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.
The Senior Advocate was reacting to the Presidency’s stance that the #EndSARS promoters must face the law.
Human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN) has said the Federal Government was being misled into prosecuting the promoters of #EndSARS protests, adding that there was no connection between the youths calling for socio-economic reforms, including an end to police brutality, and the hoodlums that went on the rampage.
Rather, Falana accused the government of failing to provide security for the peaceful #EndSARS protesters, who were exercising their fundamental human rights, as required by law.
He also described the hoodlums that burned and looted as “products of the decadent and neo-liberal economic policy of the Federal Government.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, had said in a Media TV programme, Today, on Sunday night, that those who promoted the protest and allowed it degenerate into chaos must be made to face the full wrath of the law.
According to Shehu: “This country has only one President and has only one constitution.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is responsible for his government. The buck stops at his table.
“We are a country governed by law. There is a constitution that states clearly, under Section 33, that clearly defines the rights of citizens to freely protest in a peaceful way.
“But where a peaceful protest turns into riot, violence and looting, there is a law and order duty to be performed.”
However, Falana pooh-poohed the Presidency’s claims, noting that “During the #EndSARS protests, the Federal Government conceded the fundamental right of Nigerian youths to protest peacefully.
‘’The protests were generally peaceful. Unfortunately, the police did not provide security for the protesters as required by the law. Hence, hoodlums took over the protests.
“By the way, the hoodlums are products of the decadent and neo-liberal economic policy of the Federal Government. There is no nexus between the #EndSARS protesters and the hoodlums.
“It is unfortunate that the government is being misled as usual. They should go ahead and charge the #EndSARS protesters in a criminal court if there is any scintilla of evidence indicting them.
“We have travelled through this dangerous route before to the detriment of national development,” Femi Falana added.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has described the N5m fine on Lagos-based radio station, Nigeria Info 99.3 FM by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as illegal.
The Human Rights Lawyer said this in a statement he personally signed and wondered why the NBC will be in a hurry to penalise the radio station.
While noting that the State Security Service (SSS) has not concluded an investigation into the radio station’s guest, Dr Mailafia Obadiah, Falana asked why the Commission was in a hurry to violate the broadcast firm’s fundamental right.
According to him, it is only a competent court of law that has the right to impose fines on a criminal suspect after conducting a trial.
“Only a competent court of law is empowered to try, convict and impose a fine on a criminal suspect after a trial has been conducted before a competent court.
“In view of the fact that the imposition of the N5 million fine was anchored on a purported amendment of the Code and since the NBC lacks the legal competence to impose a fine on any broadcasting station without a finding of guilt by a properly constituted criminal court the NBC should suo mutu quash the illegal fine,” Falana said.
The senior lawyer added that: “Section 33 (4) of the Constitution provides that anyone charged with a criminal offence shall be tried before a competent court or tribunal.”
He noted that in the case between the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited at the Federal High Court, Honourable Justice Ojukwu held that the imposition of fines by regulatory agencies was unlawful.
The NBC had said the fine was imposed on the media outfit due to its unprofessional broadcast.
It explained that Nigeria Info was not professional in the handling of its morning show aired between 8.30 am and 9.00 am on Monday.
NBC stated that the station provided its platform for its guest and a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Mailafia Obadiah, to promote “unverifiable and inciting views,” saying such could lead to public disorder.
Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Femi Falana has called on the National Assembly to probe the conditions of Nigeria’s foreign loans totalling about $79.5bn.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday, Falana wondered why much emphasis should just be on the $3.1billion to be secured from China.
According to him, the masses are being misled by leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and those of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“We are being misled. What is the basis of this cessation about Chinese loan which is only $3.1billion out of $79billion loan?
“Why are we not talking about the remaining $76billion whose conditionality is much worse than the Chinese loans we are talking about?
“So, why don’t you look at the entire loan portfolio? Look at the conditions. For instance, some of the western loans are to the effect that the government should increase electricity tariff, increase fuel price and so on and so forth,” he said.
