The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has commended the Presidency for the suspension of the embattled duo of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. David Babachir Lawal, and Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Amb. Ayo Oke.
HURIWA in a statement on Wednesday by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, stressed that it has taken special note of the temporary punitive sanctions imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The rights group however, said that the suspension of Lawal and Oke “were not far-reaching enough”.
Besides, the pro-democracy body said particularly that the suspension of the Secretary to the government of the Federation after several months of his indictments by the Federal Parliament was ill-advised and has conveyed the impression of failed concerted attempts by the Presidency to grant him soft-landing even against the widespread calls for his dismissal and prosecution over the alleged financial scams trailing the awards of contracts for the rehabilitation of the destroyed North East of Nigeria.
The Rights group said the decision to set up a politically tainted and compromised probe panel to investigate matters within the jurisdictions of established financial crimes investigative institutions amounted to double standards and has conveyed the idea that there are two sets of legal models for investigations of members of the ruling party and another for the members of the political opposition and other category of Nigerians allegedly in conflict with the law.
“This approach is faulty and suspicious. This discriminatory application of different mechanisms to investigate alleged crime is a breach of the constitutional principle of Rule of law,” the statement read.
On the suspension Oke following his inexplicable role in the discovery of $43 million in a private Ikoyi residential apartment in Lagos, the Rights group applauded the President but dismissed the setting up of a three-man team of investigators made up of the Vice president, Yemi Osinbajo and the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN) and National Security Adviser as a political joke taken too far.
HURIWA also cautioned government not to use the three man team of investigators made up of members of the All Progressives Congress as a smokescreen and choreographed contraption to undermine the integrity of the investigation that ought to have been carried out statutorily by the Economic and Financial Crimes commission (EFCC) and the ICPC.
The statement read: “We are at a lost to understand the rationale for constituting an Adhoc investigative panel made up of politicians from one political party to investigate the mysterious stashing of the massive sum of $43 million in a private residence when the governor of Rivers state produced by another party- People’s Democratic party Mr. Nyesom Wike and a former Aviation minister Chief Femi Fani Kayode also of the opposition People’s Democratic party had alleged that the fund were diverted by the immediate past governor of Rivers State Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi who is a top flight national stakeholder of the ruling national party of All Progressives Congress (APC) and an influential kitchen cabinet member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration?”
“This panel will not be independent and non-partisan and therefore not expected to turn out any genuinely objective findings particularly on the Ikoyi $43 million. Mr. President would have set up a totally independent judicial commission made up of Justices of the Supreme Court found to be totally non-partisan and credible or refer the matters to the statutory bodies such as EFCC or ICPC”.
The group further urged President Buhari to dismantle the panel and refer both men to institutions set up for anti-graft investigation such as the Economic and Financial Crimes commission and the ICPC.
HURIWA recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered an investigation into the allegations of violations of law and due process made against Lawal, in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).
The Rights group however said “the terms of references of this panel shows that Mr. President has already made up his mind that indeed the fund found in the Ikoyi residential apartment belongs to NIA when it is clear that the Rivets State Governor, Nyesom Wike has made strong claims to the fund ($43million) as belonging to Rivers State government allegedly diverted by the immediate past Rivers State governor who is a serving minister.
“The panel is a nullity and can’t be trusted”.