No Legislative House Has The Power To Suspend A Member – Femi Falana

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, has stated that no legislative House has the power to suspend a member even for a single day.

He made the comment while addressing the Senate’s recent suspension of one of its members, Senator Ali Ndume, for allegedly bringing the House to disrepute, as well as the investigation and summoning of some of its members.

The Senate spokesman was quoted to have said that although the 1999 constitution does not exactly state that the Senate has the power to suspend a member, they have the power to do so based on the internal House rules.

In reaction to this, the senior lawyer stated that: “The Senate labours under the very erroneous impression that it can do anything, whether allowed by law or not; particularly when it purports to exercising its oversight functions.

“Allegations of crime, certificate forgery, allegations regarding under-payment of Customs duties, are criminal offences that can only be investigated by the appropriate authorities such as the Police.”

According to him, “Section 88, which the Senate always relies on, begins with the phrase: “subject to the provisions of this constitution”, which means the powers of the Police, the powers of the Auditor General of the Federation, the powers of the Attorney General of the Federation, the powers of the President, take presidence over the powers of the Senate to carry out an investigation.

“The Senate with profound respect, the House of Representatives with Profound respect, cannot investigate allegations of crime. That is within the constitutional province of the Police.

“In matters regarding some of the distinguished Senators, the court has made definitive judicial pronouncements. Take for instance, no legislative House in Nigeria, can suspend a member for one single day and we have a plethora of authorities on this,” he stressed.

Recalling a similar situation that occurred in 2010, Mr Falana said: “As a member of the House of Representatives, Senator Dino Melaye and 10 others, out of frustration, submitted a petition to the EFCC, alleging criminal diversion of funds by the Dimeji Bnakole-led leadership of the House.”

According to him, the Senators had claimed that the House had been terrorized and scandalized and despite the advice given by lawyers to allow the law take its course, as a petition had been sent to the appropriate agency of government, they still refused to take their hands off the case.

“Dino Melaye and 10 others were suspended indefinitely. I went to court for them and the court said: “Under your own rules, you cannot suspend a member for more than 14 days – Under what law did you suspend these 11 members of the House of Representatives for an indefinitely period of time?”

Mr Falana said subsequently, the court ordered an immediate reversal as well as the reinstatement of the senators.

He gave another instance involving the indefinite suspension of a member of the Bauchi House in 2012.

According to him, she was the only female and Christian in the House, consisting of 31 members and her suspension came as a result of a contribution she made, which the men considered as an ‘infra dignitatem’.

The case was however raised in court after a letter written to the House was ignored and the law was properly examined by the High court as well as the court of Appeal.

“Relevant constitutional provisions were now determined by the Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal ruled that no legislative House has the power to suspend a member even for a single day,” he stated.


Source: Channels TV

“Put an end to the impunity in NASS”, Femi Falana tells President Buhari.

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has called on the executive arm of government to terminate the “rein of impunity” in the national assembly.

Falana said this in a statement on Wednesday, while reacting to the controversies that have trailed the senate of late.

He said the upper legislative chamber’s refusal to consider the appointment of 27 resident electoral commissioners (RECs) because of President Muhammadu Buhari’s reluctance to sack Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was an act of impunity.

The senate had rejected the appointment of Magu as EFCC chairman, citing a Department of State Services (DSS) report as the reason for its decision.

“Pursuant to the powers conferred on it under section 3 (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004 the senate has refused to confirm the appointment of Mr Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the (EFCC),” he said.

“However, President Buhari has decided to allow Mr Magu to continue to head the EFCC in an acting capacity. The decision of the president cannot be faulted by virtue of section 171 (1) (d) of the constitution which provides that the president is vested with the power to appoint the head of any extra ministerial department to hold office in an acting capacity. Such appointment does not require the confirmation of the senate.

“Completely aggrieved by the decision of the president to exercise his constitutional powers in the circumstance the senate has decided not to confirm the 27 newly appointed resident electoral commissioners until Mr Magu has been removed from office.

“In asking for the removal of Mr Magu the senate said that the anti-graft czar has been terrorising the senate. Should the senate resort to such cheap blackmail because the embattled EFCC helmsman has refused to compromise the  prosecution and investigation of about 15 senators alleged to have been involved in serious economic and financial crimes? Why should the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki not be terrorised for the criminal diversion of N3.5 billion from the London/Paris Club loan refund?

“Before now, sharp disagreements between the national assembly and the executive had been submitted to the courts for judicial resolution in line with the rule of law… In view of the settled state of the law on summoning of critics by the national assembly and suspension of legislators the senate is advised to reverse its illegal decisions and quickly return to the path of constitutionalism in the interest of lasting democracy in the country.

“However, if the senate remains intransigent the executive branch of the government should adopt decisive measures to terminate the unending rein of impunity in the national assembly.”

Falana also criticised the senate for summoning Itse Sagay, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), for allegedly making critical remarks about it.

He said the senate had no power to summon Sagay.

“In the atmosphere of impunity which has enveloped the senate the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council on Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay has been ordered to appear before the senate for having the temerity to criticise the senators,” he said.

“In the case of El Rufai v House of Representatives (2003) 46 WRN 12 the court of appeal held that the respondent lacked the power to summon the appellant over a defamatory statement made by him as the power of investigation conferred on legislators is not for personal aggrandisement.”

The rights lawyer also said the senate’s suspension of Ali Ndume’s was illegal.

The senate suspended Ndume, a senator from Borno state, for allegedly bringing the chamber to disrepute.

“The purported suspension of Senator Ali Ndume is the height of the serial illegality in the senate. In Hon Dino Melaye & Ors  v House of Representatives (unreported) the federal high court declared the indefinite suspension of the plaintiffs illegal and unconstitutional on the ground that a legislator could not be suspended for more than 14 days,” Falana said.

“But in House of Assembly v Hon Danna the Court of Appeal held that a legislative house in Nigeria is not competent to suspend a member even for a single day as it is a violation of the democratic rights of members of his/her constituency.”


Source: The Cable

Why is senate leadership always associated with forgery, fraud? – Femi Falana

Human rights lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has wondered why the leadership of the Nigerian senate is always associated with claims of fraud and forgery.

Falana on Wednesday said there were many open-ended questions regarding the sport utility vehicle (SUV) of senate president, Bukola Saraki, which was seized by the customs over forged documents.

Although Saraki’s spokesperson had said the issue was between the vehicle’s supplier and the customs, Falana said it may have motivated the senate’s insistence that Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of customs, wears uniform before addressing the red chamber.

“The statement credited to the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki is not a denial of the criminal allegation but an attempt to pull wool over the eyes of Nigerians,” said Falana.

“Even If we accept the explanation it means that the Senate leadership bought a vehicle that was imported to the country with forged documents.

“That has confirmed that the planned humiliation of the customs boss was borne out of vengeance. So it is no longer a case of individual liability but that of institutional criminal negligence.

“These guys have to invent more lies because the limousine was not budgeted for by the National Assembly.

