From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Femi Falana, Human Rights Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has said that Nigerians are less than impressed with the government of President Mohammadu Buhari over his corruption war, saying the President’s war against corruption he boasted about at the beginning of his administration was used to deceive the people of the country.
While reacting to the state pardon recently extended to former governors of Plateau and Taraba States,
Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame respectively, Falana noted that the actions has further validated corruption in the country.
Falana made the statements in his hometown, Ilawe-Ekiti in Ekiti State during the 10th coronation anniversary of Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti, Oba Ajibade Alabi.
While noting that the fight against corruption has gradually collapsed under the present government, Falana lamented that those accused and established to have stolen public funds have been discharged and acquitted by the court through the deliberate frustration of their cases by office of the Attorney General, Abubakar Malam i(SAN), describing as unacceptable the reasons tendered by the federal government for releasing the two former governors.
“As far as the government is concerned, the pardon is just an extension of the policy of abandonment of the anti- corruption crusade. The government used the anti-corruption crusade to deceive Nigerians and as soon as the government got established, little by little, the whole anti-corruption collapsed.
“There are convicts in the nation’s correctional centres who are much older than the two former governors. By the way, the government has been giving different reasons for the pardon; we were told they are being released on compassionate ground, on heath ground and age ground but what is important is that the Buhari’s administration has abandoned the anti-corruption crusade.
“The pardon extended to the two former governors is an infinitesimal aspect of the abandonment of the anti-corruption crusade. There are those who have stolen billions of naira whose cases have been dropped or withdrawn from the courts by the Attorney General of the Federation(Abubakar Malami) who simply filed prosequi motions. There are others who were discharged and acquitted by courts on technical grounds, not that huge money was not stolen by them but the cases were compromised by the regime, while the suspects have been asked to go and enjoy their loot.”
Expressing his concerns for the possibility of having a credible election in 2023, amidst the security challenges in the country, the senior lawyer warned that if these challenges are not tackled, they may lead the nation into a more serious situation.
“Since many parts of the country have been taken over by terrorists it is difficult to talk of having credible elections next year. There are some states and several local governments that have been completely overrun by the terrorists.
“There is no way you can hold elections in such states and local governments. We are working towards a crisis which is going to lead to inconclusive elections if registered voters cannot exercise their franchise due to insecurity and negligence of the government. Whoever is declared winner will have problems because those who lose elections will insist that you must go and conduct elections in the areas where they are popular but which must have been taken over by the terrorists.”
Reacting to the views of a legal icon, Chief Afe Babalola who recently advised the federal government to set up an interim government, Falana said the federal government must address what triggered the call by Chief Babalola.
“While you may disagree with call for an interim government, you must at the same time address what has led to the call, which is the state of insecurity in the country. Apart from issuing press statements, the government does not bother about insecurity in the country, they issue statements from time to time and President Buhari will assure Nigerians of the safety and security of their lives and property but after that, we are waiting for the next attack.”
Describing as illegal the prices of nomination fees fixed by politcal parties, Falana condemned the development, adding that the outrageous nomination fees are not part of the criteria stipulated by the constitution for those seeking for elective positions.