bail despite two court orders earlier sanctioning his freedom.
In a twist of event, DSS operatives invaded the Federal High Court in Abuja on December 6, 2019 to rearrest him without any court order.
He remained in unlawful detention until 18 days later when he was released by the secret police for the second time.
At the resumption of his trial in a case brought against him by the Nigerian Government, the prosecution failed to prove accusations against him and even went ahead to dropping seven of the charges earlier preferred against him.
The trial resumes on March 12, 2020 in this time government is accusing him of attempting to overthrow Buhari’s administration by calling on citizens to protest against the regime.
Groups and high-raking individuals from around the world have described the charges against Sowore as baseless and a waste of time.
The journalist remains confined to Abuja as one of his bail conditions forbids him from leaving the city or speaking with journalists until the end of his trial.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has accused the Nigerian Government of failing to account for the $4bn recovered from late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
Falana also said that since 1999, the government had recovered about $4bn of public funds stolen by Abacha but that Nigerians were not aware of how the fund was expended by the government.
Falana, who spoke at the Anti-Corruption Situation Room conference organised by Human and Environmental Development Agenda, which focused on reviewing efforts of state and non-state actors in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
Falana said it was lack of accountability by the Nigerian Government that prompted the cautionary insult of a United States Department of State official, who mocked Nigerian leaders, asking them to ensure accountability in the disbursement of the latest over $308m warehoused in the Island of Jersey but recently released to Nigeria.
“About $4bn recovered Abacha loot is yet to be accounted for.
“One young state house official told Buhari government officials that the money must not be stolen.
“It is the most successful recovery of stolen public funds in the world. We have not been able to account for the money,” Falana said, lamenting that a former President said he recovered $2bn in eight years but when he was asked to account for the funds after a court order, he said the “judge was foolish”.
Falana said Nigerians had been battling public officials to make open the assets declared, noting that declaration was from the Latin word declare, which means to ‘declare open’.
He said the Code of Conduct Bureau should be told the secrets surrounding asset declaration in Nigeria is illegal.
An official of Transparency International, Mr Anwal Musa Rafsanjani, said the TI report is not about corruption by the Nigerian Government but rather focuses on perception and the corruption trends in the country.
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), says a court process will be filed this week seeking the removal of the service chiefs based on the expiration of their tenure.
He had argued that it was illegal for the President, Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to extend the tenure of the service chiefs.
When asked why no one had challenged the matter in court if indeed it was illegal, Falana said, “I can assure you that it is already being escalated. To the best of my knowledge, a suit will be filed during the week in respect of this matter.”
Falana recalled that activist, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), who now serves as the Minister of State for Labour and Employment had sued the President Goodluck Jonathan’s government for failing to seek the approval of the Senate before appointing the service chiefs.
He said the Federal High Court had stated while delivering judgement that the National Assembly must approve the appointment of service chiefs before they can be installed.
The activist said it stands to reason that if the Senate approved the appointment of service chiefs, then the Senate’s approval must be sought before their tenure could be extended.
The senior advocate said, “My colleague who is now a minister in this government, secured a judgment that service chiefs must be approved by the Senate and President Jonathan had to seek the approval of the National Assembly in line with the judgment of the court.
“Now, going by that judgement, the President cannot extend the expired tenure of service chiefs without going to the National Assembly. So, when the House of Representatives recently passed a solution that the service chiefs should go, they should have relied on the judgment to say you cannot extend without approval if you cannot appoint without our approval.”
When asked if he implied that Buhari was breaking the law, Falana responded, “for sure.”
Falana said under the Public Service Rules and the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service of Military Officers and under Section 26 of the Armed Forces Act, there was no provision for the extension of tenure beyond the period stipulated by law.
The activist said it was wrong even though it had been done in the past.
“You cannot extend the tenure of certain officers while you ask others to go upon putting in 35 years in office,” he said.
Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has said that the Presidency has no power to stop any peaceful protest by aggrieved Nigerians who are calling for the replacement of the service chiefs.
Mr Falana, while responding to a statement credited to a presidential spokesperson, Mr Garba Shehu, on Sunday, said Nigerians have the fundamental right to demonstrate for or against the Federal Government.
The senior lawyer quoted Mr Shehu: “The Presidency wishes to caution a section of the political class against misleading the public and inciting protests against the heads of military institutions.
“This has become necessary in view of received reports that about 2, 000 men and women have been hired to demonstrate against Nigeria’s service chiefs on Monday.”
He, however, cautioned that the Nigeria Police Force should not harass aggrieved Nigerians for protesting against perceived injustice in the country.