Falana also knocked the federal lawmakers for “not complaining about those multiple taxations dictated by western imperialism.”
While admitting that every country has the right to enter into an agreement with issues relating to loans, the senior lawyer maintained that the National Assembly is required by law to look at the terms and conditions.
In doing this, Falana asked the Ministry of Justice to always scrutinise the terms and conditions of the agreements to the benefits of all Nigerians.
The killings in Kaduna has the potential of leading to a round of national crisis that may threaten the fabric of democracy in the country, the Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, (ASCAB) warned on Sunday.
The coalition of labour and over 80 civil society groups also blamed the Federal Government for the mayhem adding that the central authority has the constitutional responsibility to ensure the protection of lives and properties everywhere in the country.
It said the mayhem in Kaduna only reflects the community version of the growing culture of brigandage within the political class.
Last Friday scores of people were killed in Southern Kaduna by armed groups. Katsina, Zamfara and many States on North Central have seen a string of bloodletting in recent months.
On Sunday, the killings in Southern Kaduna continued. At 6am Fanstwam natives of Zipkak, a semi-urban town in Fanstwam Chiefdom, Jemaa LGA in Southern Kaduna, fled their homes when armed groups invaded their communities again.
The killings did not abate inspite of curfew impose in the area by the State Government to curb revenge killings among the multi-ethnic Southern Kaduna territories.
The latest incidence took place in Zikpak, some two kilometres away from Kafanchan where a large consignment of soldiers is camped.
ASCAB in a statement signed by its Chairman, Mr Femi Falana, (SAN) on Sunday said it is undoubtedly clear that the Federal Government has shown a lack of capacity to deal with the sad events.
Falana said the Federal Government appears to be running out of ideas in bringing an end to violence and armed brigandage constantly recorded in Kaduna and other affected states.
It said the violence in the North East has spread to the North Central and the North West warning that if unchecked, it might threaten peace and coexistence across the country and set the nation on the path of ruin
“Corruption, politics of exclusion, growing unemployment, and lack of creativity continue to fuel public resentment across the country backed by an increasing breakdown of public trust in those holding public officers. The situation has been compounded by weak institutions and inept leadership both at the state and national levels” ASCAB said.
It said the lack of opportunities, poverty, and the imposition of tough economic measures on Nigerians are partly responsible for prejudices, hate, and expression of violence found in many communities in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is fast becoming a state of blood where human lives no longer matter. It is unfortunate that while the Federal Government invests billions of naira in the procurement of arms to fight violence, it has failed to develop an appropriate economic roadmap to deal with one of the root causes of violence which is poverty.”
It also warned that unending violence and banditry will help the spread of coronavirus thereby putting the lives of many people in the North in danger.
“Violence and killings have seen the emergence of several refugee camps and the flee of health workers in vulnerable communities. Territories ravaged by killings will naturally disregard the rules necessary for the prevention of COVID-19. This only means that as long as instability continues, the prospect of livelihood and effective public health protection is dim.”
It said it is public knowledge that many states in the country including Katsina where President Mohammadu Buhari comes from are at the mercy of terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, and criminal gangs.
It said that though the Federal Government continuously assures Nigerians of the safety of lives and property, the guarantee has become a mirage in the face of ceaseless attacks.
The group said the country has continued to witness massacres of defenseless citizens and that the number of arms in the hands of non-state actors is alarming.
“Several survivors are currently in IDPs. These include children and women. These children are denied education and the basic necessities of life necessary for their growth in the first years of their lives.”
ASCAB said many Nigerians are fleeing to the neighbouring African States due to the fact that their homeland has failed to procure peace for them.
It condemned the statement credited to the Federal Government that “From available security records, the problem in Southern Kaduna is an evil combination of politically-motivated banditry, revenge killings and mutual violence by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds”. It described such statements by the FG as an indication that those in power are not in touch with the people.
Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has revealed that he rejected an offer asking his client Omoyele Sowore to apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari, in a bid to get released from custody, when the Sahara Reporters publisher was detained in 2019.
Mr Falana in a statement on Thursday stated that he rejected the offer as presented by a government delegation comprising the late Isa Funtua and two others.
According to his statement titled, “On the collapse of secret meetings designed to compromise Omoyele Sowore in custody”, Falana did not only reject the offer, but he also rebuffed a rather ‘condescending’ statement by the late Isa Funtua, who was of the opinion that the regime in power could not be defeated.
“In fact, when the late Alhaji Isa Funtua said rather condescendingly at the Lagos meeting that the regime in power could not be defeated I was quick to remind him that the Nigerian people had defeated military dictators to pave way for the current civilian dispensation,” the rights activist stated.
Falana further revealed that he also rejected the delegation’s request to have Sowore, who was in detention, to write an undertaking to desist from further embarrassing the Federal Government.
Below is the full statement as published by Mr Femin Falana.
ON THE COLLAPSE OF SECRET MEETINGS DESIGNED TO COMPROMISE OMOYELE SOWORE IN CUSTODY
In a deliberate attempt to distort the proceedings of the secret meetings held by representatives of media publishers and officials of the presidency with Mr. Omoyele Sowore in the dungeon of the State Security Service last year Mr. Garba Shehu has continued to give the highly erroneous impression that the deal struck with the captive was frustrated by his lawyer.
Since Mr. Shehu’s memory failed him in his jejune narrative he said that “The meeting ended well, and contrary to the posturing by Sowore, he said he was happy with a resolution proposed but that his lawyer, whoever that was, needed to come on board.
The fence-mending process collapsed after the meeting of the trio with the lawyer in Lagos.” Mr. Shehu ought to have published the terms of the “resolution” which he claimed that Mr. Sowore had accepted instead of of blaming the collapse of the “fence-mending process” on the intransigence of his lawyer “whoever that was (sic)”
I confirm that I held a meeting with the trio referred to by Mr. Shehu even though he did not mention my name.
Hence, I am compelled to react to a couple of issues raised in his incendiary account. More so that he did not attend the Lagos meeting. For reasons best known to Mr. Shehu he refused to inform the Nigerian people that I rejected the gratuitous request to prevail on Mr. Sowore to apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari and write an undertaking to desist from further embarrassing the federal government.
Apart from insisting that my client had committed no offence by exercising his freedom of expression over the perilous state of the nation I expressed my personal agony over the request because I won the legal battle wherein the Court of Appeal had upheld the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to protest against the government without police permit.
Mr. Shehu ought to have equally disclosed that I demanded for the unconditional release of my client from the unlawful incarceration of the State Security Service.
In particular, I recalled the case of Isa Funtua v The President wherein the plaintiff had challenged the obnoxious newspaper registration decree enacted by the Ibrahim Babangida junta in 1993. For goodness sake, is Mr. Shehu not aware of the fact that Mr. Sowore was charged with treasonable felony, money laundering and insulting President Buhari for daring to call off the bluff of the federal government?
It is interesting to note I had teamed up with other patriots in 2006 to campaign for the restoration of the liberty of Mr. Garba Shehu (who was then the spokesman for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar) when he was detained by the State Security Service and charged before the Federal High Court with the offence of “obtaining, reproducing and keeping classified material” in contravention of the Official Secrets Act.
Happily, the charge filed against Mr. Shehu by the forces of incipient fascism in the country was withdrawn and struck out in his favour. In like manner, the charge of a treasonable felony which is hanging menacingly on the head of Mr. Omoyele Sowore like a sword of Damocles will also be struck out in his favour in the fullness of time.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has claimed Isa Funtua, an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, boasted that the current “regime” cannot be defeated.
Falana also revealed he rejected a request for him to apologize to Buhari, when Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, was in detention.
He disclosed this in a statement released on Thursday.
Sowore was detained in August 2019 ahead of #RevolutionNow, a nationwide protest against the government.