“Or is it another case of padding of the budget? Why is the leadership always associated with forgery and fraud? Did the senate leader not distance himself from the controversial vehicle? So why did the leader of the senate allow the matter to be investigated by the ethics committee of the upper chamber if he was planning to wash off his hands like Pontius Pilate?” he asked.

Falana added that, “Since there are many unanswered questions, the Nigeria Customs Service should go ahead and get to the root of the criminality with a view to prosecuting the culprits”.

Tokunboh Akindele, the car dealer whom the senate contracted to supply the bullet-proof SUV, on Wednesday said Saraki was not involved in the transaction.

Akindele also said he did not know the customs documents issued to him were forged.


Source: The Cable

Illegal directive on wearing of uniform by customs boss – By Femi Falana

The timely reaction of the senate to the policy of the Nigeria Customs Service to compel all vehicle owners to pay appropriate duties has once again questioned the extent of the oversight powers of the national assembly.

In contributing to the interesting debate I shall examine the legal validity of the policy, the legal competence of the senate to summon the comptroller-general of customs to justify the policy and the legality of the directive that he should appear before the senate in uniform.

Illegal policy of Nigeria Customs Service on payment of appropriate duties.

We are aware that the Nigeria Customs Service has announced the suspension of the implementation of the policy to compel all vehicle owners in Nigeria to pay appropriate customs duties from March 13-April 12, 2017. Notwithstanding the suspension we deem it fit to point out that the policy is illegal as the Nigeria Customs Service is completely estopped from collecting additional duties from vehicle owners who had paid the duties charged at the time of importation. Under the doctrine of estoppel by conduct the Nigeria Customs Service cannot be permitted to deny the payment of what was charged and collected as appropriate duties from vehicle owners several years ago.

In Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji v Board of Customs (1982) 3 NCLR 552, the armed agents of the defendant invaded and raided markets in Lagos and seized contraband goods. In the process, some of the traders were brutalized. They sued the defendant for damages in the Lagos high court. Apart from condemning the violations of the traders to dignity the Lagos high court cautioned that “Those in authority in customs and excise matters ought to intensify methods for apprehending offenders at the point of entry of goods into the country as it becomes more difficult to do so afterwards.” In Margaret Stitch v Attorney-General of the Federation (1986) 2 NSSC 1389 the Supreme Court held that the appellant was only liable to pay the customs duty based upon the rate of duty payable when she imported her used Mercedes Benz car. It was the view of the apex court that it was unjust and retrospectively punitive to impose an additional financial liability of about N13,000 on the appellant.

In view of the settled position of the law on the matter what is required on the part of the management of the Nigeria Customs Service is not a suspension of the illegal policy but its outright annulment without any further delay. Of course, the authorities of the Nigeria Customs Service cannot be precluded from arresting and prosecuting highly placed individuals who usually forge importation documents in order to evade the payment of the appropriate duties to the coffers of the federal government.

Incompetence of the senate to summon CGC on policy matters

Under the pretext of exercising its oversight powers last week the senate summoned the CGC to appear before it to justify the policy on payment of appropriate duties from March 13-April 2017. Since he did not appear in uniform the senate decided to adjourn its debate on the matter to enable him to comply with the directive. In spite of the importance attached to the trifle and diversionary directive on uniform it is submitted that the senate lacks the vires to summon the CGC on policy matters. Indeed the oversight power of either house of the national assembly is not at large but limited by section 88 (2) of the constitution to enable it to “make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws and expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriate by it”.

Since the decision of the senate has nothing to do with making laws or exposing corruption, inefficiency or waste in the disbursement of funds appropriated by it the summoning of the CGC constitutes a blatant violation of the constitution. No doubt, the policy was designed to generate revenue for the federal government. To that extent the senate may be accused of shielding criminal elements who have engaged in the evasion of the payment of customs duties. If the senate had wanted to protect the interests of vehicle owners including themselves they ought to have entered into dialogue with the minister of finance. There is no legal or moral basis for the arrogance of power being displayed by the senate whose leadership has recently being linked with the illegal importation of a bullet proof limousine with fake papers to evade the payment of appropriate customs duties.

In El-rufai v House of Representatives (2003) 46 W.R.N 70 the court of appeal placed heavy reliance on the case of senate of the National Assembly v Tony Momoh where it was held that “no power exists under the section for general investigation not for personal aggrandizement of the house”. So the appellants were not entitled to have invited the respondent in the first instance. In the instant case, the senate is not conducting an investigation but challenging the policy of the Nigeria Customs Service on payment of duties. With respect., the summons served on the CGC is illegal and unconstitutional as it cannot be justified under section 88(2) of the constitution.

Illegal directive on wearing of uniform by CGC

However, the senate engaged in another illegality when it exceeded its powers by asking the CGC to appear before it in customs uniform. Neither the constitution not the rules of procedure of the senate has conferred on it the power to compel the CGC to wear customs union when he is not a serving customs office. Indeed, the directive is a reckless usurpation of the powers of the board which is the only competent body to decide on the wearing of uniform by customs officer.

In many countries including South Africa customs officers do not wear uniforms. It is on record that the first 4 heads of the customs department in Nigeria never wore uniforms.

Under the defunct military junta, officials of the security agencies wore uniforms as they claimed that they were either military or paramilitary forces. With respect to the customs service, its officers are required to wear uniforms in accordance with section 8 of the customs excise and preventive service regulations which provides that “clothing and equipment shall be of such pattern and worn in such manner as the board shall determine.” The suit challenging the legal validity of Col Hameed Ali’s appointment has been dismissed on the ground that the President has the power to appoint a non-customs officer to head the customs service. Since a competent court has held that he is not a customs officer, Ali cannot be made to wear any uniform by the senate.

If I am said to be wrong I challenge the senate to refer to any law that supports the wearing of uniform by the head of the customs service who is not a serving customs officer. The EFCC has been headed by 3 serving police officers and a retired police officer but the senate never mandated any of them to wear uniform whenever they appeared before it. Even the embattled acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu who appeared for confirmation in the senate last week was not directed to wear his uniform even though he is a serving police officer.

I should not be understood as saying that the senate deserves to be treated with disdain. All I am saying is that the senate should have appreciated the limit of its powers under the constitution. Thus, instead of playing into the hands of the CGC by invoking the provision of section 88 of the constitution, the senate could have summoned the minister of finance to justify the policy of the Nigeria Customs Service, a parastatal under her supervision. That would have been in consonance with section 67 (2) of the constitution which has imposed a duty on every minister to attend either house of the national assembly to explain “the conduct of his Ministry, and in particular when the affairs of the Ministry are under discussion.”

Finally, the Nigeria Customs Service should be directed by the minister of finance to cancel the illegal policy on payment of appropriate excise duties. If the federal government remains recalcitrant on the matter we shall not hesitate to challenge the policy at the federal high court. However, if the federal government is seriously committed to end the importation of vehicles into Nigeria via neighboring countries it should direct the Nigeria Customs Service to reduce the prohibitive duties charged on imported vehicles.

