HURIWA tells IGP to arrest EFCC boss, send him to Kuje prison immediately
Asks FG to remove outrageous excise duty & declare national economic emergency on rising food prices
Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) has backed the call for the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, to immediately enforce the Tuesday order of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja committing the Chairman of the economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, to Kuje correctional facility for contempt of court, pending the setting aside of the order.
HURIWA equally faulted the EFCC’s statement on Wednesday that Bawa had approved the immediate release of the Range Rover and the sum of N40 million in compliance with the November 2018 court order, insisting that by so doing, the Chairman of the anti-graft agency was still acting in contempt of the court as he should be at a correctional facility and in no position to function or sign any document as the Chairman of the agency pending the vacation of the court order.
It also expressed worries over Bawa’s response to National Assembly correspondents, Tuesday, that the law would take its course, stressing that the course of law for now is that he should be in Kuje prison as a new convinct and should have no business with the arm of government responsible for law making, which is the legislature.
HURIWA’s call, which is contained in a statement released by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, on Wednesday, comes on the heels of the position of a legal practitioner Mr. Maxwell Okpara, who said that Bawa remained a convict until the court order was vacated.
Fielding questions during the Wednesday edition of Political Platform, a Raypower Radio programme, Okpara had said, “I want Nigerians to know that the person, who is occupying the position of the EFCC Chairman as we speak now is an ex-convict. I am telling you that as we speak now, our Chairman of the EFCC is an ex-convict and whatever documents he signed between yesterday and today, all those documents are a nullity because an ex-convict cannot sign all those documents.
“That particular order convicting him has not been set aside and until it is set aside, he stands as an ex-convict. There is no order to stay. There is no motion to stay.
“He inherited that office from somebody. He received handover notes. He received the cases that were pending in courts. He received the orders that had been made before the courts. But he chose the ones that he would obey and the ones that he would not obey. And he did not go to court to explain himself.
“Once an order of court is made, whether rightly given or wrongly given, it stands to be the order until it is set aside.
“The point I am making is that one of the criteria for occupying the position of the Chairman of the EFCC is that you must not be an ex-convict. As we speak now, he is expected to step aside.
‘The budget defence he did at the National Assembly yesterday is also wrong. In fact, I am conducting a research as we speak now and probably by Monday, I will approach the court.
“As at the time Bode George was pursuing his case, he was still at Kirikiri maximum prison until the Supreme Court set it aside. Orji Uzo Kalu was there in Kirikiri prison until the court set aside the order convicting him.
“But as for the EFCC, Department of State Security, Police, and others, when you serve them a court order, if you write them a letter, they would say they are still reviewing it. A police constable would tell you that we are still reviewing a court’s judgment. So, I think this is a wakeup call”.
Commenting on the calls for respect for the rule of law, HURIWA said: “The excuses by the EFCC that its chief executive Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa was not in office when the court order was handed down on 27th November 2018 does not make sense. Are they trying to say the Bawa, who has by the way been part and parcel of the Commission since inception, was not aware of the order or did not receive any handover note?
“The truth is that the non-compliance with the November 2021 order for four good years is perceived in many quarters as true to the character of the EFCC and other law enforcement agencies. The EFCC is been accused of been unfortunately reduced to a tool for political witch-hunt and the disregard for the rule of law is a norm, not an exception to them.
“This hydra-headed monster of selective application of the law, depending on the political alignment and sometimes the region and religion of the person in question, will continue to hunt the agency until it turns a new leaf. We expect that the young man heading the EFCC shouldn’t continue the trajectory of reckless disobedience of court orders that his predecessors were notorious for.
“We therefore call on the IGP to enforce the law and enjoin the rest of the law enforcement agencies who are fond of exalting themselves above the laws of the land to learn from Bawa’s fate. EFCC Chairman should also on his own volition report at Kuje prison if the IGP has disobeyed the Court order and failed to do the needful by conveying him to the prison premises pending the hearing and determination of his application for stay of execution.”
