Our attention has been drawn to reports in the media indicating that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has scheduled the screening and re-confirmation hearing of Mr. Ibrahim Mustapha Magu for the position of substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for Wednesday 15th March, 2017, sequel to his re-nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the light of this development, it is imperative to remind the Senate of the legal encumbrances against her action to proceed with the screening despite having knowledge of the pendency of Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/102/2017 between Raji Rasheed Oyewumi v. Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki & 14 Others at the Federal High Court, Abuja presided over by His Lordship, Hon. Justice Binta Nyako.
The Plaintiff in the above suit, Mr. Raji Rasheed Oyewumi, an anti-coruption crusader, is seeking among other reliefs: the disqualification of the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki from presiding over or participating in the screening, deliberation and voting on the nomination of Mr. Magu for the position of Chairman of the EFCC in view of his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal given that the 15th Defendant (Magu) coordinated and supervised the criminal investigation which crystallized in his arraignment and ongoing prosecution.
The Plaintiff is also asking the Court to restrain 10 other Senators, namely: Godswill Obot Akpabio, Jonah Jang, Aliyu Magatakarda Wammako, Stella Adaeze Oduah, Theodore Orji, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Ahmed Rufai Sani, Danjuma Goje, Joshua Dariye and Adamu Abdullahi from participating in the screening, deliberation and voting on the nomination of the Magu for the position of Chairman of the EFCC in view of their pending or ongoing cases of financial and economic crimes given that the 15th Defendant (Magu) is coordinating and supervising the investigation into or prosecution for the said financial and economic crimes involving the 10 named Senators.
The suit seeks in part, to enforce the provisions of Sections 56, 172 of, and Paragraphs 1 and 9 of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the Senate Standing Orders, 2015 (as amended) which expressly prohibits conflict of interest by public officers, including members of the Senate.
Apart from the Senate President and his 10 colleagues named above, other Defendants joined in the suit are: the Clerk of the National Assembly; the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Attorney General of the Federation and Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
On Wednesday 13th February, 2017, His Lordship Justice Binta Nyako granted leave to the Plaintiff/Applicant upon a motion ex parte moved by his Counsel, Mr. Inibehe Effiong to effect service of the Originating Summons, accompanying processes and subsequent processes in the suit on the 1st to the 13th Defendants/Respondents (Saraki, the 10 other Senators named herein, Clerk of the National Assembly and the Senate) by substituted means, to wit: By delivering same to the Clerk of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at Old Building, White House, National Assembly Complex, Three Arms Zone, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The Certified True Copy of the Enrolled Order for substituted service dated 23rd February, 2017 together with the Originating Summons and other accompanying processes in the suit were duly and effectively served on the Clerk of the National Assembly by the Bailiff of the Court on Friday 24th February, 2017. A Counsel in the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly (Mrs. Adeagbo Esq.) personally called the Plaintiff’s lawyer on Tuesday 7th March, 2017 to acknowledge the receipt of the court processes.
Given that Senator Saraki, the 10 other Senators named herein, the Clerk of the National Assembly and the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are aware of the suit pending against them, the court processes having been duly served on them, they are jointly and severally mandated by law not to prejudice or render nugatory, the res (subject matter) in the suit by taking part in the scheduled screening and re-confirmation hearing of Magu.
We admonish the Senate President and the 10 other named Senators affected by the suit not to participate in the scheduled screening exercise. Our admonition is premised on the tested and trite legal principle of Lis Pendens which prohibits a litigant or party to a suit from taking any step or action which is capable of altering, affecting, destroying or prejudicing the subject matter before the Court.
In the recent case of NGBONGHA & ORS v. EBAK & ORS (2016) LPELR-41228(CA), the Court of Appeal held thus:
‘’Therefore, parties to a proceeding pending in Court ought not to do anything which may have the effect of rendering nugatory the Judgment of the Court. A party may not alter to his advantage or disadvantage of his opponent issues in contest in a pending suit. By the principle of stare decisis, the decision of the Apex Court is binding on all other lower Courts. See OBI v. INEC (2007) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1046) page 565. DR. EMMANEUL ANDI UBA v. DAME VIRGY ETIABA & ORS. (2008) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1067)’’ Per ELECHI, J.C.A. (Pp. 15-16, Paras. F-F)
Similarly, in the celebrated case of RT. HON ROTIMI CHIBUKE AMAECHI VS INEC & ORS (2008) 5 NWLR (PART 1080) 227 the Supreme Court held thus:
“The doctrine of LIS PENDENS finds expression in the assertion that it prevents any transfer of any right or the taking of any steps capable of foisting a state of helplessness and/or hopelessness on the parties or the Court. By that doctrine, the law does not allow to litigant parties or to give them during the currency of the litigation involving the rights in it so as to prejudice any of the litigating parties. The doctrine negates and disallows any transfer of rights or interest in any subject matter that is being litigated upon during the pendency of litigation in respect of the said subject matter, The well known maxim is “Pendette like NIHIL innoveture” meaning: During a litigation. Nothing new should be introduced.”
