A pro-democracy and non-governmental body – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to stop forthwith the choreographed media persecution of immediate past governor of Ekiti state – Mr. Peter Ayodele Fayose.
The group has also carpeted the anti-graft body and the court that purportedly granted the extra-legal remand order against ex-governor Fayose which purports to support the extra-constitutional detention of the outspoken member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) beyond the constitutionally stipulated timeline. HURIWA says EFCC’s maltreatment of Ex-governor Fayose smacks of vindictiveness since there was no reason for this prolonged detention of someone on whose matter this same EFCC has dwelt on for over 5 years. Besides, HURIWA praised Fayose for turning himself in even when he had all the opportunities as a holder of constitutional immunity up until October 15th 2018 to escape from Nigeria under the guise of foreign investments drive ad a governor of Ekiti state as he then was.
In the same vein, HURIWA has condemned the spread of hate filled messages and perceptions by some Nigerians on the social media about the erstwhile governor of Abia state Chief Orji Uzor Kalu who is undergoing prosecution by EFCC over alleged financial infraction when he was Abia state governor between 1999/2007. HURIWA has exonerated ex-governor of Abia state of any blame in the delay that his trial has lasted but has criticized the EFCC for shopping for additional charges against Orji Uzor Kalu at a time it was becoming clearer that the Prosecuting team lacks tangible evidence of crime to nail the former governor to any of the initial charges which made the panicky EFCC to go fetching for dozens of additional charges.
The Rights group has also condemned the anti-graft commission for unduly padding up charges many years after the former Abia state governor was dragged to court just as the Rights group has tasked the EFCC to end the prosecution which is gradually becoming a choreographed persecution since it looks like there are no convincing and strong enough evidence linking Chief Kalu to the same charges which have just been increased to 39 from the initial 34.
Specifically on the case of ex-governor Ayo Fayose, HURIWA accused the anti-graft body of allowing itself to be deployed as an attack dog of the president who has consistently come under heavy criticisms by the immediate past Ekiti state governor and one of the most courageous opposition leaders of modern day Nigeria. HURIWA asked Nigerians to speak out in total condemnation of the gradual conversion of an otherwise noble national anti-graft institution to the armed attacking wing of the ruling All Progressives Congress of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The public conducts of the operatives of EFCC against ex-governor Fayose are despicable, reprehensible and condemnable because these spiteful and hate-filled treatment of the Ekiti State former governor even when he was the governor has depicted the EFCC as a highly partisan body which is being used to witch-hunt perceived opposition elements.”
HURIWA wondered why the EFCC did not grant administrative bail to Mr. Ayo Fayose who had voluntarily reported himself to the office of EFCC even when the likes of erstwhile secretary to the government of the federation Mr. Babachir Lawal indicted in alleged theft of almost a billion naira from North East reconstruction fund was never detained. HURIWA accused the EFCC of looking the other way whilst the First lady’s chief security detail allegedly stole N2.5 billion from the first lady and wife of President Muhammadu Buhari. Why is the EFCC not going after this heinous crime of corruption that unfolded in the home of the President?
“The open and naked partisanship of EFCC against former Ekiti state governor has denied him his constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing as provided for in section 36 (1) of the Nigerian constitution which states thus: “In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.” The Rights group accused the EFCC of deploying friendly mass media practitioners and partisan media owned by topflight chieftain of APC to engage in the spread of fake news and propaganda to portray ex-governor Fayose in bad light so as to pollute the mind of the judges that may adjudicate the matter when it gets to the court of competent jurisdiction.
HURIWA carpeted the Ibrahim Magu – led EFCC for playing to the gallery to please president Buhari by not allowing ex-governor Fayose to proceed on bail so as to prepare for defence of any charges that maybe instituted by EFCC even as the constitution has in section 36 (5) states that: “Every person charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until he is found guilty.”
“We hereby condemn the resort to self-help measures as employed by EFCC with the connivance of some friendly judicial officers who clearly violated section 35 (4) of the constitution which spells out that: “Any person who is arrested or detained in accordance with subsection 1 (c) of this section shall be brought before a court of law within a reasonable time” even as subsection 5 states as follows; “In subsection (4) of this section, the expression “a reasonable time” means – in the case of an arrest or detention in any place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of forty kilometers, a period of one day; and in any other case, a period of two days or such longer period as in the circumstances may be considered by the court to be reasonable.” HURIWA said detaining Fayose beyond two hours or a day was extra-legal and is a show of political force to punish him for holding very strong opinions on the leadership style of the incumbent President who is enjoying the partisan endorsement of the EFCC’s acting head who wore Buhari’s campaign lapel badge publicly during the inauguration of the multibillion Naira worth expansive headquarters of EFCC.
HURIWA has also condemned the hate messages targeting former governor of Abia state Chief Orji Uzor Kalu regarding his ongoing trial just as the group reminded Nigerians that the constitution is very clear that anyone who is being prosecuted is totally innocent until a contrary determination is reached by a court of competent jurisdiction.
HURIWA recalled that in one of the charges, the EFCC alleged that Kalu, who was Abia state governor between 1999 and 2007, “did procure Slok Nigeria Limited – company solely owned by you and members of your family – to retain in its account, domiciled with the then Inland Bank Plc, Apapa branch, Lagos, an aggregate sum of N7, 197,871,208.7 on your behalf.”
The prosecution claimed that the N7.1bn “formed part of the funds illegally derived from the treasury of the Abia State Government and which was converted into several bank drafts before they were paid into the said company’s account.”
The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said the ex-governor violated Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, and was liable to be punished under Section 16 of the same Act.
Kalu has denied all these charges and given evidence to show that he was already a very wealthy man before venturing into politics just as it was reported that he even contributed N100 million to the campaign of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo with whom he later fell apart that resulted in the ongoing trial.