Falana demands release of Gbadamosi, asks Malami to ‘restrain’ DSS

Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria, says that the Department of State Security Service (DSS), has violated the human rights of Babatunde Gbadamosi by detaining him for over a week.

A statement signed by Falana said that the chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party was detained by the DSS after he honoured the agency’s invitation in Lagos on Wednesday, February 22.

He called on Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, to restrain the DSS and other law-enforcement agencies from infringing on human rights of Nigerians.

“Babatunde Olalere Gbadamosi, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party was invited to the Lagos office of the State Security Service on Wednesday last week. As a law abiding citizen he honoured the invitation,” he said.

“Although he was not accused of committing any criminal offence or security breach he was arrested and taken to Abuja for interrogation. Since then, he has been denied access to his family and lawyers by the SSS. By holding him incommunicado the SSS has violated the fundamental rights of the detainee to personal liberty and fair hearing.

“Having regard to the facts and circumstances of his arrest, I am compelled to demand for his immediate and unconditional release from the unlawful custody of the SS. In the alternative, the SSS should charge him to court forthwith if there is evidence that he has committed any criminal offence known to law.”

The lawyer said that even during the military government, arrests and detention of citizens were justified.

“Even under the defunct military junta the arrest and detention of political detainees and economic saboteurs were justified by the military dictators under preventive detention decrees. Notwithstsnding that the obnoxious decrees have been repealed the SSS has continued to breach the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people in utter breach of the relevant provisions of the Constitution which have guaranteed them.

“Once again, I urge the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, to restrain the SSS and other law enforcement agencies from infringing on the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people.

“In particular, the attention of police, anti graft and security agencies ought to be drawn to the combined effect of section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and section 6 of the administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 which have prohibited the arrest and detention of any person in Nigeria without due process.”


Source: The Cable

Femi Falana hails new Gambian CJ Jallow

Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has lauded the newly-appointed Chief Justice of The Gambia, Justice Hassan Bubacarr Jallow.

Justice Jallow was sworn in by President Adama Barrow in Banjul on February 15.

Falana recalled that Justice Jallow, who is the second Gambian to serve as Chief Justice was the Minister of Justice and Attorney General until the Yayah Jameh coup ousted the Jawara government in 1994.

He described Jallow’s appointment as “a plus to the judiciary in West Africa.”

Falana said, “He had also served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of The Gambia before his appointment as a United Nations prosecutor in Rwanda. Justice Jallow is the current chair of the Africa Group on Justice and Accountability.

“The appointment of Hassan Jallow as Chief Justice has been hailed as a plus for the judiciary in West Africa. Jallow’s appointment and the decision of the government to return to the International Criminal Court have confirmed the determination of the Adama Barrow administration to end official impunity and restore the rule of law and judicial independence in The Gambia.

“Even though the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights is located in Banjul the human rights record of The Gambia was the worst in West Africa under President Jammeh.

“Over the years the courts in The Gambia became completely compromised. As victims of gross abuse of human rights lost total confidence in the local courts they were compelled to seek relief in the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States.

“Although the victims won their cases the government refused to comply with the judgments of the court.”

He expressed confidence in Jallow’s ability to rebuild The Gambian judiciary.

Falana said, “No doubt, the task of rebuilding the judiciary in The Gambia after 22 years of authoritarian rule is daunting.

“But having worked closely with Justice Hassan Jallow in the Africa Group on Justice and Accountability, I have no doubt that he has the capacity to serve his country with commitment and distinction.

“His Lordship will certainly enjoy the cooperation of The Gambian Bar Association which has been in the forefront in the defence of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary.”

Nigerians Need To Know Buhari’s Health Status – Falana

A senior lawyer and rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, has advised the Presidency to do more in telling Nigerians about President Buhari’s health status as it did in 2016.

Mr Falana said on Channels TV’s Sunday Politics that Nigerians need to know the state of the President’s health.

Although he admitted that the law does not mandate the President to disclose his health status, he argued that citizens should not be left speculating about their president’s condition.

“Under the Freedom of Information Act, the right to health is supposed to be shrouded in secrecy but I am saying now that henceforth, this situation calls for a review of the law so that we won’t be left guessing next time.

“We are talking of the President. Many state governors go in and out of the country, some for a month or two, some for three months without anybody asking any question and without any handover to their deputies.

“But I am saying that with what we are going through now, we must come to appreciate that if you are going into public office, you have no secrecy,” he said.

He said that since the Presidency started on a good note by informing the nation of the treatment of an ear infection last time, more information this time around would remove speculations and erase any form of rumour.

“It is our duty and right and the President took cognizance of that last year when he disclosed to Nigerians what he was going abroad for. This year should not be an exception.

“This is what has given room to a lot of rumours and speculation which are totally uncalled for,” he said.


Source: Channels TV

Femi Falana: US, Switzerland don’t want to return Abacha loot to #Nigeria

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the governments of the United States and Switzerland are frustrating the return of the looted funds stashed in their countries by late Sani Abacha, a former military ruler.

Falana said this in a piece entitled ‘The immoral and illegal frustration of the repatriation of the remaining Abacha loot by the governments of United States and Switzerland’.

“Apart from describing Nigeria as ‘fantastically corrupt’, Mr. David Cameron did not accede to the request of President Buhari to recover and repatriate the looted wealth of Nigeria, which has been located in the United Kingdom,” Falana said.

“In spite of several assurances, the United States Government has continued to frustrate the legal proceedings filed by Nigeria in Jersey, United Kingdom, for the recovery and repatriation of the remaining Abacha loot.

“On its own part the Swiss Government has imposed a conditionality before repatriating the sum of $321 million in its custody to Nigeria.?”

According to the former president of the West African Bar Association (WABA), court processes initiated by the Nigerian government in US courts have been objected to by the American government.

“The Federal Republic of Nigeria had adopted various routes and strategies to freeze, recover and repatriate to Nigeria the proceeds of corruption amassed by a former military ruler, the late General Sani Abacha and his associates.

“In particular, legal proceedings have been filed in many courts, including a criminal complaint in Switzerland and requests for mutual legal assistance to various European nations. Others include claims in England (both in the Commercial Court and the Chancery Division) directly against inter alias Mohammed Sani Abacha (“Abacha”) and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (“Bagudu”), together with companies associated with them, including Doraville Property Corporation (“Doraville”).

“I understand that it is suggested by the USA that the FRN is estopped from bringing proceedings against Doraville in Jersey to recover the proceeds of the fraud, because the FRN made the MLA Request, and because the FRN assisted in facilitating the service of the US proceedings upon Mohammed Sani Abacha and Bagudu.

“I do not understand this suggestion. As I have indicated above, the whole point of the MLA Request was to secure the recovery of monies for the FRN. It appears that the USA now however does not intend to abide by the spirit of the request, and instead intends itself to apply any monies recovered by it as it alone sees fit. In the absence of a common understanding between the FRN and the USA as to what should happen to the monies recovered in the Doraville proceedings, no estoppel can exist.