Furthermore, Order 53 (5) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (As Amended) expressly forbids the Senate from discussing any matter which is the subject of a pending litigation.
At the last adjourned date of this suit on Tuesday 28th February, 2017, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) was ably represented by three lawyers from the Federal Ministry of Justice. We therefore urge the AGF to exercise his constitutional powers as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation and forestall the seeming attempt to violate the law as clearly espoused supra.
Senator Bukola Saraki and his colleagues named above should uphold the Rule of Law and stay action on the screening and confirmation hearing of Magu or recuse themselves from same pending the hearing and determination of the suit which will be coming up on 3rd April, 2017 for further mention. Doing otherwise will not only be contemptuous of the court but will constitute an attack on the judicial process.
Inibehe Effiong ESQ.
For: INIBEHE EFFIONG CHAMBERS,
Counsel to the Plaintiff.
The FULANI youths, Anas Shuaibu 20 old ad Yahaya Musa 14 who were grazing their animals were attacked and killed by the youths without any slight provocation.
The Association condemned the cowardly attacks by the blood thirsty youths and call on the security agencies to fish the culprits out and bring them to book. The Association wish to commend the efforts of the youth leader of the community who supported the security agencies in fishing out the suspected killers and called on the FULANI to exercise restrain and remain law abiding as the relevant authorities are working round the clock to ensure that justice is done.
The Association called on the media to always report these aggressions rather than reporting only one side. We observed that when Fulani’s are attacked the press will be silent but when there is reprisal or retaliation it is blown out of proportion there portraying the aggrieved as the aggressors.
The Association also condemn the killing of another Fulani man whose corpse was discovered in MADAKIYA, Bajju Chiefdom in Zangon Kataf LGA.
The Association wish reaffirm it’s support for dialogue as the only option for achieving lasting peace and reconciliation and call on all parties to forgive the past and embrace peace without which there will no development.
Ibrahim Abdullah. Haruna Usman
Ast Nat. Sec. Get. State Chairman.
The African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has launched a civil society whistle blower project named Corruption Anonymous. Corruption Anonymous aims to create public confidence and acceptance of the new Whistle Blower Initiative of the Nigerian government. The project seeks to use citizens to win the war against corruption and enhance accountability in public office by providing a mechanism for anonymous reporting that is acceptable, credible and effective.
“Considering the endemic nature of corruption in Nigeria and the cost and challenge of prosecuting corruption, it is important to support any initiative that has the potential to prevent and, therefore, reduce corruption,” said Chido Onumah, coordinator of AFRICMIL. “Winning the war on corruption requires urgent holistic attention and a creative response that is both civil society oriented and sustainable.”
Onumah noted that because of Nigeria’s weak institutions and how systemic corruption is in virtually all areas of public and corporate Nigeria, it will take more than government intervention to sustain the war on corruption. “Given the opportunity, citizens can do something about corruption,” he said.
According to him, the overall goal of Corruption Anonymous is to strengthen the capacity of citizens and civil society to contribute to the success of the anti-corruption war by keying into the new whistle blower initiative, increasing patronage and support for the initiative as well as creating confidence in the system that the information citizens volunteer is not only used but that whistle blowers are protected.
Corruption Anonymous will bring together three interrelated stakeholders in the fight against corruption, namely: anticorruption agencies, the media and civil society to produce a synergy that would make the whistle blower policy sustainable. The recent successes of the war against corruption in the country, including recovery of large sums of money linked to the efforts of whistle blowers show that people are willing to report corruption if the conditions are right.
Onumah, who emphasized the need for a whistle blower legislation so that whistle blowers are not left at the mercy of offenders, said the project will support advocacy for the passage of the Whistle Blower (Protection) bill.