In another development, HURIWA’s Onwubiko, on Wednesday, asked the Federal Government to remove multiple taxation and the 10 per cent excise duty placed on carbonated drinks which is forcing
manufacturing companies and factories to shut down and relocate to neighbouring countries like Ghana and Benin Republic with friendly business climate.
Onwubiko, in a statement, said Nigeria’s economy is crumbling under President Muhammadu Buhari as all his so-called National Economic Council led by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has blatantly failed Nigerians as it has not delivered any prosperity to Nigerians in about eight years now.
The group said though Buhari promised to uplift millions of people from the poverty bracket when he campaigned for office in 2015, the retired major general has done exactly the contrast of what he promised as the shallow economic decisions of his government have plunged millions of Nigerians into poverty with the unemployment rate standing at 33.3%, meaning about 23 million agile and active adult Nigerians are jobless.
Members of the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) recently reflected the growing job loss due to multiple taxation and other crippling business conditions by the Federal Government when they lamented that more than 5,000 employees in the sector have been sacked within eight months in 2022.
This is as the group said plans have been have concluded by beverage companies to leave Nigeria and relocate their factories to neighbouring West African countries where production cost is lesser and the finished products will be brought back to Nigeria to sell.
Commenting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “It is so unfortunate that all indices of economic development are in red and the levels of unemployment and poverty, hunger have ballooned out of control and it is so clear that there is a disconnect the economic team of President Buhari if they are indeed still in existence.
“It is evident that the soaring prices of diesel, cooking gas, electricity tariffs and the general sources of energy make it difficult for businesses to thrive in Nigeria. Yet, the government is insensitive by imposing multiple taxations and unthinkable excise duties to further burden businesses who are supposed to be encouraged to keep providing jobs for citizens as government has no job anywhere.
“With inflation rate at a new 17-year high of 20.77% in September 2022 and food inflation at 23.34%, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, prices of food and essential commodities have skyrocketed to more than 100% in some cases. In fact, N1,000 can hardly buy a loaf of bread while the prices of tubers, pepper, garri, cassava, rice and other grains which are staples of the common man have shot beyond the roof!
“The situation has since gone from bad to worse with the flooding that has ravaged over 20 states across the Federation, washing away thousands of hectares and acres of farmlands. The situation has since moved from worse to worst with the planned redesign of the N1,000, N500 and N200 notes money hoarders, who don’t want to take their money to bank, troop into markets and purchase the foodstuffs in bulk, thereby creating a higher-bidder scenario and artificial scarcity which is totally avoidable in the first place if the government is reasonable in its economic approach and avert the impact of flooding on farmers.
“Naira is falling in value to the dollar and the CBN is bent on redesigning the Naira at this time with a very short timeframe and just a few days to election thereby fueling currency speculation with the Naira being one of the worst currencies on the globe at the moment. This is tragic more so because the finance ministry and apex bank are working at cross purposes thus compounding the economic adversities affecting millions of Nigerians.
“The Federal Government must take steps to avert the total collapse of the economy of Nigeria because if the economy collapses then constitutional rule and democracy will inevitably collapse. The government must build back the confidence of manufacturers by removing burdensome taxes and duties, incentivise businesses with tax breaks to retain them in Nigeria, amongst others. check the government’s assisted massive thefts of crude oil resources and financial leakages in the system fueling general condition of economic paralysis.
“The sustainable economic repair and engineering work must include stabilising the value of the Naira. The situation is catastrophic and demands a national economic emergency to be declared. All hands must be on deck. Nigeria must never be made to become a basket case because if the National economy is allowed to continue to witness unrestrained free fall, then before long, millions of Nigerians may become refugees and in that case,even all of the African continent can’t accommodate the millions of distressed Nigerians that will be forced to exit Nigeria. This is why Nigerians from all around the World should mount pressure on World leaders to make it known to President Muhammadu Buhari that even his and his family members won’t be welcomed to the West if his diabolical policies and voodoo economic agenda leads to the collapse of Nigeria. This rapid speed to cave in to the precipice of self destruction and destabilisation must be arrested immediately”.