“The FRN is bringing proceedings in Jersey against Doraville to establish the FRN’s status as the party which has been defrauded of these monies, and therefore the party with a paramount proprietary interest in them.  There is nothing artificial or underhand about these proceedings.  What the FRN is seeking to achieve is establish as clearly as possible its own interest in these monies. It is the frivolous objection of the USA which has prevented the Court from ordering the repatriation of the fund to Nigeria.”

Falana urged President Barack Obama to ensure that the frivolous objections filed in the recovery proceedings in the High Court in Jersey by the US are withdrawn before the end of his term of office on January 20, 2017.

He also implored the the Government of Switzerland to repatriate the sum of $321 million of the Abacha loot to Nigeria without any further delay.

The senate is yet to take a decision on Magu, says Femi Falana.

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the upper chamber of the national assembly is yet to take a decision on the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a statement issued late Thursday, Falana said the decision of the executive session of the senate to reject Magu cannot be binding on the red chamber.

He said the action of the lawmakers who antagonised the anti-graft czar is a proof that forces of corruption have decided to rubbish the anti-graft war of the current administration.

“My attention has been drawn to the refusal of the senate to conduct confirmation hearing in respect of the nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,” he said.

“Since Mr. Magu was not allowed to justify his appointment before the plenary of the senate it is misleading to say that his nomination has been rejected by the senate.

“Section 2 (3) of the EFCC Act 2004 provides that “The chairman and members of the commission other than ex officious members shall be appointed by the president subject to the confirmation of the senate.

“Since it was the executive session of the senate that took the decision not to confirm Mr. Magu the senate has not taken a decision on the matter. In the entire history of the senate, an executive session or committee of the senate has never been allowed to usurp the statutory power of the senate with respect to the confirmation of nominees of the President of the Republic.

“The announcement credited to the Bukola Saraki-led senate is that Mr. Magu’s confirmation could not be considered based on a security report. The purported security report was not presented on the floor of the senate. To that extent the refusal of the executive session of the senate to circulate the report and allow the senate to take a decision is an insult on the integrity of the entire senate.

“Since the said report was prepared by the management of the State Security Service, it is crystal clear that the refusal of the senate to consider the nomination of Mr. Magu is a confirmation that the forces of corruption have decided to rubbish the anti corruption crusade of the Muhammadu Buhari administration. The President owes the nation a duty to flush out all the well known corrupt elements in the government and their cronies without any further delay.”

Stop begging those who stole Nigeria’s money, fight them – Femi Falana

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has called on the federal government to adopt an “aggressive policy” to recover looted funds instead of asking for loans.

Falana said this on the sidelines of an event organised by the US embassy in Abuja to mark the international anti-corruption day.

“People have stolen our money, why are you begging them to return it? We need to fight them and collect the money; we do not need loans that will mortgage the future of our country,” he said.

“The government is asking for a loan of $29.6 billion and we have more than that to recover.”

He called on the US government to intervene, and also urged anti-graft agencies to enhance cooperation to ensure the recovery of such funds.

He said that the federal government’s current plan to recover stolen loot of past administrations would not get the country out of its economic crisis.

“For instance, $458 million has been forfeited in the US; Nigeria has filed an application before the high court in Jersey where the money was traced to,” he said.

“But the US government has filed an objection to the release of the money to the government of Nigeria, claiming the money should be paid to the US government to be managed for Nigeria.

“We also have some money to collect from the Swiss government; the Swiss government is illegally saying that they are not going to release this money unless the World Bank is ready to supervise the management of the fund.

“Unfortunately, the government (Nigeria) is not challenging such violations of our sovereign rights as a nation.

“Unless the federal government is prepared to adopt an aggressive policy against western governments and their very corrupt financial institutions, we are not going to come out of this mess.”

Falana said the federal government’s request for loans would be detrimental to the future of the country. He also called on Nigerian media to join the campaign for the return of the country’s looted wealth.

“The Financial Times Magazine of the UK wrote an editorial asking the UK government to release not less than one billion pounds instead of giving us aid; the Nigerian media should join the campaign.”

I Never Said “Buhari Is Worse Than Jonathan” – Femi Falana

I was privileged to have delivered the 2016 Convocation Lecture of Oduduwa University at Ipetumodu, Osun State on November 18, 2016. In the said lecture I had cause to advise the Muhammadu Buhari administration not to further plunge the nation into debt by taking a fresh loan of $29.6 billion. In opposing the proposed loan I urged the federal government to muster the political will to recover the several billions of dollars withheld from the Federation Account or criminally diverted by the parasitic ruling class that has mismanaged the economy of  Nigeria since 1999. My views on the proposed loan were well reported by credible print and electronic media.


However, out of sheer mischief and cheap blackmail, some dubious fellows twisted my views and reported that “Falana says Buhari is worse than Jonathan”.  Since the image launderers of the ancien regime have a short memory, I am compelled to advise them to google “Falana asks the national assembly to reject Jonathan’s request for  $7.9 bn”. In my letter of November 10,  2012, I had urged the national assembly members to advise President Jonathan to jettison the loan option and recover ” the billions of dollars which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and some oil companies have refused to remit to the Federation Account”. But the national assembly approved the request for the loan.


A  year later,  I  pleaded again with the federal legislators to reject the request for another loan of $1 bn for procurement of arms and ammunition for counter-insurgency operations. On that occasion, i asked the legislators to demand an account of the over N3 trillion appropriated for the nation’s defence from 2010-2013. Once again, the loan request was approved by the national assembly.   In the course of defending 58 out of the 70 soldiers who were charged with mutiny for legitimately demanding for weapons to fight the well-equipped Boko Haram terrorists, I confirmed that the $1 billion loan had been diverted. In fact, one of the reasons why the trial was held in camera was that our defence was anchored on the criminal diversion of the huge fund.


In a bid to justify the looting of the defense fund the young men were convicted and sentenced to death.  In justifying the fraudulent death sentences passed on the soldiers, Marshal Alex Barde (rtd), the then Chief of Defence Staff, said that the boys deserved to die for having the temerity to demand weapons when they could have fought the terrorists with their bare hands! My plea for a presidential pardon for the convicted soldiers was ignored by President Jonathan. Even though President Buhari has granted our prayer and has since commuted the death sentences to 10 years imprisonment, I believe that the convicts ought to be granted unconditional pardon and freed from further incarceration in prison custody. More so, that the Presidential Panel on Arms Procurement has confirmed that the $15 billion earmarked for the procurement of arms and ammunition from 2007-2015 was diverted and cornered by a coterie of military officers. Some of the suspects are currently facing trial for fraud, money laundering and other allied offences.


Having strenuously opposed the recolonisation of the country through questionable loans with unfavourable conditionalities  procured by successive regimes I could not have said that President Buhari is worse than Jonathan who presided over a rogue regime. Convinced that there are alternative economic policies I shall remain as constant as the northern star in opposing the mortgaging of the future of the nation. Therefore, let those who are desperately looking for credibility to justify the call for a  return to  the era of official prodigality count me out of their ill-fated agenda.