African Centre for Media & Information Literacy
Green Concern for Development (GREENCODE) and Peace Point Actions (PPA) – an environmental NGOs based in Calabar – have called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to ignore the empty threat by a group of political sycophants, who are looking for ways of winning Ben Ayade’s heart for their personal and political reasons.
GREENCODE and PPA commend the bold steps and the effort of the Federal Government so far in listening to the plight of the citizens, by ordering Stop Work on the Superhighway project on which work had commenced without an approved EIA.
We recall that the Superhighway was ill-conceived as it will not be cost-effective but would plunge the state into debt, besides the loss of biodiversity and the impoverishment of the people.
The proposed Superhighway came along with an incredible revocation of land ownership of over 180 communities, began the indiscriminate destruction of virgin forest areas, houses and farm land. Secondly, the going by the national laws and policy, such project should have an acceptable Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) but despite the pressure for the state to commission an all-inclusive and participatory EIA process, the state contracted a company that turned in a shameful EIA report full of ‘Cut and Paste’ perhaps from other similar reports, which clearly shows that no detailed and participatory EIA was conducted in the state, thus pointing to the fact that there is more to hide in the short and long term negative impacts of the Super Highway.
Thirdly, as NGOs concerned about prudent management of public finance, we have faulted this project as the initial contract of bulldozing of the highway pathway from Akpabuyo to Bekwara was never made public; neither did it comply with the Cross River state Public Procurement Law 2011.
Fourthly, the state did not consult the citizens before deciding if the road is needed or not. We note also that the state government has not publicly displayed the analysis of how the road is going to be financed. Even if it will be under the Public Private Partnership (PPA), at least the state should be able to share publicly what will be the state’s contribution and how the private investor would recoup their investment. These leave the citizens to suspect that the reasons behind bulldozing of some of the communities’ virgin forests is basically to fell trees and use the proceeds to compensate the private investors, also the revocation of lands within the 10km wide on both side of the so called Super highway from Bakassi to Bekwara was A massive land grab that would have been auctioned to the highest bidders and used in paying the part of the investment.
Similarly, since the state has refused to open up on how the highway construction will be finance, citizens have concluded that perhaps upon completion of the road, several toll gates will be installed on the road with high toll fees, so that the investors can recoup their investment.
The superhighway project will needlessly displace over 180 communities, destroy our natural heritage and place a generational debt burden on Cross Riverians. If the reason is truly to offer faster link from the south to north and convey goods from the so-called ‘Deep Sea Port’ in Bakassi, GREENCODE and PPA as a partner in the Cross River state project is recommending the following:
- Suspend the plan for the construction of superhighway
- Plan and construct a fast rail track beside existing Calabar-Ikom- Ogoja and Bekwara highway which will be useful in transporting goods and services faster than the ill-conceived ‘Superhighway. The fast rail will be safer, faster and cheaper and will convey larger number number of goods, services and humans than the superhighway.
- Also, the pathway needed for rail track will be have less impact on the environment.
- Withdraw the empty threat on federal government and tender apology to CrossRiverians.
Comrade E. Edem Umo Johnson
For GREENCODE For PPA Team.
The Emir of Kano yesterday revealed that the state government is preparing a law that will make it mandatory for men seeking to marry second wives to satisfy certain conditions before they can be allowed to do so.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) wholeheartedly supports this move. It conforms with the pronouncements of the Glorious Qur’an on marriage. It is a bold, visionary and revolutionary step.
Although Islam allows a man to marry up to four wives, this permission is meant to provide security for widows and other unmarried women. It is an open secret that women outnumber men in all parts of the world. Islam therefore permits men to marry more than one wife in other to provide shelter and welfare for those women who would have been left single.
In the first instance, the Qur’an enjoins those who do not have the capacity to maintain even a single wife to abstain from marriage until they can become economically strong enough. The verse says, “Let those who do not have the means for marriage keep themselves chaste until Allah gives them means out of his Grace” (Qur’an 24:33).
The above verse takes care of men who are still bachelors. But another verse caters for both bachelors and married men. It allows a man who already has one wife to take a second woman, a third or even a fourth but with the proviso that such a man must have sufficient wherewithal to care for them all.