“The authorities of the Nigeria Police Force are urged not to harass aggrieved Nigerians for protesting against perceived injustice in the country.
“Nigerians have the fundamental right to demonstrate for or against the federal government without official fiat the Presidency has no power to stop any peaceful protest in the country.
“In fact, the right to assemble and protest peaceful was won by the Nigerian people in the case of All Nigerian People’s Party v Inspector-General of Police (2008) 12 WRN 65,” he stated.
Mr Falana noted that leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had in 2014, held a protest against insecurity.
“It was in the exercise of the right of freedom of expression that APC leaders including General Mohammadu Buhari, Chief John Oyegun, Dr Sylvester Onu and Mr Rotimi Amaechi had participated in the protest held at Abuja on November 20, 2014, against insecurity under the erstwhile Jonathan administration.”
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.
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.
“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.”
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Department of State Security(DSS) to pay N200,000 as damages to the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore.
The judge said the cost is the consequence of the prosecution’s attempt to delay the trial.
At the court session on Wednesday, Aliyu Halilu, prosecution lawyer, said the charges against the defendants have been amended but that they are yet to be served on them.
Haliyu asked the court to adjourn the case till Thursday for the trial to commence.
Olumide Fusika, Sowore’s counsel, opposed Halilu’s request for an adjournment and asked the court to strike out the case for “lack of diligent prosecution”.
He said even if the adjournment is granted, the trial cannot commence on Thursday because the prosecution is yet to comply with the order of the court which asks it to furnish the defence with statements of the witnesses they intend to call.
Fusika said the prosecution is more interested in subjecting his client to ridicule than trial.
He said Sowore has not seen his family since he was arrested and that if not for “the support of well-wishers, maybe he would be sleeping under a bridge”.
Sowore’s lawyer also said: “This morning, my colleague Marshal approached Mr Halilu to request if there was anything to be served on us and he gave the impression that there was nothing.”
When asked by the judge, a clerk in the court, said indeed Marshal came to him to inquire if the prosecution had filed new processes. He said he directed the counsel back to the prosecution lawyer.
But the prosecution denied the inquiry and asked the judge to reject the submissions of the defendant.
Delivering a ruling, the judge said: “The honourable court views the delay as uncalled for and the application for adjournment as frivolous in view of the reasons for the adjournment sought.”
“Each party is entitled to five adjournments. The prosecution has almost exhausted her five adjournments even before the commencement of trial. There are consequences for every infraction.
“Premised on the provision of section 396(6) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the prosecution has earned the award of cost against them. Prosecution shall pay a cost of N200,000 to the defence as a consequence of frivolous adjournments.”
Sowore and Bakare are standing trial on seven counts of treasonable felony, fraud, cyber-stalking and insulting the president.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has written to Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory, seeking an inquest into the killing of a journalist, Alex Ogbu.
NobleReporters had reported the gruesome killing of Ogbu on January 21 during a demonstration by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in Abuja.
The journalist, who was covering the protest, was shot in the head by armed policemen when they opened fire on the protesters.
Falana’s request was contained in a letter obtained by NobleReporters on Wednesday.
The letter reads, “Since the said Mr Alex Ogbu died in such circumstance as to make an holding of an inquest necessary or desirable, and particularly since the extra-judicial killing was carried out at Berger Area of Abuja, within your jurisdiction and sphere of authority, we request that you employ your good offices to cause an official notification to be issued to the coroner with respect to holding an inquest as to the cause and nature of death of Alex Ogbu.”
Falana noted that the request was predicated on the provisions of the coroners law L.L of Northern Nigerian 1963 CAP 27 as applicable to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
He said that failure by the police to comply with the request within seven days would force him to approach a competent court of law for an order of mandamus.
Police authorities have tried to change the narrative around Ogbu’s death, claiming that he was an accident victim and not killed by policemen.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said the law forbids the Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami from proscribing any group in the country.
“The Attorney General of the Federation, Malami SAN, has no power whatsoever to proscribe any organisation in Nigeria,” the activist and human right lawyer said during an interview on Politics Today, a Channels TV programme.
Falana was reacting to the statement of the Minister of Justice who on Tuesday declared the new Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed Amotekun as illegal.
Falana attributed the statement credited to Malami as diversionary and hypocritical considering the existence of security groups in the northern part of the country, which the minister has not pronounced as illegal .
“In this case, the statement credited to the Attorney General of the Federation is clearly diversionary and hypocritical. Hypocritical in the sense that the governments of Kano and Zamfara states have set up Hisbah Commission. Just recently, the Hisbah operatives in Zamfara State arrested a police officer caught in the midst of three women.”
