Sack Amaechi now over bribery allegations, rights group tells Buhari
A human rights group, the International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (Intersociety) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Mr. Rotimi Amaechi as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of Transportation so as to pave way for his criminal investigation on account of strong allegations against him bordering on corruption and electoral fraud as contained in the letters of Hon Justices Sylvester Ngwuta Nwali and John Inyang Okoro (serving Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria) to the CJN.
The group also advised judicial officers who have been accused of corruption to use all available legal means to clear their names, while describing the ongoing anti-corruption crusade under Buhari as political terrorism in Nigeria.
Intersociety in a statement issued in Onitsha, Saturday, signed by its Board Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi; and Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Igboeli, said it is no longer hidden that the regime has resorted to political terrorism and barbarism in the anti corruption crusade.
“Hiding under the guise of anti corruption to perpetrate heinous state crimes such as treason, state murder and other forms of official terrorism,” the group said, “has been a recurring decimal in Nigeria; dating back to January 1966, during Nigeria’s first military coup.”
It recalled that “Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was), used the same excuse to oust the democratically elected Presidency of Shehu Shagari on 31st December 1983.”
It also observed that “since then, successive military and civilian governments in Nigeria have laid claims to ‘fight against corruption’ as the cornerstone of their administrations. The Obasanjo civilian administration of 1999-2007, was exceptionally noted to have gone the extra mile in creating visible anti corruption agencies such as EFCC and ICPC, created between 2000 and 2004.
“His anti corruption policies were also relatively proactive, civil and rule of law compliant; whereas those of the past military and civilian administrations particularly that of the Buhari military regime (1984-85) were archaic, retrogressive and repressive. There is on repeat mission in the current Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari with the worst yet to happen.
Continuing, Intersociety said: “In all this, Nigeria has ended up losing billions of dollars to its criminal political gangsters with over 90% of the looted funds ending up not being recovered. The worst is that the more the current administration shouts ‘fight against corruption’, the more public funds are looted with reckless abandon. Corrupt practices in Nigeria have not only gone e-gold or electronically undetected, but they have also been entrenched and clothed with impunity. As we speak, criminal enrichment in the country is going viral with illicitly acquired properties springing up in leading Nigerian cities. A trip to Nigerian roads and security checkpoints is another eye opener. Extortion at military (including soldiers and navy) checkpoints is now scientific and artistic with civilian agents recruited as collection agents under negotiated percentage settlements.
“A President who is flown in a private jet, acquired with looted funds, is busy looking for looters. Lawyers particularly the Silk, who illicitly charge roguish serving and former political office holders hundreds of millions of naira as consultancy and professional fees in high profile State graft or electoral cases, from illicit public funds, have joined ‘the fight against corruption’. Those who milked states like Rivers, Lagos and Edo and left them in quandary of indebtedness and penury are now ‘agents of anti corruption’; likewise print, visual and a number of pro establishment online media, acquired with looted public funds.
“Some mainstream CSOs and their leaders with juicy cuts from looted funds; propertied and motorised, are also part of the crusade. Today, in Nigeria under the Buhari Presidency, political opponents, activists and independent senior judicial officers are cajoled, threatened, repressed and labelled ‘looters’ and treated like violent criminals. These respected citizens are routinely taken into custody before investigation with prima facie evidence thousands of miles away to be laid on against them. When in custody, torture becomes a routine to force them to admit committing non-existent crimes or offences. Where reverse is the case, they are held incommunicado for months with impunity and untried.
“Fighting corruption with ‘captains or doyens of corruption’ leading the way or procuring the ‘government in power’ is akin to inviting a serial human parts dealer to come and become a defender of human rights in the human rights community. These explain the current State of bastardised and corrupted anti-corruption policy direction of the Buhari Administration; where political terrorism and barbarism now hold sway.
“Having carefully studied the recent late night state violence by President Buhari’s DSS against some respected senior judicial officers and associated revelations by some of them including Hon. Justices John Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Nwuta Nwali (serving Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria) as well as Hon. Justices Adeniyi Ademola, Mu’azu Pindiga and Nnamdi Dimgba (serving Judges of the Federal and State High Courts); we are, again, shocked and dismayed as what Nigeria has turned into in the past 17 months of Buhari’s Presidency. The roles of the print and visual media and a number of pro establishment online media are also very saddening; likewise the turn-coat position of the NBA.
“These quickly remind us of an immortal advice handed down to one Chris Ubah by Mr. Peter Obi (as he then was), who later became the Governor of Anambra State. The latter had advised the former to ‘guide his unguided utterances against judges handling the then Anambra State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal (September 2003 to August 2005) because it will take him 20 years to become a judge, that is if he so wishes and goes back to school to continue from where he dropped in junior secondary school’.
“These explain our deep sadness over coordinated attacks and image damnation launched by the Buhari Administration against the named serving senior judicial officers, using its riotous DSS and compromised media. While we have no apologies for any serving senior judicial officer that corruptly enriches him/herself or that allows him/herself to be corrupted, provided he or she is processed, prosecuted and punished in accordance with due process and constitutionalism; we condemn in unequivocal terms the deliberate and coordinated ruination of innocent others who have toiled and laboured to build and protect their integrity by being contented and refusing to be corrupted or tainted.
“Launching campaigns of calumny and criminal stigmatisation against a set of innocent serving senior judicial officers on account of their refusal to pervert the course of justice to impress the riotous agents of the Buhari Administration, is totally an irreparable damage, not only to the judges and their career but also to the collective image of Nigeria as a whole. This is more so when it is logically grounded that three out of every five Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria’s 774 LGAs may most likely not produce a Supreme Court Justice in twenty years, if not more than that.
“It is also tearful and heart-bleeding as how the conscience of the nation or democratic institutions in the country has turned over night into agents of darkness and layers of dictatorship and lawlessness. Rather than standing up at all times in defence of democracy and rule of law, reverse is now the case. To the extent that Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) (staunch defenders of the rule of law) now call for the suspension of rule of law in a democratic setting; likewise defense of illegalities by some, if not many of Nigeria’s foremost professors of criminology, constitutional and criminal laws as well as human rights activists, stomached by the Buhari Administration; Nigeria and its democracy are doomed.
“In all these, our questions to the Buhari Administration and its riotous DSS are: What is the difference between a mad man running amok with a sharp knife in a crowded market and a perceived sane man running behind and chasing him with another sharp knife in the same crowded market? Between two of them; who is insane and who is sane?”