The verse says inter alia, “…Marry two, three or four women of your choice. But if you fear that you will not be able to deal justly with them, marry only one…” (Qur’an 4:3). It is thus clear that, ceteris paribus, Islam actually encourages monogamy and a second wife (or third and fourth) can only come in where there is surplus provision.
What the Kano State government is trying to do is to give interpretation to the phrase ‘to deal justly’ with two, three or four women. This becomes necessary in view of the fact that many Muslims abuse this window by marrying more than one wife when in reality they cannot even maintain one wife comfortably. The result is the production of children who end up as social miscreants.
MURIC commends the vision and courage of the Emir of Kano as well as the forthrightness of Kano State Government for evolving this great idea. We charge other states which have Muslim majority population to emulate this policy. It is capable of reducing poverty, raising the standard of living and increasing the number of literate citizens.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Junior Chamber International (JCI) is a membership-based non-profit organization of young active citizens aged 18 to 40 in more than 100 countries who are dedicated to creating positive change in their communities. With about 5,000 Local Organizations, JCI forms a vibrant global community of nearly 200,000 active citizens with millions of alumni. JCI Nigeria is the first youth organization of its kind in Nigeria and was established in 1957 with members across every state of the federation.
Since 1983, JCI has formally recognized young persons who have excelled in their chosen fields of endeavour and created positive change in their communities through its annual Ten Outstanding Young Persons (JCI TOYP) Awards.
Past recipients of the JCI TOYP Awards in Nigeria include such well-known personalities as Dr. Ola Orekunrin (won TOYP World in 2013), Ray Ekpu (won TOYP World in 1988), Sidi Modupe Osho (won TOYP World in 1996), Sir Shina Peters, Kanu Nwankwo, John Momoh, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti, Nduka Obaigbena, Ibukun Awosika, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Daddy Showkey, Richard Mofe Damijo, Gbenga Sesan, Linda Ikeji, Japheth Omojuwa, and legends such as the late Bimbo Odukoya, MEE Mofe-Damijo and Amaka Igwe. All were named before the age of 40, and before they had achieved national prominence.
Speaking on the 2017 TOYP Awards, JCI Nigeria President, JCI Senator Richard Babajide Ojo says, “As an organization working towards the fulfilment of its mission of empowering the youth, JCI Nigeria recognizes young people who excel in their chosen fields, endeavours and in commitments to their communities. These young people’s stories of discovery, determination and ingenuity help inspire others to be better leaders and create better societies.”
On the nomination and voting process, the 2017 Chairman TOYP Awards, ‘Bisi Ogunwale explains, “Any Nigerian can nominate anyone between the ages of 18 and 40. A select panel of eminent and credible Nigerians from different walks will serve as judges for the nominations phase, while members of the public will be invited to vote on the nominations after the release of a shortlist in each category.”
He also added that JCI Nigeria partner, KPMG, a reputable international professional services firm, will carry out verification of nominations and voting process.
The 2017 JCI Nigeria TOYP Award Ceremony takes place in Lagos in September, coinciding with JCI Nigeria’s 60th anniversary. The Nigerian Honourees will later be presented for the global JCI TOYP Awards alongside other honourees from over a hundred JCI countries, out of which the final list of Ten global honourees will be selected and awarded in Amsterdam, Netherlands in November 2017.
A Civil Society Organisation, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption-MIIVOC, has invoked the Freedom of Information Act in demanding for details of Annual Compliance Reports by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government with the FOI Act, from 2011 to 2016.
MIIVOC made the demand, pursuant to section 29 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, which provides that “Public Institutions shall submit to the Attorney General of the Federation, a report which shall cover the preceding fiscal year…”
In a letter dated 7th February, 2017, entitled: Request for details of Annual Compliance Reports by MDAs, status of Senate Order of Arrest of former EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde and details of the regulation submitted to the International Community at the Egmont Meeting on Nigeria’s AML/CFT Compliance; a request under the FOI Act, and signed by MIIVOC’s FOI Officer, Phillip Inyang, MIIVOC made a 6-point demand on the Attorney General of the Federation and Mister for Justice.
“We are concerned about the low compliance level with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government, the raging controversy over the whereabouts of immediate past EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde and the status of the arrest warrant issued by the Senate on him as well as the Regulation allegedly issued by the immediate past Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Mohammed Adoke SAN and submitted to the Egmont group on the situation with Nigeria’s Anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism compliance.”