A delegation led by the late Funtua, reportedly visited Sowore while he was in detention, to “negotiate conditions” for his release.
After Funtua died on Monday, Sowore posted a video on Twitter, where he described Funtua as an “arrogant man” who asked him to “abandon the struggle” in exchange for his release.
However, presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, who was part of the delegation, accused Sowore of “attacking a dead soul”.
In reaction, Falana who is Sowore’s lawyer has accused Shehu of attempting to twist what happened during the meetings.
“I confirm that I held a meeting with the trio referred to by Mr. Shehu even though he did not mention my name. Hence, I am compelled to react to a couple of issues raised in his incendiary account. More so that he did not attend the Lagos meeting. For reasons best known to Mr. Shehu, he refused to inform the Nigerian people that I rejected the gratuitous request to prevail on Mr. Sowore to apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari and write an undertaking to desist from further embarrassing the federal government,” part of the statement read.
He added: “Mr. Shehu ought to have equally disclosed that I demanded for the unconditional release of my client from the unlawful incarceration of the State Security Service. In fact, when the late Alhaji Isa Funtua said rather condescendingly at the Lagos meeting that the regime in power could not be defeated, I was quick to remind him that the Nigerian people had defeated military dictators to pave way for the current civilian dispensation.”
Femi Falana, SAN, has denied receiving N28 million from Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
A Presidential Investigation Committee revealed that assets recovered by the EFCC from May 2015 to 2020 shows that Falana received N28 million.
It reads: “The link to Magu was also established by the payment of N28 million to Falana who is a close associate and ally of the Acting Chairman,’’ it revealed.
Falana has now demanded a retraction of the claim by issuing a statement through lawyer Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN).
“My client acknowledges that just as his anti-corruption activism have won him friends, they have also bred enmity from those who see things from a different perspective and have therefore always tried to paint and present him (or anyone that strives or claims to be different) as someone that is also not free from the stains of corruption! Not long ago, these elements invented and spread through the media the lie that my client was a beneficiary of a property purchased from the EFCC. When given the opportunity to prove the allegation, the publisher failed to take up the opportunity but apologized for the false publication. I am not too sure that your case will turn out different if you permit it to degenerate to the level of being sued.
“In the circumstance, my immediate instruction is to demand that you acknowledge your wrongdoing, expressly admit that what you imputed against my client was false, and apologize for your unprofessionalism and the damage you have caused to him.
“I do hope that you will, within the next 48 hours, comply with this gentlemanly request by publication on the front page of your newspaper. Failing compliance, my instruction is to issue a Writ in the tort of defamation in other to afford you an opportunity to prove what you imputed against my client’s character.”
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has said that embattled Ibrahim Magu could get his job back as the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), if he is not found guilty of allegations against him.
Magu has been suspended from the position and the agency’s Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar, was on Wednesday appointed to replace him.
Human Rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, says the probe on the embattled acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, is a question mark on the anti-graft agency.
He disclosed this on Wednesday during an interview.
“Even though Mr Ibrahim Magu is presumed innocent of all the allegations levelled against him, it is an anti-climax for an anti-corruption zar to be linked to a miasmal of corrupt practices.
“No doubt the fate that has befallen Magu so far, for me it is indeed a moral disaster on the anti-corruption crusade. Therefore, the ongoing investigation should be a wake-up call on the Federal Government to embark on a comprehensive cleaning exercise. Otherwise, the investigation will be a selective exercise in futility.
“The Federal Government owes the public duty, particularly that institution if it is confirmed that Mr Magu has been asked to step aside. There has to be a follow-up of the law establishing the agency, the top-most officer in the agency should be asked to act for him,” he said.
Speaking further, the legal practitioner said the Federal Government should not make the mistake of appointing who he described as an outsider to head the EFCC in acting capacity should Magu be suspended or found guilty of the allegations.
According to him, this is to ensure that the name of such nomination will easily be sent to the National Assembly for confirmation.
