Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on Tuesday condemned the continued detention of a former Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association chief, Mr Monday Ubani, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, without charge.
Falana, in a statement, demanded Ubani’s immediate release from the anti-graft agency’s custody, where he had been held since March 19.
The senior lawyer maintained that the detention of the ex-NBA chief and one Christopher Enai, for standing surety for a suspect who allegedly absconded, was unwarranted because the act did not constitute a criminal offence in Nigeria.
The condemnation by Falana came as the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Apo, Abuja, on Monday ordered substituted service of a contempt suit on the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, who was accused of disobeying the court’s order directing him to either release the two men or charge them to court.
The NBA had earlier condemned Ubani’s continued detention which it claimed violated a subsisting court order.
The EFCC had said it was detaining Ubani and Enai for standing as the sureties for Dr Ngozi Olojeme, said to be “a prime suspect in the N68bn NSITF fraud.”
But Falana said, “A Nigerian who stands surety for a criminal suspect commits no offence if the latter does not turn up for his or her trial.
“No doubt, Mr Ubani’s decision to stand surety for a client who has vamoosed has caused him untold embarrassment. But he has not contravened any provision of the penal statute.
“Hence, the EFCC has filed a motion pursuant to Section 180 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, praying the court to direct Mr Ubani to show cause why he should not forfeit his bond.”
Falana stated that EFCC must comply with an order of court granting bail to Ubani, whom he demanded should be released immediately.
He stated, “Having not charged Mr Ubani with any criminal offence whatsoever, the EFCC must comply with the order of the FCT High Court which has admitted him to bail without any further delay.
“Having filed a motion before the FCT High Court to show cause why he should not forfeit his bond, Mr Ubani’s detention by the EFCC cannot be justified under the ACJA or the EFCC Act.
“The EFCC should therefore release Mr Ubani without any further delay.”
JUSUN Strike: Governors, Speakers, Buhari’s CoS Meet
Representatives of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies, on Thursday, met with President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, in Abuja, over the ongoing nationwide strike of judiciary workers.
Speaking with State House reporters at the end of the meeting which held at Mr Gambari’s office at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, who is also the Deputy Chair of the NGF, appealed to the striking workers to call off their strike in the interest of the nation.
The governors along with the Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, had earlier postponed a meeting scheduled to be held with the leadership of the striking workers indefinitely on Thursday.
Judiciary workers had embarked on the indefinite nationwide strike on April 6 in protest against the denial of the judiciary of financial autonomy especially by state level.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Tambuwal told reporters that the governors had met with the speakers and the Chief Judges of various states, and would continue to engage the leadership of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria over the strike
“We’ve just finished talking to the Speakers, and indeed the State Chief Judges, and the Judiciary, to continue to engage and the Minister of Labour is also engaging with the striking bodies to appeal to them, to appreciate the fact that we have made progress.
“We’re appealing to them in the interest of this country, they should call off the strike”, he said.
According to the governor, a lot of progress had been made in the negotiations and hopefully the matter would be put to rest by next week.
“We’re here with the chairman and leadership of the Speakers’ Conference. The Solicitor General of the Federation, and SSA to Mr President on Niger Delta, who has been a member of the Technical Committee on the implementation of the autonomy of state legislatures and the judiciary.
“Together with the Chief of Staff to the President, we have just finished a meeting on how to put finishing touches and dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, on the final implementation of the financial autonomy of the state legislatures and the judiciary.
“We have made reasonable progress and we have agreed, after receiving the final report of the technical committee, to meet on Monday, because of the urgency of the matter and finally, resolve whatever issues are there,” he said.
He also expressed the commitment of those in leadership positions to build viable institutions for the country.
“Well, I can assure you that all of us are committed to building institutions, particularly our parliaments and the judiciary in our respective states, as democratically elected governors, and we are doing whatever it takes to make sure that the issues are resolved.
“As I told you before, some of the issues are constitutional and when matters have to do with the constitution, you have to be sure of what you’re doing that you’re actually following the Constitution,” he said.
Mr Tambuwal said the governors had always been in support of the autonomy of state legislature and judiciary.
He added, “From the very beginning, during the 8th Assembly, under the leadership of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Dogara, the NGF under Abdulaziz Yari then, met with them and supported the financial autonomy for the state legislatures and the judiciary.
“And that is why with that support, we were able to achieve the passage of this amendment by the National Assembly and the state legislatures across the country.
“So, the governors are unequivocally in support of the autonomy of these institutions.’’
JUSUN had scaled up its battle for financial autonomy after it obtained a court judgment affirming the constitutional provisions granting financial autonomy to the judiciary in January 2014.
In their bid to ensure compliance with the judgment, the workers embarked on a protracted three weeks nationwide strike in January 2015.
They had called off the strike after governors and other stakeholders made commitments to meet workers’ demands, pledges that were largely jettisoned.
Buhari Suspends Magu As EFCC Acting Chairman
Ibrahim Magu has been suspended as Acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by President Muhammadu Buhari, the BBC reports.
Magu spent the night in a police cell at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) Headquarters in Abuja.
Oshiomhole Rejects Supreme Court Verdict, Says No Govt in Bayelsa from Friday (Today)
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has rejected the judgement of the Supreme Court on the Bayelsa State governorship election.
He faulted the judgement while addressing a press conference in Abuja, shortly after the apex court sacked the candidate of the APC, David Lyon, as the governor-elect in Bayelsa.
The APC national chairman stressed that the implication of the judgement delivered by the Supreme Court was that nobody was qualified to be sworn in as governor of Bayelsa State.
“If as the Supreme Court has ruled, David Lyon cannot now be sworn in as governor and as the person who has the highest number of votes and the spread to be sworn in, it simply means from tomorrow (Friday) there will be no government in Bayelsa State,” he said.