“Considering the controversy trailing the above and more, we invoke the FOI Act, 2011 to demand for clarifications.”
“A Certified True Copy of the details of Annual Compliance Reports by MDAs with the FOI Act from 2011 to 2015. The record should include: names of MDAs, compliance status, date of submission of report and all other relevant details.”
“An information on why the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice (AGF) is yet to direct the Inspector General of Police to arrest/produce Ibrahim Lamorde, former EFCC boss to give account of his stewardship, as ordered by the Senate.”
“An information on why the purported Order of Court (if any) restraining the Senate/Federal Government from investigating, arresting and prosecuting former EFCC boss, Ibrahim Lamorde, over allegations of corruption has not been challenged.”
“A certified true copy of the Guideline allegedly submitted to the Egmont group of FIUs by the immediate past Attorney General and Minister for Justice on Nigeria’s compliance level with international requirements on CFT/AML.”
“An update on the fate and present status of Nigeria on compliance with International requirements on CFT/AML?”
“Details on the situation with Nigeria’s quest to become a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), having applied.”
The demand for Annual Compliance Report of MDAs may not be unconnected with an earlier decision from a MIIVOC- organized FOI Roundtable in December, 2016, wherein participants resolved to embark on a Class Action; involving the joining of hundreds of Public Institutions in a legal Suit for violation of the FOI law.
FOI Officer, MIIVOC
The Citizens of Impact Foundation (CIF), a Social Justice Organization with the primary purpose of promoting the interest of ordinary citizens of Nigeria wishes to inform the General Public that Mrs. Aisha Yesufu has resigned from the board of trustees of the organization.
CIF wishes to thank Mrs. Aisha Yesufu for her invaluable contributions in the formative stages of the organization.
We wish her all the very best in her future engagements.
Citizens of Impact Foundation (CIF) have been in the forefront of championing due process in recruitments by government agencies. We embarked on a protest to the Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation on the 27th of July 2016 against secret and underhand recruitments in the Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service and Nigerian Prisons Service and are still following up on the recruitment processes to ensure level playing field for all citizens who are qualified.
In November 2016, we followed up with NAFDAC on clandestine recruitment of 103 staff without any advertisement of such vacancies to the general public, a violation of due process and federal character principles. However, they responded with letters of waiver from the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and Federal Character Commission.
We have also written to the Comptroller General of Immigration as we were approached by the aggrieved Nigeria Immigration 582 (NIS-582) – a subset of the Nigeria Immigration 2000 involved in the recent screening and re-verification exercise which followed the Presidential Order for their reinstatement – with proof of irregularities in the final results.
NAMES OF THE TRUSTEES:
- HAJIA MIRIA YAKUBU IKUNAIYE, CHAIRMAN
- DANIEL OLUWASEUN OLATUNDE, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
- IBIENE WILLIAMS, FINANCIAL SECRETARY
- DOROTHY NJEMANZE, TREASURER
- GANA FATIMA ZANNA, MEMBER
- DEJI KOLAWOLE, MEMBER
- SAMBO ISHAQ SIDIQ, MEMBER
- CHINWE MADUBUIKE, MEMBER
- CHIMA ACHU, MEMBER
Signed for Citizens of Impact Foundation
Daniel Oluwaseun Olatunde
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has unveiled two documents designed to push the boundaries of implementation of transparency and accountability in the extractive industries in Nigeria.
The first document is the Roadmap on Beneficial Ownership disclosure. It seeks to outline Nigeria’s strategy towards the implementation and fulfillment of Requirement 2.5 of the EITI standard which among other things demands public disclosures of the real owners of oil, gas and mining companies that operate in Nigeria.
The roadmap provides comprehensive plans and actions designed to guide Nigeria in its implementation of beneficial ownership disclosure in the extractive industries.
The strategy document also identified the institutional frameworks that are required for effective implementation of ownership transparency, clarity on definition of beneficial owners and explanation on thresholds for public disclosure required in the process.
The document also defined those who fall into the category of Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and the reporting obligations expected of them as well as the challenges that may be encountered during the process of data collection, data quality assurance, accessibility and timeliness.
The plan also identified the need for capacity building for all stakeholders expected to be involved in the implementation given the complexity of the extractive industries in Nigeria and highlighted the need for public education and enlightenment on the principles and benefits of Beneficial Ownership disclosures.
