By Shakirudeen Bankole Adeshina
Nigerian Leaders and Elders Forum, comprising Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum. Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the Middle Belt Forum has expressed shock over last week’s attack on the National Assembly by armed policemen and DSS operatives.
The group, in a statement released on Sunday, also said it stands ready to join resistance to further attempts to destroy Nigerian institutions. The statement was signed by Yinka Odumakin (AFENIFERE); Dr Junaid Mohammed (NEF); Prof Chigozie Ogbu (OHANAEZE); Senator Bassey Henshaw (PANDEF) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (MBF).
The statement reads:
‘’The Nigerian Leaders and Elders Forum comprising Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and Middle Belt Forum (MBF) is in shock over the coup staged at the National Assembly on Tuesday 7th August 2018 when hooded DSS men shut down the complex and prevented lawmakers from gaining access for several hours. As mostly elder statesmen of this land, we must express our shock, and we must stand forth to resist any attempts by anybody to destroy this country.
‘’The gang invasion of the legislative arm of Nigerian government, the arm of government that constitutes the essence of democratic rule, exposed Nigeria to the whole world as a crude entity where political misfits ride roughshod over decency and all moral pillars have collapsed.
‘’We commend the lawmakers who stood firm to foil the coup with the active support of the civil society and the mass media who demonstrated very firmly that they were scandalized by the crude assault .
‘’We equally appreciate the international community,particularly the European Union(EU) and the USA for not putting their arms behind their backs when darkness fully descended over Nigeria and evil was on top momentarily.
‘’We must appreciate the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo who showed indignation at the barbaric act by firing the former Director General of the DSS, Mr Lawal Daura. Lawal Daura’s running of the secret police in the last three years has made the atrocities of the dreaded NSO of the military years to look like child’s play.
‘’However, we consider the dismissal of Daura as only a token in the circumstance. High treason was committed, and therefore the matter cannot and should not end with merely firing a public official. We demand that the planners and perpetrators of the invasion and sealing of the National Assembly Premises be investigated, tried and punished.
‘’We also reject any attempt to make the Inspector General of Police to investigate the crime.We have perused the wishy-washy interim report submitted to the Acting President by the IGP and the only thing we saw in it was the puerile deduction that there were political figures who colluded with Daura to carry out the crime.
Why We Reject IGP PROBE
‘’We cannot accept any probe by the IGP as he himself should long have been fired if this were a government that places any value on the rule of law. In case there are people who have forgotten, let it be remembered that:
* IGP Idris’s men did nothing but watched almost with amusement the day six thugs walked into the Chambers of the Nigerian Senate and made away with the mace. All the policemen in NASS could not get hold of any of the thugs.Hours later, Police shamelessly told the country that some police officers later found the mace under some bridge in Abuja!
* The Police under Mr Idris recently sealed the Benue State House of Assembly Complex in Makurdi and provided protection for 8 out of a 30-member Assembly to sit illegally to serve an impeachment on the Governor .
* There was no evidence that his men in the National Assembly lifted a finger during the invasion of NASS and indeed there were reports of police reinforcement for the illegal operation. These are matters that must be investigated.
We Demand a Judicial Probe
Given the enormity of this crime, we demand a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to be headed by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court with proven integrity to investigate this coup .There are cogent reasons for this demand :
* By virtue of Sections 145 and 146 of the 1999 Constitution the highest authority in the land on the day of the invasion was the Acting President who has described the invasion and sealing of NASS as “unauthorized”. Nigerians need to know the power “from above” which undermined the Acting President by illegally authorizing the desecration of our country’s Parliament .
* We refuse to accept that Daura woke up on the wrong side of his bed and, on his own, went and shut down the Nigerian NASS.He must have worked with co-conspirators, and these need to be unveiled by the Judicial Inquiry.To sack Daura as fall guy and do no more is merely papering over the cracks .All his co-conspirators have to be identified and made to stand trial with him.
*The reason why impunity has grown steadily in our country until it is now about to consume our country is that we have always predictably allowed vested interests to shield serious crimes, resulting in the fact that the hearts of powerful men among us are now commonly set to do iniquity. We elders of this country now say that enough is enough and that this country must now draw the line!
The invasion and sealing of the National Assembly Complex by men of the DSS has brought to a hideous climax the loss of dignity by Nigeria in the world. Nigeria has been treated with utmost contempt. We call on Nigerians to rise and defend the dignity of our nation by camping around this issue until a public inquiry is conducted and the perpetrators are brought to book.There comes a time when a people must say :ENOUGH! For Nigeria, it is that time now.
We equally appeal to the international community to take more than a passing interest in this matter and in the affairs of Nigeria from now on. If Nigeria continues as it is now doing unchecked, the forces of iniquity rolling Nigeria down-hill will roll Nigeria into a mighty cataclysm, and that will create perhaps the biggest bloodletting and refugee camp for the World to deal with on the African continent. The world can prevent such a disaster, The World must prevent it.
…..We Condemn the Freezing of the Accounts of Benue State and Akwa Ibom State by the EFCC.
The growing culture of impunity in Nigeria also saw the EFCC becoming a monster last week when the agency added a new feather to its cap of lawlessness by freezing the accounts of Benue and Akwa Ibom states without any court directing so.
We understand that the EFCC can freeze, with a court order, the accounts of persons that are linked with criminal activities, but we are at a loss as to how accounts of state governments can be treated as proceeds of crime. Obviously, political vendetta was at play here. Section 34.(1) of the EFCC Act says that the EFCC can apply to a court to freeze the “account of a person ” if ithe EFCC is satisfied that the money there is proceeds of crime. Did the EFCC act on the knowledge that the accounts of the two states contained proceeds of crime, and did the EFCC Chairman constitute himself into a court to take the action that was taken? Besides, does the EFCC Act empower EFCC to freeze accounts of the Federation or of any of the federating units? Furthermore, in the practice of Federalism, can a Federal Agency freeze the accounts of any federating units? Altogether, the action against the two states is therefore a continuation of the arbitrariness, impunity and disregard for the rule of law for which the present federal administration is well known.
We demand an end to this act of corruption of using agencies that should be independent in their operations to become political tools of victimization. We demand an end to the progression towards dictatorship under this government. We demand an end to government by intimidation and arm twisting.
The EFCC must issue an apology for this misconduct and desist from such vindictive action. The EFCC must begin to acknowledge, and act upon, the principle that the law expects it to be an impartial Agency and not the instrument of any person or party for intimidating political opponents. .
Lastly, we call on President Buhari to accept the fact that he was elected as President of Nigeria and stop running Nigeria as if he is a head of some secret junta.