The Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, South South Zone, is increasingly worried over the endless harassment/hounding of Nigerian citizens by security agencies, especially the EFCC and the DSS in a manner that leaves no room for the respect for the rule of law and due process. It is more worrisome that most of the people being hounded are believed to be members of the opposition, or people who may have been vocal in criticising President Buhari.
This has raised serious doubts over the genuineness and credibility of the much advertised war on corruption which seems to be the sole agenda of the Buhari led regime. People have been arrested and detained for many days on allegations of corruption without trial. Some were released after they were forced to pay huge amounts of money to the EFCC and the DSS. People like Femi Fani Kayode and Olisa Metuh were detained for over one month without trial, several others, including Nnamdi Kanu and El-Zak Zaky are still languishing in detention months after their arrests, even after court had ordered their release. The latest victim of the EFCC’s endless selective game of intimidation is the former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives and a Niger Delta prince, Hon Chibudom Nwuche, who was reportedly arrested few days ago and is still being detained without trial.
We are not opposed to any form of campaign against corruption, but such campaigns must be genuine, non-discriminatory, impartial and must follow due process and the rule of law which considers a suspect innocent until proved otherwise. Targeting people believed to be on the bad books of the president or people from an unfavoured section of the country for harassment, while those in the good books of the government who have looted public funds massively are still enjoying government patronage and security protections is condemnable and unacceptable, as nepotism and favouritism are manifestations of corruption. We recall EFCC bluntly refused to arrest certain persons despite public outcries over their massive plundering of public funds. Buhari even rewarded such persons with ministerial appointments.
Magu the EFCC boss and the EFCC have been carrying on as if there is no law or constitution. They have demonstrated utter disdain for due process and the rights of individuals guaranteed under the Constitution. In its operations, EFCC carries itself as the law, the court, the complainant and the judge. When they capture their targets, they would dump them in jail and rather than charging them to court, they would simply subject them to unfair media trial. Those arrested by EFCC are treated like criminals who have already been found guilty by EFCC the court.
The Constitution is clear about the liberty of suspects, and indeed, all nigerians. It is unconstitutional to detain anyone for more than 24 or 48 hours without charging the person to court. It is also wrong to just arrest people and clamp them in detention and then begin to fish for evidence to prosecute them.
We demand that EFCC and other security agencies of the government must follow due process and observe the rule of law.
We demand that all the people languishing in EFCC and other security detentions, including Nwuche, should be released or charged to court of competent jurisdiction.
Magu, the EFCC and other security agencies should be called to order as they are constituting themselves into a serious threat to nigeria’s fledgling democracy.
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