The roadmap apart from fulfilling the EITI requirement, is also in line with the commitment made by President Muhammadu Buhari at the London anti-corruption summit where he pledged to establish a publicly accessible register of all companies operating in Nigeria.
In Mr. President’s words, “we welcome the new 2016 EITI Standard, in particular, the requirements on beneficial ownership and the sale of the government’s share of production”.
The President also declared that “Nigeria will establish a transparent central register of foreign companies bidding on public contracts and buying property. We welcome the proposal by developed countries to work together to improve the access of developing countries to beneficial ownership information for use in public contracting”, President Buhari declared.
The EITI standards require all implementing countries to publish their Beneficial Ownership Roadmap by January 2017 and commence full implementation by January 2020.
The process adopted in the development of the roadmap was consultative, robust and consistent with the multi-stakeholders approach of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) which involves civil society, media, extractive companies, relevant government agencies and development partners.
In a similar development, NEITI has unveiled an open data policy in keeping with the realization that the world is currently witnessing a global shift towards making data open and accessible. This is also in compliance with the EITI Standards and the global shift towards open data availability which is largely attributed to technological advancement and increasing demand for transparency and accountability by citizens.
Under the open data policy released by NEITI, information and data contained in its industry audits would be made publicly available and accessible in a reusable format.
The policy defined Open data as data that is in the public domain or ought to be in the public domain. The definition also provides that such data should be accessible, freely used at no cost and can be shared and built upon by anyone.
The open data policy also requires that the data be used anywhere and for any purpose without restrictions from copyright, patent or other control mechanism and must also be expressly excluded by the provisions of the laws of Nigeria.
This requires making the data convenient, modifiable in open format, easily retrievable, indexed, and well organized. The open data policy also represents the framework for the implementation of the global drive for use of open data to pursue reforms, enthrone transparency and accountability especially in the extractive sector of the Nigerian economy.
The open data policy is expected not only to create a solid foundation for open data disclosures in the extractive sector, but has the potential for implementation in other sectors of the economy.
NEITI therefore appeals to the media, civil society, parliamentarians and citizens to avail themselves of the two policy documents and use them as tools for public education, information dissemination and enlightenment on governance issues in the extractive industry in Nigeria.
Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji
The founder of Omega Fire Ministries, Johnson Suleman, recently instructed members of his church to kill Fulanis. An attempt by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) to arrest him in Ado Ekiti yesterday was foiled by Governor Ayodele Fayose.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly condemns Pastor Johnson Suleman’s vituperations. It is provocative, irresponsible and unpatriotic. In the same vein, we are nonplussed by Governor Fayose’s penchant for preventing security agents from performing their lawful duties. By shielding such a high profile suspect, Fayose has manifested blatant disregard for the rule of law, encouraged lawlessness and exhibited executive brigandage.
Pastor Johnson Suleman wants to make the country unsafe for Muslims and law abiding Fulanis. It is not in our character to issue threats. We are mature enough to control our emotions. Yet it is not out of cowardice that we prefer to tow the path of peaceful coexistence. Muslims have never been known to fear death or to compromise their faith. But we do not want to join issues with belligerent people who are always bullying Muslims and Fulanis by telling lies and issuing threats. Neither do we want to heat up the polity.
What will ordinary Muslims do when we exchange banters with firebrand Christian extremists like Johnson? Why should religious leaders speak as if they have stocked heaps of weapons in hiding? Why should spiritual guides incite their followers to kill and maim? What do religious leaders gain from goading their followers to shed blood?
The victims are usually the poor masses who are hypnotized by the rhetoric and mesmerized by the oratorical skills of their fanatical leaders. This is why leaders must weigh every word they utter. Leaders are models. They must live by example and teach their followers to learn how to love, to tolerate, to forgive and to peacefully coexist.
MURIC charges Nigerians to objectively and critically examine the Fulani herdsmen phenomenon. They should not allow some misguided spiritual leaders who have hidden agenda to becloud their sense of assessment. Fulanis have been coming to Nigeria before the 1914 amalgamation. Their nomadic and pastoral flow has never waned since the first Fulanis came from Futa Toro in Senegal in the 11th century. We should therefore not be surprised that the criminal elements among the herdsmen are not even Nigerians. They are Senegalese and Malians.