Falana, however, called on the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel to carry out a thorough investigation into the allegations of corrupt practices levelled against the EFCC boss.
Magu has been in the eye of the storm following the invitation extended to him by the Department of State Services (DSS) on Monday.
Although the spokesman of the EFCC boss, Tony Amokeodo, told Channels Television that his principal was quizzed to appear before a panel of the Federal Government set up to investigate the allegations of corruption levelled against him, the secret service insisted that it did not arrest Magu.
DSS Spokesman, Peter Afunanya, said the service has no connection with Magu’s reported arrest.
A Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has asked the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to produce the indicted soldiers involved in the brutal murder of three policemen over suspected kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu in court for trial.
Falana made this call on Sunday via a statement he personally issued.
The legal practitioner noted that the military’s court-martial lacks the competence to try the soldiers for terrorism offences committed against police personnel or other members of the public.
He argued that the terrorism offence allegedly carried out by the soldiers were not provided for in the Armed Forces Act.
“With respect, the offence of terrorism allegedly committed by the indicted soldiers are not provided for in the Armed Forces Act.
“To that extent, a general court-martial or special court-martial lacks the jurisdictional competence to try the offence of terrorism committed against police personnel and other members of the public by soldiers who are subject to service law.
For the avoidance of doubt, Section 32 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended by the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2013 provides that “The Federal High Court located in any part of Nigeria, regardless of the location where the offence is committed, shall have jurisdiction to (a) try offences under this Act or any other related enactment; (b) hear and determine proceedings arising under this Act,” the statement partly read.
SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE
A COURT-MARTIAL LACKS THE COMPETENCE TO TRY OFFENCES OF TERRORISM
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN was reported to have said that the soldiers indicted in the brutal murder of 3 policemen who arrested a suspected kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu (alias Wadume) could be tried by a court-martial. According to the Minister, “They are military personnel. First, they are to go through the in-house processes. There are two options – either to charge them before the court-martial which is a special court established by law for the trial of soldiers or in the alternative for the military after consummation of the in-house processes should consider handing them over for trial.”
With respect, the offence of terrorism allegedly committed by the indicted soldiers are not provided for in the Armed Forces Act. To that extent, a general court-martial or special court-martial lacks the jurisdictional competence to try the offence of terrorism committed against police personnel and other members of the public by soldiers who are subject to service law. For the avoidance of doubt, Section 32 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended by the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2013 provides that “The Federal High Court located in any part of Nigeria, regardless of the location where the offence is committed, shall have jurisdiction to (a) try offences under this Act or any other related enactment; (b) hear and determine proceedings arising under this Act”.
Hence, the indicted soldiers were properly charged with terrorism along with other suspects in the only competent court in the land. However, since the military authorities did not release the suspects to the Police for the purpose of arraigning them in court the learned trial judge, the Honourable Justice Binta Nyako rightly ordered the Chief of Army Staff to produce them to answer to the heinous charge of terrorism and allied offences. Even though the Attorney- General withdrew the charges against the indicted soldiers the order that they be produced in court for arraignment has not been vacated or quashed either by the trial court or the Court of Appeal. Therefore, the Attorney-General is duty-bound by to ensure full and unconditional compliance with the valid and subsisting order of the federal high court in accordance with section 287 (3) of the Constitution.
A prominent human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on Monday faulted the National Health Emergency Bill being legislated on in the Senate, including the Infectious Diseases Control Bill in the House of Representatives.
Falana was of the view that the bill is going to fail after being passed into law. He added that if the lawmakers proceeds with the legislation, the bill will be challenged in the court of law for nullification.
Falana on a special programme: ‘A Citizen’s Town Hall’ on Channels Television on Monday, reiterated that the bill is unnecessary; warning members of the National Assembly to seek advice from legal experts before enacting the bills into laws for ascension of the President.
Falana had declared: “My views on the bill are that the bill is unnecessary, it is unwarranted; it is superfluous and unconstitutional.
“Therefore, it should not be passed because it is going to fail. If it is passed, it is going to be challenged.