Dasuki’s Detention Unjustifiable – Femi Falana

Activist lawyer, Femi Falana, on Sunday said the continued detention of former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) without a court order could not be justified under the constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right, stressing that Dasuki ought to enjoy bail granted him by several courts.

Falana in a statement explained that the recent order by the Economic Community of West African State, ECOWAS Court was to allow the former NSA enjoy his “liberty within the context of the bail granted him by the trial courts.”

The statement reads, “With respect to the substantive relief, the ECOWAS Court held that the detention of Col. Dasuki without a court order could not be justified under the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

“Consequently, the court ordered the release of the applicant and payment of N15m damages to him as reparation for the infringement of his human rights.

“In reporting the judgment of the ECOWAS Court the media conveyed the impression that the federal government has been ordered to release the plaintiff unconditionally from further detention.

“Contrary to such misleading impression the ECOWAS Court has not discharged and acquitted Col. Dasuki in respect of the criminal charges pending against him in the Nigerian courts.

“All that the court said was that the suspect be allowed to enjoy his human right to liberty within the context of the bail granted him by the trial courts. In particular, the federal government was berated for treating the orders of its own courts with contempt.”

Dasuki is currently standing trial for misappropriating over $2.1 billion meant for the procurement of arms for the Military fighting Boko Haram insurgents in the north east.

The former NSA who was granted bail in December by Justice Adeniyi Ademola had dragged the Department of State Services, DSS, to ECOWAS Court over his continued detention.

ECOWAS court on October 4, had ordered the Federal Government to pay N15m as compensation to Dasuki, over his “unlawful arrest and detention.”


$2.1bn Arms Scandal: Dasuki’s detention unjustifiable – Femi Falana

Activist lawyer, Femi Falana, on Sunday said the continued detention of former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) without a court order could not be justified under the constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right, stressing that Dasuki ought to enjoy bail granted him by several courts.


Falana in a statement explained that the recent order by the Economic Community of West African State, ECOWAS Court was to allow the former NSA enjoy his “liberty within the context of the bail granted him by the trial courts.”


The statement reads, “With respect to the substantive relief, the ECOWAS Court held that the detention of Col. Dasuki without a court order could not be justified under the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.


“Consequently, the court ordered the release of the applicant and payment of N15m damages to him as reparation for the infringement of his human rights.


“In reporting the judgment of the ECOWAS Court the media conveyed the impression that that the federal government has been ordered to release the plaintiff unconditionally from further detention.


“Contrary to such misleading impression the ECOWAS Court has not discharged and acquitted Col. Dasuki in respect of the criminal charges pending against him in the Nigerian courts.


“All that the court said was that the suspect be allowed to enjoy his human right to liberty within the context of the bail granted him by the trial courts. In particular, the federal government was berated for treating the orders of its own courts with contempt.”


Dasuki is currently standing trial for misappropriating over $2.1 billion meant for the procurement of arms for the Military fighting Boko Haram insurgents in the north east.


The former NSA who was granted bail in December by Justice Adeniyi Ademola had dragged the Department of State Services, DSS, to ECOWAS Court over his continued detention.


ECOWAS court on October 4, had ordered the Federal Government to pay N15m as compensation to Dasuki, over his “unlawful arrest and detention.”

Senate’s Rejection of $30 Billion Loan Should Challenge Buhari — Falana

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has challenged the Nigerian government to take the rejection of the $30 billon (N9.61 trillion) loan request by the Senate as a challenge to review the recovery of the nation’s looted wealth.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Falana said the decision of the Senate to turn down the borrowing plan should spur investigation into the criminal diversion of billions of dollars from the Federation Account.

The Senate on Tuesday rejected Mr. Buhari’s request to borrow $29.9 billion as part of its external borrowing plan for 2016 to 2018, asking for all relevant documents to be submitted.

“A few months ago, I had urged the Minister of Finance to embark on an aggressive recovery policy,” said Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

“Apart from acknowledging the letter and assuring me that the letter was receiving attention no measure has been put in place to recover the looted wealth of the nation.
“In frustration I was compelled to submit a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to recover the fund and prosecute the indicted individuals and corporate organisations.”

Mr. Falana said his petition led to a former Central Bank governor demanding an apology for saying that he gave out a loan of $7 billion to 14 banks sometime in 2006.

“Since he admitted that the money was a ‘deposit’ and not a loan I rejected his demand for apology,” he said.

“More so that the $7 billion and the bailout of $4 billion given to the same banks in 2008 have not been refunded.

“Curiously, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria has not demanded the repayment of the said sum of $11 billion from the banks.”
The Senate’s rejection came despite the support of Nigeria’s Debt Management Office for an approval of the loan to help address the huge infrastructure deficit across the country.

But Mr. Falana insisted that if efforts were intensified to recover the billions of dollars looted or diverted from the Federation Account, the government would not need to plunge the nation into “another toxic debt”.

“I have also just confirmed that one of telecommunication companies operating in the country recently engaged in money laundering and successfully but illegally transferred the sum of over $25 billion out of Nigeria,” Mr. Falana said.

“Since the Money Laundering Act, 2011, as amended, requires that the entire proceeds of the crime be forfeited to the Federal Government, it is hoped that the highly placed public individuals involved in the criminal enterprise will not compromise the interests of the nation this time around.”


Ondo guber: Falana, Keyamo support INEC on PDP candidate.

The decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise Modu Sheriff-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the upcoming Ondo State gubernatorial election, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, is right, frontline lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has said.

INEC last Thursday endorsed Ibrahim’s candidature after an Abuja High Court declared him as the authentic PDP candidate.

The electoral umpire had earlier recognised the candidate of Markafi-led faction of the party, Eyitayo Jegede.

“INEC has merely obeyed a court order,” he Falana said. “INEC has obeyed an order of a court pursuant to a valid and subsisting judgement. You want INEC to disregard the judgement?”

He said it was wrong of the Markafi-led PDP to seek a restraining order from another court of equal status.

He said, “Once there’s an order, you can only go and set aside the existing one. You can’t go and start another one. That’s what causes conflicting court order.

“You can’t go and initiate a process that will set one court in collision with another. It’s primitive.

It’s not done in any civilised society.

“If there’s a judgement against you, you go to that same court to set it aside. You don’t go and file a fresh action in another court, and thereby set the courts on collision course, which may result to conflicting court orders.”

He said since the Markafi faction had appealed the judgement, it should have waited for the outcome of the party.

“There’s an appeal against the judgement of Abuja court. No other person can go to another court, a lower court, to set aside the judgement of a court of coordinate jurisdiction. It’s not done.

“And I don’t blame the judges, like the judge in Akure, because nothing happened to those who gave conflicting orders in the PDP leadership crisis the other day. That’s why this mess is continuing.”

He urged Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State to discourage his supporters from engaging in protests because he was he became a governor after a court pronouncement.

He added, “You can’t take any step that will subvert the rule of law. What do they expect INEC to do? To disregard the order of a court because of sentiment and rely on expataint order? No responsible organisation does that.”

