Yakubu Shendam, a former National Youth President, in this piece, made available to NAOSRE, takes exemption to “Citizens Panel of Inquiry” headed by Femi Falana, SAN, and chaired by Obino Obiagwu, SAN.
His thoughts are presented below, unedited.
I read with dismay a publication in the media by the Alliance for Survival of Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) – a coalition of over 80 civil society groups, calling on Nigerians to submit memos detailing abuses of the recently disbanded Special Anti- Rubbery Squad, SARS, a unit of the Nigeria Police Force.
The ridiculous advert enjoins Nigerians especially families that lost loved ones and suffered any form of brutality to submit complains of their experience before, during and after the #ENDSARS protest to a purported “Citizens Panel of Inquiry” headed by the infamous Femi Falana (SAN) and to be chaired by one Obino Obiagwu (SAN). These so called complaints are to be submitted by even people whose cases are before government established tribunals of inquiry. This is indeed laughable.
Although, Nigerians have been unanimous in their desire to end police brutality and other ills, the attention generated by #Endsars protest amongst a particular set of people is suspicious. For instance, the prolonged ASUU strike that has kept our youths home for so long a time, the increase in petrol pump price and electricity tariff amongst other issues that the majority of Nigerians are not satisfied with have all gone without as much a word from many of the acclaimed civil rights activists who have ostensibly found a job from the #Endsars protest. These crop of individuals are increasingly becoming traders in human misery disguised as champions of human rights.
As a youth leader, I make bold to say that those who have been affected by police brutality are mostly youths and thus no one crave for an end to the ugly scenario than the youths. However, a situation where it thus appear that a certain group of persons have made themselves merchants thriving on controversies regardless of the effect on the country and its citizens is unacceptable and must be exposed and resisted.
In the past, rights activists clearly stood out for just causes and prosecuted them to the latter. The late Gani Fawehinmi was a human right lawyer per excellence who sincerely fought for the rights of the downtrodden and fought almost all the military regimes to usher in democracy and a better society for all. Similarly, the likes of Ken Saro Wiwa fought for the liberation of environmental degradation and exploitation of the oil rich Niger Delta region. May their souls rest in peace.Therefore, in as much as we value human rights activism it must not be mistaken for a trade or business.
To put the records straight, nowhere in the world has citizens taken the laws into their hands by playing the role of government in sensitive issues of national interest as Falana and his ASCAB are doing. Security of lives and property is the exclusive responsibility of the government and the present State and Federal governments are doing their best to safeguard lives and property. A panel of inquiry has already been set up by the Lagos State Government in the wake of the #Endsars protest. What exactly is Falana trying to achieve if not to discredit, embarrass and distract the government in partnership with his foreign collaborators and financiers through a kangaroo citizen panel set up without any recourse to the law? The era of hiding under bogus claims to prosecute elections and regime change is over. Using the 1996 NADECO style politics that worked during the military era to topple a democratically elected government will not work and must be stopped immediately.
Under the law, any case brought before a judge or a tribunal cannot be subject to further litigation in another court of law until the previous case has been settled. Falana’s attempt to usurp the powers of a tribunal backed by law to please his foreign sponsors and local politicians who are desperately seeking elections in 2023 has blinded him to this obvious legal ethics. Why ask citizens who have cases even with the State tribunal to submit same to your unofficial and treasonable tribunal? That smells of foul play and is highly unbecoming of an acclaimed vociferously accomplished lawyer.
Even in Class Actions, it’s illegal for a lawyer to go out canvassing for clients. The clients are to come to him. If Falana is looking for money, he should at least be smart enough to wait for the so called victims of SARS brutality to approach him for representation and redress before opening shop. What Falana and ASCAB are doing does not hold water especially now that we are running a democratic regime where the people are increasingly becoming conscious of his antics.
In a democracy, the National Assembly speaks for the people and not interest groups such as ASCAB. This is an effrontery that must not be entertained by any means. Any attempt to hide under #Endsars to disturb the peace and stability of the country and the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government must be resisted by all well meaning Nigerians.
The Nigerian security agencies especially the army must continue to be vigilant. The enemy is clearly from within. There are feelers that some moles are already mischievously scheming to take over the positions of the heads of security agencies and the service chiefs in a plot they referred tonas total overhaul of security architecture in Nigeria to give room for younger personnel to take over. The moles are already in to clandestine operations by hobnobbing with interested poticians and some civil societies who have been mobilised financially both within and outside the country to sustain the pressure and campaign of columny against the Nigerian state and specifically the leadership of the police and the armed forces of Nigeria for their selfish interests. There are reports, in the grapevine, of how few individuals particularly an ex governor are campaigning for particular individuals to succeed the current heads of security agencies. Large amount of funds is allegedly being shared to mobilise groups and individuals to stage a nation wide protest to seek for the unceremonious removal of the heads of security and the service chiefs who in all standards of fair minded human judgement have done well to secure this country from the evil plots by local and International groups and individuals to destabilize Nigeria and the government of president Muhammadu Buhari.
Instructively, it is incredible how someone could just wake up and set up a panel to investigate a national matter which is already a subject of a state judicial panel of inquiry. This could be an act of trying to instigate a national crisis with which the government can be clearly distracted or destabilised. What exactly is the motive behind Falana’s citizen’s panel of inquiry? What Falana is try to do is setting a dangerous precedent to the younger generation because someone can also dream and become halucinated to the point of waking up tomorrow and declare himself President and Commander in- Chief. Someone could as well set up an electoral tribunal and declare himself winner of an election against the constitutional government tribunals or create his own electoral body and conduct his/her own elections. This cannot be allowed to happen.
Falana’s role in several election tribunal cases is far from credible and as such Nigerians are aware that he is morally ineligible to parade himself as a moral judge or statesman. His sensational, if not insolubrious approach to issues of national security concerns such as the #Endsars crisis must be checked, his motives uncovered and exposed to forestall a breakdown of law and order in Nigeria. Nigerians deserve the right to know that NADECO, the Save Nigeria Group and ASCAB are all tactics of Mr Falana, his cohorts and sponsors aimed at distabilising the country and pushing his personal selfish agenda in his hallucinated permutation towards 2023 election. His present venture must therefore not be mistaken for patriotism but clear scheming, self aggrandisement which has the potential to sabotage our national unity and cohesion.
Aside a possible international financing and the political undertone of this shenanigan, it is allegedly reported by the Falanas that some over ambitious military personnel with selfish interests are willing to testify and present reports against the Nigerian Army and the police. Already, CNN and other divisive media outfits are waiting to give the panel wide coverage. This is clearly a grand plot against the Federal Government and her security agencies especially the Army which is seen as a key stumbling block against their plot. This machinations or grand scheme must be nibbed in the bud by all means.
The professional conduct of the Nigerian police, Nigerian army including Nigerian customs, Nigerian Prison Service and civil defence before, during and after the crisis is highly patriotic and commendable.
There are indications that the present antics of Mr Falana who has not seen anything good about the present adminstration allegedly because of his failure to clinch the office of Atorney General of the Federation as he expected, should be a wake up call to Nigerians and a clear revelation of who the real #Endsars protest sponsors are. Falana and his co-travelers must be called to answer pertinent questions about their ignoble involvement in the #Endsars protest.