“I will like to suggest that the members of the National Assembly should seek sound legal advice so that we do not waste precious resources and energies on a law that is bound to fail; that is likely to be declared null and void.”
The sponsor of the bill ion the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, representing Enugu North Senatorial District, had also on Monday on Channels Television insisted that there is no going back on the controversial bill in the Senate. He insisted that there is no better time to enact the law than now.
Human Rights Activist, Femi Falana (SAN) has asked the Federal Government to withdraw the army from enforcing the lockdown order placed on the Federal Capital Territory; Lagos and Ogun States.
He said deploying armed troops is illegal and unconstitutional based on precedent judgements of the courts of the land.
He said, “In the March 29, 2020, national broadcast of President Muhammadu Buhari and the COVID-19 Quarantine Regulations issued thereafter to curtail the spread of coronavirus pandemic the members of the armed forces were not authorised to enforce the Regulations.
“But out of sheer impunity, the Defence Headquarters announced the plans of the armed forces to implement the presidential order on the restriction of the movement of the Nigerian people.
“In my reaction to the illegal plan of the Defence Headquarters to involve armed troops in the enforcement of the Regulations, I issued a public statement wherein I said that while the nation’s armed forces should be commended for making their medical facilities available to members of the public in the fight against the highly dangerous virus, the plan to dispatch armed soldiers to the streets to enforce the COVID-19 guidelines should be shelved because it is illegal.
“For the umpteenth time, I am compelled to draw the attention of the military authorities to the case of Yussuf v Obasanjo (2005) 18 NWLR (Pt ) where Salami JCA (as he then was) held that ‘It is up to the police to protect our nascent democracy and not the military, otherwise the democracy might be wittingly or unwittingly militarized.’ This is not what the citizenry bargained for in wrestling power from the military in 1999.
“Conscious steps should be taken to civilianise the polity and thereby ensure the survival of and sustenance of democracy.”
Falana said his position was also backed by the judgement in the case of All Progressive Congress v Peoples Democratic Party (2015) LPELR 24349 where Aboki JCA held that the President lacked the power to call on the Armed Forces to restore law and order in any part of the federation without the approval of the National Assembly as provided in sections 217(2) and 218(4) of the Constitution as amended.
He reminded the Federal Government of its legal obligation “to confine the Military to their demanding assignments especially in these trying times of insurgencies and encroachment into the country’s territories…
“However, in utter violation of the aforesaid injunctions of the Court of Appeal, the platoons of armed troops deployed by the military authorities have unleashed mayhem on innocent members of the public for allegedly breaching the COVID-19 Regulations.”
Falana regretted that the involvement of the armed troops in the enforcement had led to torture and brutalisation of innocent citizens as revealed in several video clips trending online.
He accused the military authorities of not conducting a thorough investigation but rather dismissing the video clip.
“Whereas based on a similar video clip which recently exposed a group of policemen who had engaged in the brutalisation of some traders in Lagos under the pretext of enforcing the COVID-19 Regulations the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu ensured that the culprits were promptly identified and arrested for the purpose of prosecuting them.
“The civilised conduct of the Police Chief has demonstrated the readiness of the current police leadership to put a stop to the involvement of police personnel in the crude infringement of the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to dignity.
“In the light of the foregoing, we respectfully call on President Buhari and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to restrain members of the armed forces from further enforcing the COVID 19 Regulations.
“Furthermore, we urge the President to order an investigation into the video clips of the brutalisation of members of the public by some overzealous soldiers and direct the appropriate authorities to bring them to justice for contravening the provisions of the Anti Torture Act, 2017,” he said.
A former lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani, has arrived the Federal High Court, Abuja, in solidarity with rights activist and journalist, Omoyele Sowore, who is standing trial for treason.
Sani walked into the courtroom shortly after the commencement of proceedings for the day.
During the trial in February, Sani together with Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka and Prof Chidi Odinkalu all made appearances to support Sowore.