Falana cited several other instances of paramilitary groups recognised by the government including the recent neighbourhood watch set up by the Lagos State government, adding that the Federal Government had to approach the court before it could proscribe the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).
He said the minister should have advised the government appropriately, stressing that while Malami occupies the position of an attorney general, the concerned states also have their independent attorneys- general.
Falana, however, advised the South West state governors to ask their respective State Houses of Assembly to enact laws to back up the initiative.
He said such law should spell out operational models of Amotekun, the funding strategies as well as areas of partnership with the Nigerian police.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has said that contrary to claims by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Nigerian constitution does not permit children of the president to embark on private trips using a presidential jet.
Falana was reacting to use of one of the jets in the presidential fleet by Buhari’s daughter, Hanan, for a trip to Bauchi State on Thursday.
The young lady, who holds a degree in Photography from Ravensbourne University, London, had flown into Bauchi to photograph a Durbar by Emir of Bauchi, Rilwanu Adamu, that fateful day.
The incident, which has since left many Nigerians especially social media users enraged, has remained a topical issue with some defending and condemning the move.
Adding his voice to the matter on Sunday, Falana said it was not allowed under Nigerian law for the president’s children to fly around in a presidential jet while on private trips.
According to the respected lawyer, Shehu’s defense runs contrary to the dictates of Nigeria’s constitution and therefore cannot stand.
He said, “On October 27, 2016, the Presidency confirmed newspaper reports of the planned sale of two presidential aircraft, a Falcon 7x executive jet and Hawker 4000.
“In a press statement issued by the Presidency through the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Nigerian people were informed that President Buhari had directed that the aircraft in the presidential air fleet be reduced to cut down on waste.
“Shehu reminded Nigerians that President Buhari was elected in 2015 on a commitment to crack down on the country’s systemic corruption, hence downsizing the outlandish presidential fleet had been among his campaign pledges.
“President Buhari’s directive on the use of the presidential fleet which was adopted by the Federal Government was popularly acclaimed by Nigerians.
“However, on January 10, 2020, one of the daughters of President Buhari was reported to have travelled from Abuja to Bauchi in a presidential jet for a private engagement in utter breach of the official policy of the Federal Government.
“Instead of apologising for the breach of the official policy, the Presidency has defended the use of the presidential jet for the private visit of a member of the first family.
“The Presidency is incorrect as it is at variance with the official policy of the Federal Government.
“In other words, the official policy does not authorise the children of the President to use the presidential jets to attend to private social functions.
“In fact, there is no precedent whatsoever for such privatisation of the presidency of Nigeria.
“Using of the aircraft in the presidential fleet by members of the first family to attend to private engagements is not backed by any extant law or official policy.
“In view of the foregoing, we call on President Buhari to stop members of his family from using any of the aircraft in the presidential fleet.”
Nigeria’s rights activist, Femi Falana is backing agitation that President Muhmmadu Buhari, his vice, Yemi Osinbajo and the 36 state governors declare their assets publicly.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), capitalising on the Freedom of Information (FoI), requested Buhari, Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies to publicly declare their assets within seven days or face redress.
The Presidency has claimed that there is no law in Nigeria mandating President Buhari to declare his assets publicly. With due respect, this cannot be the correct position of our law.
According to Falana, in a statement, SERAP’s case for the public announcement of any updates on the assets already declared by Buhari and Osinbajo was correctly based on the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Freedom of Information Act and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which had not only been ratified by Nigeria but also domesticated as part of the domestic laws.
“As far as the law is concerned, the word “declaration” means “a formal statement, proclamation, or announcement, especially embodied in an instrument.” See page 467 of Black’s Laws Dictionary (Ninth Edition). The combined effect of the Constitution, FoI Act and the African Charter is that all public officials ought to voluntarily announce publicly their asset declarations even without prompting from civil society groups like SERAP.
“In the alternative, the Code of Conduct Bureau is bound by law to make them available to members of the public, pursuant to section 1 of the FoI Act. In fact, the law contemplated by the Constitution to make asset declarations of public officials public is the FoI Act. With the FoI Act, there is no longer secrecy in government, including in the asset declarations made by all public officials.
“Section 3 (c) of Paragraph A of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution provides that the Code of Conduct Bureau shall have power to “retain custody of such declarations and make them available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe”. The National Assembly has since 2011 prescribed such terms and conditions in the FoI Act.
“No more excuses by public officials, as the National Assembly has, by passing the FoI Act, prescribed the terms and conditions for pubic officials and the CCB to publicly make asset declarations available. In this instance, SERAP has correctly invoked the provisions of the Constitution, FoI and the African Charter. Similarly, Section 22 of the Constitution has imposed a duty on the mass media to promote public accountability and transparency,” Falana said.
