Again, hundreds of CSOs protest ‘continued disrespect for rule of law, citizen’s harassment’

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The activists condemned the fact that the EFCC chairman failed to provide any documentary evidence of an official invitation sent to former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, yet the Commission declared him wanted and had subjected him to “unprecedented and reckless media trials despite a subsisting Court order which protected him at the time they laid a siege on his residence.”

They alleged that the EFCC-Bello saga appeared like a case of selective hatred targeted at an individual for no concrete cause.

The movement, led by the Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, Debo Adeniran, many frontline Anti-Corruption and human rights crusaders, said this in Lagos.

The activists addressed a press conference before staging a protest rally.
Adeniran called on the younger ones in the mix to rise up and become activists if they were not acitivists already, saying that a society where fundamental human rights were not obeyed and rule of law broken by enforcement agencies could not stand the test of time.

The activists said it was sad that the agency had so much thrown away professionalism but playing to the gallery on a daily basis without any legal substance other than the threats and application of brute state force, irrespective of what the court says.

They said they would be in the struggle for as long as it would take the EFCC to follow due process, alleging that, from the consistent attack on Bello, despite being protected by the law, his life might be in danger.

The human rights crusaders lambasted the Chairman of the EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, saying that his pronouncement on Tuesday, where he admitted, during an interview with journalists in Abuja, that he put a call through to the former governor, was a clear evidence that EFCC did not formally invite Bello regarding the accusation.

Condemning the Commission for its alleged penchant for disregarding due processes of law, the civil groups pointed out that the approach by the anti-graft agency was becoming alarming, and that EFCC should be held in contempt of court for disobeying court order.

The coalition said, “The statement of the EFCC Chairman yesterday (Tuesday) whereby he admitted that he put a call through to the former Governor is a clear testimony that the EFCC never formally invited the man.

“The EFCC chairman failed woefully to provide any documentary evidence of an official invitation sent to Yahaya Bello, yet you declared him wanted and have subjected him to unprecedented and reckless media trials despite a subsisting Court order not to harass him.

“It is the exact protection of the court that he sought that the EFCC has wantonly broken multiple times. How do you now expect him to entrust himself to the custody of an agency that has so much thrown away professionalism but playing to the gallery on a daily basis without any legal substance other than the threats and application of brute state force irrespective of what the court says.

“A bad order or ruling or injunction or even judgment can be vacated, appealed, and upturned on the merit of the case by a superior Court. But, until that is done, the subsisting order or ruling must be respected and obeyed. As at when they laid siege at 8am and everyone watched live, that interim order was still subsisting.

“In essence, the EFCC has not only disobeyed a lawful Court order but has broken it and, therefore, stands in contempt and must be treated as such. There are no two ways about it.

“We are not lawyers, but we understand the rudimentary processes of adjudication which unequivocally states that a yet unvacated order stands effective until vacated. We also know that both state and federal High Courts are of coordinate jurisdiction. But we’ve heard lawyers moved by emotions and not the letter and spirit of law argue that because Yahaya Bello got a restraining order on the EFCC from a Kogi State High Court, that order is untenable. Sometimes you wonder why some lawyers approbate and reprobate at the same time.”

“The continuing threats of violence in apprehending the former Governor is uncalled for. All you need do is vacate your restraining order and invite the man. If he doesn’t show up, at that point you can get him arrested. But as of the time of the siege, no formal invitation had been extended to him,” the CSOs added.




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