Festus Keyamo also supported the position of Falana on INEC’s choice, insisting the election umpire followed the law.

“There are conflicting orders.” He said. “There’s no amount of emotion or protests that can change that. It’s a purely legal matter.

“It doesn’t matter the presence of a political group. There are two conflicting orders. INEC is in complete order to effect any of the orders until the Supreme Court decides.”

Femi Falana (SAN) blasts the NBA for shielding corrupt judges

Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), on Sunday, criticised the Nigerian Bar Association for shielding corrupt judges despite having information about their activities.

He described the failure of NBA to deal with corrupt officials in the judiciary as an embarrassment to the “incorruptible members of the bar,” adding that it was responsible for the current state of the country’s judiciary.

He said this while reacting to the raid on the homes of some judges and the arrest of four of them by the Department of State Services between Friday and Saturday. The operatives of the DSS had raided the official quarters of judges at Abuja, Gombe, Kano and Port Harcourt and ended up arresting at least four judicial officers.

The arrested judicial officers comprised two Justices of the Supreme Court – Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and John Okoro – as well as Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court and another judge of the Gombe State High Court, Justice Mu’azu Pindiga.

In a statement issued at the end of the raid, the DSS alleged that the suspects had engaged in judicial misconduct and corrupt practices, adding that a huge amount of money was recovered from three of the judges.

In response to the raid, the NBA had declared a state of emergency and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the judges.

Falana, however, criticised the NBA, saying, “In particular, the Nigerian Bar Association which has information on all corrupt judges and lawyers in the country has continued to shield them to the embarrassment of incorruptible members of the bar and the bench.

“The few lawyers who have plucked up the courage to expose corrupt judges and lawyers have been stigmatised and treated like lepers by their colleagues.

“It is on record that when both the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission sent invitation letters to judges suspected of corruption they had rushed to the Federal High Court to obtain interlocutory injunctions to prevent their arrest, investigation, and prosecution.”

He said members of the legal profession had themselves to blame for the harassment of judges by security forces as they had failed to take advantage of the relevant statutory disciplinary bodies to purge the bar and the bench of corrupt elements.

“It is on account of negligence on the part of the legal profession that the SSS which screens candidates before they are recommended by the National Judicial Council for appointment as judges has now engaged in the arrest of judges for alleged corruption and abuse of office,” he said.

Falana, however, said because the detained judges “are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved by the State, they should be admitted to bail in self-recognizance.”

He urged the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to ensure that the judges were immediately arraigned without delay.

He lamented the state of the legal profession, saying, “It is a matter of grave concern that the legal profession has allowed the denigration of the hallowed temple of justice because of the misconduct of a few corrupt judges.

“For several years, judges who committed grave criminal offences were not prosecuted but merely retired by the authorities on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.

“Although the National Judicial Council recently recommended the dismissal and prosecution of a judge for extorting the sum of N197m from a litigant the authorities had paid lip service to the menace of judicial corruption in the country.”

Nigerian Lawmakers’ Immunity Proposal Satanic– Femi Falana

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has criticized a proposed life pension and immunity from prosecution for Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, and other presiding officers of the National Assembly.

In a statement Sunday, Mr. Falana described the proposal as insensitive, irrational, and immoral.

“Indeed, it is the height of insensitivity for legislators to propose life pension for their leaders at a time that workers are owed arrears of salaries in many states of the federation,” said Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

The lawmakers, at the end of a two-day retreat on constitution review on Saturday, took the decision to shield its presiding officers, as well as those of state Houses of Assemblies, from prosecution.

They argued that since the other two arms of government – executive and judiciary – are enjoying immunity, the third arm ought to follow suit.

Mr. Saraki is currently facing prosecution for forgery and false and anticipatory assets declaration, while Ike Ekweremadu, his deputy, is being tried for forgery.

The proposal came amidst allegations of sexual misconduct against three Nigerian lawmakers by the United States government during the lawmakers’ visit to Cleveland for the International Visitor Leadership Programme.

Mohammed Gololo (APC, Bauchi) was accused of grabbing a hotel maid and soliciting sex, while Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa-Ibom) and Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) allegedly requested a car park attendant to help them secure the services of prostitutes.

Mr. Falana said the lawmakers’ proposal to shield their presiding officers from prosecution is “provocative.”

“No serious nation can grant immunity to legislators who have been linked with criminal diversion of public funds, forgery and rape,” he said.

“We can assure the concerned members of the public that the satanic proposals of the legislators will not succeed.

“It is pertinent to inform the legislators that the members of the human rights community have resolved to mobilize the Nigerian people to reject both proposals.”

Credit: PremiumTimes

$6b Arms Gate: Suspects’ Rights Not Violated —Falana

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, has said that the rights of suspects arrested in connection with the $6 billion arms scandal have not been violated, insisting they must face trial for crime against humanity.


He made this assertion in a statement he issued on Sunday, 6 December.
According to Falana, “last week, some of the principal suspects implicated in the probe of the $2.1 billion and N643 billion arms gate were nabbed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Pursuant to the ex-parte orders validly issued by the courts the suspects have since been detained for the purpose of investigation.
“But in a desperate move designed to divert the attention of the Nigerian people and the international community from the grave allegations of reckless and criminal diversion of the public funds earmarked for arms procurement to prosecute the war on terror, some reactionary politicians have accused the Buhari administration of engaging in impunity for detaining the suspects beyond 48 hours without trial. In challenging the detention of the suspects by the EFCC a senior lawyer (Mike Ozekhome SAN) was alleged to have said that ‘a magistrate court has no power to issue a holding charge warrant’.
“With respect, the detention of the suspects is in strict compliance with the rule of law. The attention of the “critics” ought to be drawn to sections 293-299 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 (ACJA) which stipulate that a suspect arrested for an offence which a magistrate has no jurisdiction to try, shall within a reasonable time, be brought before a magistrate court for remand. The order which shall be for a period not exceeding 14 days may be further extended provided that if the investigation is not concluded within 28 days the court may summon the appropriate authority to show cause why the suspect should not be unconditionally released.”
Falana also stated that “Suspects who are remanded in custody are at liberty to ask for bail or apply to the appropriate high court to secure the enforcement of their fundamental right to personal liberty. In view of the clear and unambiguous provisions of the law it is misleading to insist that a magistrate court lacks the power to grant the application filed by the EFCC for the detention of the criminal suspects.
“As corruption is already mobilizing to fight back, the Buhari administration should ignore the reckless campaign of calumny of certain people who have lost their sense of shame. As far as they are concerned the suspects should be left alone to enjoy their loot while soldiers are losing their precious lives due to lack of adequate weapons.”
He called on the federal government to ensure that all individuals and corporate bodies indicted in the criminal diversion of public funds are made to face the full wrath of the law.
“The anti-graft agencies should disregard the cheap blackmail, speed up the investigation and charge all indicted suspects to court while the courts are enjoined to conduct the trial of the suspects under the ACJA which requires that the trials be conducted day by day. The federal government should open a dedicated account to warehouse the recovered loot with a view to using the fund to provide equipment for the armed forces, create jobs for our army of unemployed graduates and fix our dilapidated public schools, hospitals and roads,” Falana said.
According to him, “it is pertinent to correct the error in respect of the extent of the amount of money involved in the arms gate. The well publicized $2.1 billion is the foreign component of the loot. The actual amount stolen is $2.1 billion and N643 billion. The total missing fund is $6 billion.
“In the light of the earth-shaking and ear-aching revelations oozing out of the EFCC to the effect that a handful of individuals cornered and shared the huge fund earmarked for the procurement of military hardware to prosecute the war on terror all the military officers and soldiers who have been convicted including the 70 who were sentenced to death should be released forthwith.
“As I have repeatedly maintained, the soldiers were committed and sentenced to death for asking for weapons to fight the terrorists. They were ordered to fight with unserviceable equipment on the ground that there was no money to purchase new weapons. In the process, the well-equipped insurgents routed and massacred thousands of the country’s ill-equipped soldiers due to the diversion of the fund set aside to purchase equipment.
“The suspects must bear full responsibility for committing such grave crimes against humanity. Consequently, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 we have applied for a certified true copy of the report of the arms procurement panel with a view to ensuring that some of the suspects are prosecuted by the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.”
Former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki was arrested in connection with the scandal and he has implicated a lot of people, including media mogul and AIT/Raypower FM Radio founder, Raymond Dokpesi.