He added that even private citizens could no longer insist on secrecy as they were now required by official policies to register their biometric data for the purpose of acquiring international passports, telephone lines and opening of bank accounts.
Falana stated that the Bank Verification Number commonly called BVN–a biometric identification system implemented by the Buhari administration–has ended secrecy of bank accounts, thereby curbing illegal banking transactions in Nigeria.
“All that SERAP is asking is for the Presidency, governors and their deputies to announce their asset declarations as submitted to the CCB. Such announcement will help to update the records of what the President and Vice President already made public and refresh the memory of the public who are keen to see transparency and accountability in the implementation of the asset declarations frameworks in Nigeria.
“I therefore urge President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo to show strong leadership by immediately acceding to the FoI requests by SERAP and publicly announce any updates on their asset declarations already made public in 2015. This will end the secrecy that continues to surround asset declarations in Nigeria. The secrecy has over the years been used to hide corruptly stolen assets, which has continued to cause untold misery for millions of Nigerians,” he said.
Since the release of Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki from illegal custody on December 24, 2019, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), has put himself under undue pressure.
In the process, he has embarrassed the executive and exposed the judiciary to ridicule.
After announcing that he had directed the State Security Service to release Sowore and Dasuki from custody in compliance with the court orders that had granted them bail, the Justice Minister turned round to say that the release was an act of compassion and mercy on the part of the executive.
I was compelled to challenge the claim of the Justice Minister as he lacks the power to release any person standing trial on compassionate grounds by virtue of section 175 of the constitution.
After he had rightly abandoned that dangerous legal route, Mr Malami has since asserted that Nigerian Government was right to have detained Sowore and Dasuki in defiance of the court orders which had admitted them to bail. In support of the outlandish contention, the Justice Minister said that the government was not bound to obey the court orders until the final determination of the appeals filed against the court orders.
In an interview aired on NTA last Thursday, the Justice Minister said, “There were appeals (sic) for stay of execution all through.
“So, until those matters reach the Supreme Court and the apex court takes the final decision, relating there, you are still operating within the ambit and context of rule of law… So, in respect of those orders, we are not comfortable with as a government, we go back to the court and have them challenged. Until that matter, that your right of challenge, is determined up to the Supreme Court level, the idea of you being charged with disobedience of court order does not arise.”
With respect, the minister’s statement is factually and legally erroneous in every material particular. If the Justice Minister has had time to review Sowore’s case file, which he had withdrawn from the State Security Service, he would have confirmed that no appeal was filed against the two decisions of the Federal High Court, which admitted him and his co-defendant, Mr Olawale Bakare, to bail. Instead of challenging the orders granting bail to Sowore and Bakare at the Court of Appeal, the State Security Service had actually attempted to constitute itself into an appellate court over the Federal High Court by insisting on approving the sureties that had been verified by the trial court.
As defence counsel, we rejected the illegal request to produce the sureties before the Director-General of the State Security Service until Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu gave him a 24-hour ultimatum to release the duo from illegal custody.
It is on record that Dasuki was granted bail at different times by six judges of the Federal High Court and the Federal Capital Territory High Court.
It is pertinent to note that the Nigerian Government did not file an appeal against any of the six court orders. In fact, the first bail application of Dasuki was not opposed by Mohammed Diri Esq., who was the then Director of Public Prosecutions from the chambers of the Attorney-General of the Federation. Hence, Dasuki was admitted to bail in self recognisance on August 30, 2015. Having not opposed the bail application, government could not have filed any appeal against the order of the court.
Apparently frustrated with the contemptuous conduct of the Nigerian Government, Dasuki approached the ECOWAS Court for redress. In a landmark judgment delivered on October 4, 2018, the ECOWAS court indicted Nigeria and awarded N15m damages in favour of Dasuki for his detention in defiance of the orders of Nigerian courts. According to the judges of the court, “It appears that the sole aim of the re-arrest is to circumvent the grant of bail and by keeping the applicant in custody through executive fiat unsupported by any law or order of court.”
On the allegation that Dasuki was facing a serious charge of the criminal diversion of the sum of $2.1bn for purchase of arms, the ECOWAS Court said that, “For the avoidance of doubt, any persons, who have violated the criminal laws of a state especially the ones impeding the development of the state and destruction of its commonwealth are liable to be tried and if found guilty should face the consequences of their action(s). However, in doing so, states must respect all international obligations with regard to due process and respect for fundamental rights of the suspects. Failure to do so will impute responsibility to the state regarding such violations of rights while leaving intact their right to prosecute and punish offences against their criminal laws.”
