Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has warned against politicising the case of the suspects arrested in connection with the recent dastardly Offa, Kwara State, bank robberies, where many people were killed.
Rather, he said the state must ensure that the “law takes its course irrespective of who is implicated,” adding that the case must be used as an opportunity to disarm all thugs in the country.
Falana said this at a civil society round-table discussion organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda in Lagos.
The round-table discussion centred on the challenges of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and the abolition of stay of proceedings in criminal trials.
Falana spoke alongside Messrs Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Monday Ubani and Jiti Ogunye, at the discussion chaired by Dr Biola Akiode-Afolabi.
The Chairman of HEDA, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, in his welcome address, noted that the round-table discussion became necessary to counter the opposition to the ACJA.
Falana, who was the lead speaker, noted that 419 (advance fee fraud) once gave Nigeria a bad image around the world.
He recalled specifically how a Brazilian bank collapsed after being defrauded to the tune of $240m by a Nigerian and in its bid to recover the money, the bank engaged the services of 11 lawyers from around the world, including him (Falana).
He said, “They came to me among the 11 lawyers. How do we collect this money? How do we go about it? It was very difficult because the police here then were part of the criminality. The main fellow that was to be arrested, the EFCC arrested him in the guest house of the IG.
“We are looking for a criminal and he is being sheltered by the IG; just like you are looking for the vehicle with which a bank was robbed and you find it in the state house. That is the level of impunity in our country. And some people are shouting this is political victimisation; nonsensical!
“Please, I beg all of us, let us separate criminality from politics. Wherever a criminal is identified, the law must have its way; the full weight of the law must be brought on the person. Otherwise, you may be a victim tomorrow if we don’t eliminate criminality in this society.
“They reported in Ekiti last week during a rally and this is a common thing in Nigeria and I do hope we are going to use the Offa case to disarm all thugs in Nigeria. All of them are known by the DSS and the police.”
Falana recalled how under a previous regime, killing of political opponents were the order of the day, noting that a former Attorney General of the Federation was a victim.
The SAN also called for caution in the creation of state police, arguing that it would be abused by governors, who, according to him, were already demolishing the houses of even their party members on account of some differences.
Meanwhile, the Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi, has said the community is interested in the law taking its course against those who unleashed mayhem and violence against his people during the recent robbery attacks in his domain.