Constitution Amendment: Falana Wants Stakeholders Meeting

Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to convene an urgent meeting between him and the leadership of the National Assembly as well as other stakeholders to avert a stalemate in the ongoing constitutional amendment.

Falana’s position is coming on the heels of last week’s face off between the president and the federal lawmakers, following the former’s refusal to assent to the 4th amendment to the 1999 constitution.

In a letter addressed to both chambers of the National Assembly last week, Jonathan had challenged the procedure and the substance of the proposed amendment of the constitution.

But in a statement he issued in this regard yesterday, Falana noted that considering the enormous resources invested in the constitutional review, President Jonathan “ought to have convened a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly with a view to ironing out the grey areas”.

The constitutional lawyer warned that if care was not taken, “the over 70 proposed amendments proposed by the legislators may suffer the same fate” like the 108 amendments of the constitution that were thrown away with the third term agenda of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006.

He said, “Therefore, President Jonathan should be advised to convene an urgent meeting of all the stakeholders with a view to removing the controversial clauses from the proposed amendment. Once that is done the National Assembly should pass the bill and send it back to the President for his assent.

“Instead of throwing out the baby with the bath- water the provisions of the 4th amendment to the Constitution should be supported to the extent that it has recognized the right of the Nigerian people to enforce their socio-economic rights enshrined in chapter two of the Constitution”.

Falana added that, while it was to the utter embarrassment of the National Assembly that Jonathan decided to withhold his assent to 4th amendment to the constitution, the federal lawmakers also “have themselves to blame for engaging in the instalmental amendments of a Constitution imposed on the Nigerian people by military dictators.

Jonathan’s May 28 Handover To Create Power Vacuum Before Swearing in

President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to formally handover to President-elect Muhammadu Buhari on May 28 will create a power vacuum for a few hours between the period he hands over and the morning of May 29 when his successor will be formally sworn-in as the president.

Making the president’s intention to deviate from the norm, the Minister of Information,  Mrs. Patricia Akwashiki, who briefed State House correspondents on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, said Jonathan would formally handover to President-elect Muhammadu Buhari on May 28 at a dinner

She added that he had directed all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the federal government to submit their handover briefs to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on or before April 20.

However, speaking on the May 28 handover date proposed by the president, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said the new date was a deviation from the law as a vacuum would be created should he handover before Buhari’s swearing in.

“As far as the law is concerned, President Jonathan is in charge of the country until May 29. He cannot cut short his presidency in the name of handing over the day before at a dinner, as there is no provision for a vacuum.

“He is the president till the morning of May 29 when Buhari takes the oath of office. There is no provision for a vacuum of eight or nine hours, and I am sure the president will be properly advised,” he said.

During the briefing, Akwashiki, said: “You know we are already in transition, so there is very little to report. What we discussed with the president in council, he emphasised on the need for all MDAs to submit their handover notes to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation by the 20th of this month, that is next Monday.

“So we are going to be very busy this weekend putting our handover notes together.

“The president also emphasised that he would require another briefing from all MDAs to indicate inherited projects, how far they have been executed; and initiated projects by his administration and the level of completion, whether completed, ongoing or abandoned.

“We discussed other issues but we were particularly paying attention to the transition and how to make it effective. As you are all aware, we have a transition committee already set up by the president, headed by the vice-president. Other than that we have an inaugural committee that is headed by the SGF.

“So everything we are doing is aimed at achieving a smooth transition, and getting all our notes together.”

According to the minister, by May 28, the president will formally hand over at a dinner, while May 29 would be reserved for the incoming government.

“By May 28, we expect to have wrapped up this administration and we will be welcoming the incoming one. Also, you know May 29 is Democracy Day so we will have activities lined up all through that week showcasing all what we have achieved and all other things we normally do on our Democracy Day, except that this year is special with the inauguration of our new president who is coming up on May 29,” she explained.

Asked if council meetings would continue or put on hold, Akwashiki provided further clarification on the handover format to be used by the MDAS, stating: “It is for the MDAs to submit their notes to the SGF who will handle the total package of the handover to the incoming administration.

“There is a format to follow and so it becomes easier for all the MDAs to follow the template. If they do that it will be easier for the president to compile everything.

“The format is to ensure you submit everything before they pass it to the incoming government. That is not to say that governance has stopped, of course we are in government until the day the president-elect takes the oath of office.

“There will be no vacuum, as there are things happening. And if you have any pending contract approval it has to be submitted before the 13th of May.

“Everything that requires the president’s approval should be submitted before May 13.

“We also do not want the incoming administration to accuse us of rushing projects, which is normal, so we are guided by that. And if you have approvals, we are going to have Federal Executive Council meetings every week, the last one that will be the valedictory one on May 20.

“So governance is not stopping, we are still working and in the event you have approvals it must be concluded before May 13.”

Source –

How to Stop Political Violence, by Femi Falana

In the 1990s, the results of credible elections were annulled in Nigeria, Algeria and some other African countries by dictatorial regimes. The political violence generated by such criminal annulment led to the disruption of the democratic process in the continent. In 2008, the refusal of the electoral body in Kenya to announce the results of the presidential election led to the brutal killing of over a thousand people .

Owing to the weak criminal justice system in that country, Mr. Kofi Anan, a former Secretary-General of the United Nations was invited to conduct an inquiry into the political violence. The investigation report formed the basis of the trial of Messrs Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Notwithstanding the election of both suspects as President and Vice President of Kenya while the case was pending the charges were not discontinued.