It is submitted that the Nigerian Government could not have filed an appeal against the judgment because the ECOWAS Court is a judicial tribunal of first and last resort, without any right of appeal.
However, after the judgment of ECOWAS Court, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court had cause to admit Dasuki to another bail but asked each of his two sureties to deposit N100m with the court. The government did not file an appeal against the ruling but Dasuki did as he was completely dissatisfied with the suffocating conditions attached to his bail. The appeal was decided in Dasuki’s favour as the bail conditions were varied in liberal terms by the Court of Appeal. The Nigerian Government never approached the Supreme Court to challenge any aspect of the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
In the same vein, the government did not file any appeal against any of the orders of the high courts, which had admitted Sowore and Dasuki to bail. Consequently, no motion was ever filed for stay of execution of any of the court orders. Since no notice of appeal or motion for stay of execution was ever filed by the government against the orders of bail for Sowore and Dasuki, the Justice Minister ought to tender a public apology for misleading the Nigerian people.
However, if the Justice Minister can produce any notice of appeal or motion for stay of execution in respect of the two cases, I will publicly apologise to him for misleading the Nigerian people.
From the foregoing, it is undoubtedly clear that the two orders of the Federal High Court admitting Sowore to bail were treated with contempt while the eight orders of the Federal High Court, Federal Capital Territory High Court, ECOWAS Court and the Court of Appeal, which admitted Dasuki to bail were ignored by the Nigerian Government based on erroneous legal advice.
A couple of weeks ago, I had reminded the Justice Minister of the fact that as a military dictator, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari had complied with court orders by releasing 13 political detainees from the illegal custody of the notorious National Security Organisation (now State Security Service) based on the legal advice of his Attorney-General, the late Chief Chike Offodile (SAN).
Even under the dreaded Sani Abacha junta, the law was not totally silent. Hence, when I was detained in 1996 under the State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree No 2 of 1984 at the Mawadachi Prison in Jigawa State, the Federal High Court granted an order permitting my wife to visit me. And upon the service of the order on the government, the then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, the late Chief Michael Agbamuche (SAN), advised the prison authority to comply with the court order. At about the same time, Mr Agbamuche equally advised the Abacha junta to comply with the order of the Court of Appeal permitting the wife and personal physician of the Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) to visit him in the Bauchi Prison. It is on record that the Abacha junta complied with both court orders in line with the advice of the Justice Minister.
Therefore, if the court orders issued in favour of the opponents of military dictators were respected under the defunct military regime, it is unacceptable for a democratically elected government, which operates under the rule of law to ignore the orders of municipal and regional courts for the release of political detainees and criminal suspects from illegal custody.
In as much as the eventual release of Sowore and Dasuki is appreciated, it ought to be pointed out that this is a mere tip of the iceberg. If the Nigerian Government has genuinely decided to embrace the rule of law, it has to comply with all valid and subsisting court orders and respect the human rights of the Nigerian people. As a matter of urgency, the Justice Minister should direct the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Correctional Service, State Security Service, armed forces, anti-graft agencies and other law enforcement agencies to either release or prosecute the thousands of criminal suspects including terror suspects that have been incarcerated for months without trial. The detaining authorities should also be prohibited from parading suspects and subjecting them to physical and mental torture in contravention of the provisions of section 2 of the Anti Torture Act, 2017.
Furthermore, the Council of the National Human Rights Commission, which was dissolved in 2015 should be reconstituted by the President on the recommendation of the Justice Minister. In June last year, President Buhari directed the office of the Attorney -General, the Inspector-General of Police and the National Human Rights Commission to carry out the reforms of the Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Police within three months. It is high time the directive was carried out. The Georgewill Judicial commission of Inquiry, which investigated human rights abuses in the armed forces submitted its report in February 2018. The government should issue a white paper on the report forthwith. The Garba Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the military invasion of Zaria in December 2015 recommended the prosecution of the military officers, who massacred 347 Shiites and buried their bodies in a mass grave. The indicted suspects should be charged with culpable homicide at the Kaduna State High Court without any further delay.
Owing to the refusal of the Nigerian Government to act on these reports by prosecuting those, who bear full responsibility for such eggregious human rights infringements, the office of the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has concluded arrangements to open preliminary investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity concerning the extrajudicial killings of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, and Indigenous People of Biafra. It is hoped that the government will not allow Nigeria to be exposed to international opprobrium for her unwillingness and inability to prosecute the indicted murder suspects.