It is therefore unwise of us as Nigerians to allow a few lawless foreigners to cause religious or ethnic war in our land. Let us separate criminals from their tribe or religion. We should resist the temptation to stigmatise Fulanis or Muslims because a few herdsmen take the law into their hands. For the avoidance of doubts, we denounce the criminal activities of these herdsmen but we should mind where we point accusing fingers.
Are Nigerians unaware that the same Fulani herdsmen have are also been attacking and killing Muslims in Zamfara, Niger, Kano, Bauchi and other Northern states? Why have we been ignoring this angle if we are sincere? Has the status of a herdsman changed when he attacks a Northern farmer or a Muslim and steals his cattle? Let us be objective. Let us stop criminalizing Fulanis and demonizing Muslims. It is the height of hypocrisy and absolute lack of patriotism to give the criminal activities a religious or ethnic colouration.
We therefore call on the Nigerian security agencies to do the needful. Nobody is above the law. Fayose or no Fayose, Pastor Johnson Suleman must still be questioned and cautioned for his vituperations and provocative statements. He cannot remain tied to Fayose’s apron string forever.
Even Fayose should be told point blank that his days as a free man are numbered. He must answer for his executive rascality and lawlessness. No governor in the history of Nigeria has abused his office like Fayose has done. His cup of executive recklessness has been filled to the brim. The people of Ekiti State have indeed entered a ‘one chance’ bus. Or what do we say about a state governor who is seldom sober? We do not need a micro-biologist to tell us whether or not Fayose has the ‘area boy’ syndrome virus.
We charge the Nigerian security agencies to spare no effort in dealing decisively with the notorious herdsmen who have brought untold hardship to Nigerian farmers. The full wrath of the law must be unleashed on them for killing innocent farmers and destroying their farms. We appeal to Muslims to go about their lawful duties and to remain calm and law abiding. We invite religious leaders to douse tension in their areas of influence in order to allow peace to reign.
As we round up, we remind the United Nations Organisation, the European Union and the African Union to take note of the hate speeches emanating from Nigeria and their authors for the day when the come will come to become.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Our attention has just been drawn by the leadership of the Next of Kin of Late Primary School Teachers in Akwa Ibom State (1991 – date) to the illegal and unconstitutional molestation, arrest and detention of three leading members of the group: Messrs. Benjamin Benson, Enobong Kenneth and one Utibe on Monday 23rd January, 2017 at about 11:00 AM on the orders of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel. The affected persons are currently being detained at the Police Area Command, Barracks Road, Uyo.
Members of the group have been agitating peacefully for years to get the attention of the State government to their plight. Rather than pay attention to the legitimate demands of the group which consist largely of orphans and bereaved citizens whose parents or guardians died while in active service to the State government, the government has consistently ignored them.
The Next of Kin of Late Primary school teachers in Akwa Ibom State who lost their lives while in active service between 1991 to date have not been paid the entitlements of their late parents or relatives.
On Monday members of the group were at the Akwa Ibom State Government House to register their grievances only for the Nigeria Police Force to teargas, molest, harass, arrest and detain the three aforementioned leaders of the group in an attempt to stop members of the group from continuing with thier persistent agitation.
The Police were ostensibly ordered by the State governor to clampdown on the group which is seen as a source of constant irritation to the governor.
Rather than use the police to intimidate the group, Governor Udom Emmanuel should pay their entitlements without further delay. The State Government cannot allude to paucity of funds as an excuse for not paying the Next of Kin of those who spent several years imparting knowledge. Instead of dancing on the graves of the late teachers by arresting Benson, Kenneth and Utibe or any other member of the group, Governor Emmanuel should use part of N14.5billion he recently received as the State’s share of the part of the reimbursement for the over-deduction on the Paris Club loan to settle the entitlements of members of the group.
Since the inception of the current administration in Akwa Ibom State, there has been little respect for democratic values and human rights. Security agencies have been deployed indiscriminately to attack innocent citizens for merely exercising their fundamental rights. The reign of tyranny in Akwa Ibom State has to stop.
Nigerian citizens have the right to freedom of expression under Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), including the right to protest peacefully without a police permit as was held by the Nigerian Court of Appeal in the celebrated case of INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE V. ALL NIGERIA PEOPLES PARTY (2007) 18 NWLR (Pt.1066) 457.
The Akwa Ibom State Government and the Akwa Ibom State Police Command should immediately release the detained persons.
Inibehe Effiong, Esq.