Instead of strengthening the democratic institutions in their respective countries African leaders have threatened to withdraw the ratification of the Statute of Rome by their countries if the trial of their Kenyan colleague was not terminated by the Special Prosecutor of the ICC. Although the case has been struck out for want of diligent prosecution the African Union has decided to empower the African Court on Human Rights sitting in Arusha, Tanzania to deal with allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity involving African leaders. As no political leader wanted to be charged before the ICC the 2013 General Election in Kenya did not witness the orgy of violence that marred the previous election.

A fortnight ago, Mr. Kofi Anan and Chief Emeka Anyaoku, a former secretary-general of the Commonwealth, jointly presided over the signing of a Non-Violence Accord by the presidential candidates of the political parties that are taking part in the 2015 General Election scheduled to hold in Nigeria next month. At the well celebrated ceremony which held in Abuja the candidates of the two leading political parties embraced each other.

While the media and several people were excited with the development I expressed the view that the so called peace accord would not stem the tide of political violence in the country due to the violent nature of the electoral system coupled with official impunity.

In a number of decided cases, the courts have held that candidates sponsored by political parties cannot be held vicariously liable for politically motivated violence and electoral malpractice carried out on their behalf unless they can be directly linked with instigating or directing their supporters to engage in such criminality.

Condemnation of perpetrators

Indeed, political leaders usually dissociate themselves from acts of violence by condemning the perpetrators. However, if the suspects are charged to court the leaders turn round to engage the services of lawyers to defend them. In many cases, attorneys-general are directed to file nolle prosequi to stop the prosecution of suspects who belong to the ruling parties. Hence, the cases of the hundreds of suspects charged to court by the Police for electoral offences committed during the 2003, 2007 and 2011 general elections were abruptly terminated in all the states of the federation.

In the last few months, Nigerians have witnessed a reign of terror by armed thugs who have engaged in the bombing or burning of party secretariats, the destruction of vehicles belonging to political parties, the harassment of political opponents , the wearing of masks by “security personnel” at campaign rallies, the extrajudicial killing and brutal attacks of innocent people at party congresses and primary elections, the unprovoked assault on judges, the throwing of stones at leaders etc.

In spite of the warning by the electoral officials the illegal use of official vehicles by public officers for political campaigns has continued. Top political leaders have continued to make inciting statements. A governor published a death wish advert which could have provoked ethno-religious riots. Another governor attended a meeting where ex-militants threatened to declare a war on the Republic if the President is “dethroned” in the forthcoming general election.

It is hoped that those who are beating the drum of war will be called to order by President Jonathan. After all, they never took part in the streets protests held in Lagos and Abuja which compelled the National Assembly to recognise Dr. Jonathan as the Acting President in May 2010. Neither did they blackmail Nigerians from all parts of the country to vote for the President in 2011. With respect to the stoning of President Jonathan during a political rally in Bauchi, last week, Governor Isa Yaguda has pointed accusing fingers at some unnamed members of the ruling party.

This is a serious allegation which should be investigated by the Police with a view to bringing the culprits to book..
It is common knowledge that the bulk of the infractions of the Law highlighted above took place after the signing of the peace accord. The National Human Rights Commission has said that “signing a peace pact is easy, the more difficult part is to ensure that the political office seekers and their supporters work within the rules of engagement.” But office seekers and their supporters cannot operate within ‘the rules of engagement” if they are treated like sacred cows. It ought to be pointed out that executive immunity does not cover election petitions and electoral offences! In Turaki v. Dalhaltu(2003) 38 WRN 54 at 168 Oguntade JCA (as he then was) held that “If a Governor were to be considered immuned from court proceedings, that would create the position where a sitting Governor would be able to flout election laws and regulations to the detriment of other persons contesting with him. This will make a nonsense of the election process and be against the spirit of our national Constitution which in its tenor provides for a free and fair election.”

Crisis of impunity

Since ours is a country which claims to operate under the Rule of Law it is inexplicable that the suspects involved in sabotaging the electoral process have not been charged to any criminal court. The crisis of impunity in the land has been compounded by the partisan involvement of the authorities of the police, the armed forces and other security agencies in the political process. Although there are adequate and elaborate provisions in the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended and the penal statutes to deal with political violence and electoral malfeasance the managers of the neo-colonial state lack the political will to bring electoral offenders to book.

In 2007, President Umoru Yaradua admitted that the election which brought him to power was flawed. In a bid to sanitize the electoral system he set up the Mohammadu Uwais Electoral Committee . Among other recommendations the Committee called for the establishment of an Electoral Offences Tribunal.The Yaradua Administration rejected the recommendation without any justification. However, following the political violence which greeted the announcement of the results of the presidential election in some states in the North and Akwa Ibom in April 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan set up the Ahmed Lemu Panel to investigate the crisis. From the detailed report of the Panel, 943 people were killed while 838 others were injured. While the Federal Government has paid over N10 billion as reparation to the victims of the riots, the 626 suspects who were arrested in connection with arson, culpable homicide and other grave offences perpetrated during the civil disturbances have been left off the hook on account of official impunity that has become the order of the day under the current political dispensation.
Convinced that electoral offenders ought to be prosecuted in order to stop electoral violence the Panel equally made a strong case for the setting up of “an autonomous and constitutionally recognized electoral Offences Tribunal, but which may be an ad hoc body as it may not have much to do in between election periods.” In accepting the recommendation of the Federal Government undertook to take all necessary actions to establish the Tribunal.

Non violence accord

Although the recommendation was adopted in August 2012, the Tribunal is yet to be set up. Having signed the non-violence accord President Goodluck Jonathan should now proceed to institute the Electoral Offences Tribunal. It is time an end was put to the official endorsement of politically motivated violence in the country.

However, if the Federal Government is desirous to maintain the status quo it is pertinent to note that section 150 of the Electoral Act has empowered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deal with prosecute electoral offenders. But since the INEC lacks the capacity to discharge the onerous statutory duty the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) should take up the task of prosecuting electoral offenders throughout the country. To ensure the success of the proposal the NBA should be prepared to collaborate with the Body of Attorneys-General and the Nigeria Police Force. Unless electoral offenders are punished as envisaged by the Electoral Act and the Constitution the subversion of the democratic process will continue unabated.


Nigerian Leaders Are Responsible For B’ Haram – Femi Falana

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, has lambasted political leaders in the country for the loss of thousands of lives to Boko Haram sect.

Falana said the leaders promoted religion to the detriment of the unity of the people.

Falana spoke on Wednesday at the 7th edition of Emeritus Prof. David Ijalaiye (SAN) and celebration of his 50th year anniversary at bar and academics.

The programme was organised by Equity Chambers of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile –Ife, with Justice Amina Augie chairing the occasion.

Falana cited the building of mosque and church at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa and sponsorship of pilgrims to holy lands by governments at all levels as the root of religious division in the country.

He said, “Boko Haram is fighting and Nigeria is not responding. If we were still under military rule, I would have suspected a sabotage. The problem of Boko Haram is the cause of both Muslims and Christians. We have allowed religion to outshine our reasoning and we now base our fairness on religious ground. There is no law that states that government shall sponsor anybody for religious purposes.