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has written a letter to the Attorney-General of the federation and justice minister, Abubakar Malami, over the detention of Shiites leader, El-Zakzaky and his wife.
Read the full letter below..
Dear Honourable Justice Minister,
Request for compliance with court orders in favour of Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and Hajia Zeinat El-Zakzaky
We are solicitors to Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and Hajia Zeinat El-Zakzaky (hereinafter referred to as “our clients”) on whose behalf we write this letter.
In view of the recent decision of the Federal Government to comply with all court orders, we have the instructions of our clients to request you to ensure compliance with the valid and subsisting orders of the Federal High Court and Kaduna State High Court concerning them which are set out hereunder:
1. On December 2, 2016, the Federal High Court presided over by the Honourable Justice G. O. Kolawole (now of the Court of Appeal) declared illegal and unconstitutional the arrest and detention of Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Hajia Zeinat El-Zakzaky by armed soldiers.
2. Consequently, the court awarded them N50m damages for their illegal detention, ordered the state security service to release them from custody forthwith and provide them with a house since the Nigerian Army had burnt down and demolished their house in Zaria, Kaduna State.
3. Without any legal basis whatsoever the Federal Government refused to comply with the aforesaid court orders. Curiously, the contemptuous acts of the Federal Government were publicly defended by your good self and some other high ranking officials of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. The reasons adduced for non-compliance with the said court orders include the following:
i. On January 3, 2017, the Federal Government filed an appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court for the release of our clients. No motion was filed for stay of execution of any of the orders of the court. However, the motion of the Federal Government for extension of time to file the appellant’s brief out of time was not taken on the grounds that a contemnor could seek any relief from an appellate court.
ii. On January 19, 2017, the Federal Government claimed that Mrs Zeinat El-Zakzaky was not in detention but decided to keep her husband’s company.
iii. On January 20, 2017, sources close to the Presidency were alleged to have said that our clients could not be released on grounds of national security.
iv. On June 16, 2017, the Honourable Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, explained that the reason why our clients had not been released was that the house being built for them by the Federal Government had not been completed.
4. In a desperate bid to stop the Shiites from further embarrassing the Federal Government by demanding compliance with the court orders for the release of their leader, government caused the Kaduna State Government to charge our clients with incitement of members of the Shia movement to commit culpable homicide, blocking of roads and leading an unregistered organisation to wit: Islamic Movement in Nigeria.
5. As you are no doubt aware, the over 300 Shiites alleged to have been procured by our clients to commit the said criminal offences have been discharged by the Magistrate Court and High Court of Kaduna State for want of evidence.
6. However, by an order made on August 5, 2019, the Kaduna State High Court granted our clients leave to travel to India for urgent medical treatment subject to the supervision of the respondent i.e the Kaduna State Government. But instead of allowing the hospital to treat our clients under the supervision of the Kaduna State Government, the Federal Government took over the medical treatment, imposed doctors on our clients and denied them access to their personal physician who had accompanied them from Nigeria. Thus, our clients were deliberately denied access to medical treatment in defiance of the order of the Kaduna State High Court.
7. Since our clients were brought back from India they were kept incommunicado until they were transferred to the Kaduna Correctional Centre last month. In spite of several assurances, authorities of the correctional centre have denied our clients access to any form of medical treatment.
8. Notwithstanding the pending criminal case in the Kaduna State High Court, your office and the Presidency have not ceased to justify the refusal of the Federal Government to comply with the orders of the Federal High Court and the Kaduna State High Court. The statements made by your good self and other officials are set out below:
i. On July 23, 2019, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government refused to obey Justice Gabriel Kolawole’s order on the release of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, because it had appealed the ruling.
ii. On July 26, 2019, during your screening for reappointment as the Attorney-General of the Federation, you told the Senate that the disobedience of court orders by the Buhari administration in respect of El-Zakzaky and others was based on national security.
iii. When the street protests by the Shiites to demand the release of their leader did not stop, the Federal Government announced the proscription of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria on July 27, 2019. The proscription was sequel to an ex parte order secured from the Federal High Court by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
iv. In justifying the decision of the Federal Government to detain Messrs Sowore and Bakare in defiance of the orders of the Federal High Court, the State Security Service issued a statement on November 14, 2019 wherein it claimed that the duo as well as El-Zakzaky and Dasuki were enjoying themselves in custody as “they are allowed access to people and use of other facilities like telephones, gymnasium, TV, newspapers and medical facilities”.
However, following the release of Mr Omoyele Sowore and Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) from illegal custody last week, you were reported to have said that our clients could only be released by the Kaduna State Government. With respect, your position has failed to take cognisance of the fact that your office, the Presidency and the State Security Service had up till last month, repeatedly given contradictory reasons to justify the disobedience of the aforesaid court orders for the release of our clients.
In view of the foregoing, we urge you to use your good office to review your position and ensure the immediate and unconditional compliance with the valid and subsisting orders of the Federal High Court and the Kaduna State High Court concerning our clients. This request is in line with the new policy of the Buhari administration to operate under the rule of law.
While wishing you a challenging legal year, please accept, as usual, the assurance of our highest professional regards.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has said that the release of publisher and convener of Revolution Now protest, Omoyele Sowore, and a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, were done out of compassion.
Malami made this known in a statement released by his spokesperson, Dr Umar Gwandu, while reacting to a statement issued on Sunday December 29th by Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN). Falana had demanded that Malami apologizes to Sowore and Dasuki for allegedly offering wrong advice to the Federal Government which resulted in the prolonged detention of Dasuki for four years and Sowore for over four months despite different court orders granting them bail.
Reacting to Falana’s comment demanding an apology to Dasuki and Sowore, Malami in his statement, said he is disappointed at the Senior Lawyer for making such demands when he knows that the release could only have been granted based on valid reasons which includes compassion.
“First, it is beyond doubt that the Federal Government of Nigeria or any prosecuting authority has been vested with constitutional right of appeal in criminal prosecutions. These rights extend to rulings on bail and right to seek to vary terms of bail, among others. Thus, in any circumstance where this right is waived by the prosecution, it can only be for valid reasons, including compassion, after all connected issues have been duly considered.” the statement read
He accused Falana of trying to garner media hype in condemning the Federal government’s kind gesture of releasing Sowore and Dasuki.
“It is further appalling to note that in a bid to garner media hype in condemnation of a valid governmental action taken in good faith and in the interest of the general public, Mr Falana, SAN, resorted to quoting non-existing sections of the constitution by stating that, Mr Malami (SAN), should have apologised to Col. Dasuki (retd.) and Mr Sowore in accordance with Section 32(6) of the 1999 Constitution…It is unfortunate that a senior member of the bar could resort to concoctions and fabrications of non-existing provisions just to score cheap media publicity.
It is important to highlight that the statement issued by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, which Mr Falana was allegedly responding to, did not howsoever state that the duo of Dasuki and Sowore were released further to the constitutional provisions on Prerogative of Mercy.
A lawyer of Mr Falana’s status should thus desist from stretching arguments beyond reasonable limits in order to score cheap political points. It is a common knowledge that Prerogative of Mercy and compassion simpliciter are two different concepts.” the statement read
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has said Abubakar Malami, minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, does not possess the constitutional power to release anyone on compassionate grounds.
Falana said this while responding to Malami’s claim that Omoyele Sowore, convener of the RevolutionNow movement, and Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser, were released on compassionate grounds.
“The only reasons for the release of Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki revolved around our commitment to the rule of law, obedience to court orders and compassionate grounds,” Malami had said.
In a letter addressed to Malami, Falana said only the president and state governors are entitled to exercise the prerogative of mercy or release any convicted person on compassionate grounds.
“It is trite law that once a trial court has granted bail to any person standing trial for any offence whatsoever and the bail conditions have been met the detaining authority shall release the person from custody without any further ado,” he said.
“In other words, the refusal to release a defendant who has been admitted to bail by a trial judge is tantamount to contempt of court. Hence, before Sowore’s release, we had filed Forms 48 and 49 for the committal of the Director-General of the State Security Service to prison for contempt of court.”
“The government is not permitted to refuse to comply with the order of bail under the pretext of defending the security of the nation. Even under the defunct military dictatorship, detaining authorities were not authorized to incarcerate any person for “security reasons” in defiance of court orders.
“With respect, the federal government has itself to blame for the needless controversy that has trailed the release of the duo. But having belatedly deemed it fit to review your position and advise the federal government in line with the tenets of the rule of law you ought to have apologised to both Sowore and Dasuki.
“That is what is expected of you in accordance with section 32 (6) of the 1999 Constitution. It is not an occasion for grandstanding or an arrogant display of power.”
The Presidency has insisted that the Federal Government’s decision to hold Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and Mr Omoyele Sowore did not go against the laws of the land.
Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser (NSA), spent more than four years in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) while Sowore, the convener of #RevolutionNow protests, was held for almost five months.
Defending the position of the government on the prolonged detention of the duo, a presidential spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, stressed that the government has always obeyed the orders of the court.
He, however, clarified that Dasuki and Sowore remained in detention on the advice of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami
The Presidency has insisted that the Federal Government’s decision to hold Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and Mr Omoyele Sowore did not go against the laws of the land.
Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser (NSA), spent more than four years in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) while Sowore, the convener of #RevolutionNow protests, was held for almost five months.
Defending the position of the government on the prolonged detention of the duo, a presidential spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, stressed that the government has always obeyed the orders of the court.
He, however, clarified that Dasuki and Sowore remained in detention on the advice of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami.
A Right To Appeal
“The Attorney General of the Federation who is the chief law officer, as far as the government is concerned, has convinced everyone and the government inclusive that there is a basis for their continued detention because the individual right must not undermine the collective right,” the President’s media aide told Channels Television on Wednesday in an interview on Politics Today.
He added, “The Attorney General of the Federation has explained the position of the government. If you like call it a new leaf, if you like accept the fact that the government has a renewed determination to show the example of how the court should be treated even when you are feeling aggrieved.
“In this particular case, the government has its own right as to how and why the bail was given, and an intention to appeal.”
“However, the government is saying, ‘let us do this to show respect for the court of the land so that all of this thing about the lack of respect for due process will just give us a chance and leave the table for now,” Shehu stressed.
The convener of #RevolutionNow protests, Mr Omoyele Sowore, celebrates as he departs the DSS office in Abuja on December 24, 2019. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.
Dasuki was arrested in December 2015 over allegations of diverting $2.1billion arms funds while Sowore was charged along with his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, with counts of treasonable felony and money laundering among others.
The defendants have since pleaded not guilty and were granted bail by various courts.
A Sudden U-Turn
Following widespread outrage over the continued detention of the former NSA and the #RevolutionNow protests convener, the AGF ordered the DSS to release the duo on Christmas eve.
But President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman argued that the sudden U-turn by the government has nothing to do with pressure from any individual or group.
According to him, the AGF made it clear over time that there is a major principle of the law which says that the rights of a majority and that of a community under threat override the rights of an individual.
Shehu added that the minister took the case to a conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), adding that it was underscored by a major decision of the Supreme Court.
He stressed that it was a major principle to sacrifice the freedom of an individual for that of a larger community when the need arises, pointing out the case of Dasuki and Sowore.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu speaks about Sowore and Dasuki’s release. (file photo).
The presidential aide, however, said there was a need for those granted bail not to misinterpret their release as an acquittal but abide with the terms upon with the bail was granted.
“The government is not compromising anything but the government wants to set an example of the obedience of the law even when it disagrees with what the court says it should do,” the President’s aide clarified, adding, “The government has a position on the non-release founded in the laws of the country.”
“The Attorney General of the Federation is convinced that their continued detention did not breach the laws of the country; that it is consistent with the laws and the adjudication of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“Our understanding is that he (AGF) believes that the decision to keep them there was strongly founded in the law and so, therefore, it is not something that is extra-judicial,” he said
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has fired back at Presidential Spokesperson Garba Shehu over allegation of spreading fake news with his claim of an agenda to give President Buhari a third term in office.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria in a statement released on Wednesday December 25, said the third term agenda for Buhari kicked off in September.
Femi Falana who alleged that the Buhari administration has intensified its campaign for the emasculation of the opposition and constriction of the democratic space, added that he is being attacked by the Presidency for challenging the support groups and APC leaders that are behind the third term campaign.
The statement reads;
“The third term agenda for President Muhammadu Buhari kicked off on September 21, 2019 under the auspices of “Movement For the Approval Of Buhari Third Term.
“The members of the group who launched the campaign in Abuja were not harassed by the Police or the State Security Service. The Presidency did not deem it fit to disown or dissociate itself from the campaign.
“However, following the popular rejection of the campaign, the Presidency issued a statement on October 2, 2019 to “correct internet-based gossip and un-informed media commentary regarding presidential term limits, given credence by so-called support groups, staging street demonstrations asking President Muhammadu Buhari to do a third term.
“Notwithstanding the official denial of the third term agenda, the Buhari regime has since intensified its campaign for the emasculation of the opposition and constriction of the democratic space.
“This has been manifested in the subversion of the rule of law through disobedience of court orders, sponsoring of anti media bills and reckless arrest, detention and prosecution of the perceived enemies of the federal government. Peaceful meetings and rallies against unpopular policies of the government are violently suppressed while crowds are rented to attack groups and citizens who challenge authoritarian rule in the land.
“The Presidency has decided to attack me for challenging the support groups and APC leaders that are behind the third term campaign. Even though the campaigners are well known to the security agencies they have not being attacked by the Presidency.”