The unfolding drama involving the trio of Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the $2.1 billion meant for the procurement of arms for the military has thrown up many mind boggling revelations.
ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke with legal practitioners and rights activists who looked through the lenses of the law and gave us the legal implication of the retired Colonel and his accomplice action…
‘If Dasuki had been allowed to travel out of the country, he would have gone there and stayed back’’
-LANRE SURAJU, rights activist
It’s not surprising for some of us who have been involved in the fight and advocacy against corruption. We’ve cried out loud in recent past to expose how the immediate past regime of President Jonathan went about mis-managing the economy of the country and how due process was completely confined to the dustbin. The only challenge for us is the role some hired media houses, individuals and lawyers are playing in assisting these characters who have bastardised our economy, our heritage and our integrity as a nation.
The worrisome situation now is that it is obvious many of our lawyers, especially the senior ones, are not in any way in agreement with the fight against corruption that the whole country is committed to now.
I’m sure there’s still a whole lot to be revealed and a whole lot of people to be indicted.
On the whole cry about detention and the rest of that; the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act actually empowers the magistrates and high court to grant orders to the law enforcement agencies and the police to detain people beyond 48 hours on the ground of suspicion and the need for further investigation. It is not anything new at all. If Dasuki had been allowed to travel out of the country, he would have actually gone there and stayed back. You saw what Diezani did. For them, it is just an attempt to run out of the country to temporarily save them. And that would ultimately hamper the investigation of the law enforcement agency.
It is actually a big shame that personalities like Dokpesi, Nduka Obaigbena who should be models in the society and who have the platform to change things, unfortunately not only supported but were parties to the lawlessness of the past regime. It is painful, it is heartrending. We should never have this happen in the country again.
The government must ensure that all those involved in this criminal act are duly prosecuted, and there shouldn’t be any sacred cow. They should all face the full wrath of the law. Even if it involves spiritual (religious) leaders, traditional rulers or whoever that were involved in this financial misappropriation.
The way forward from here is that the judiciary must be up and doing, very important. The bar association has the duty to rein in its senior members who are in alliance with people alleged of corrupt practices, with the act of seeking all manner of injunctions to hinder the process of prosecution. Even though the law says they are to defend their clients, but it should never be against the interest of the state and the public. You only defend your client from being unjustly treated within the system. It is not for you to defend your client in his or her attempt at injuring the collective interest of both the state and systems of the country. That is exactly what they are doing, they would do everything to circumvent the court of justice in the interest of their client. That is not the intent of the practice and the law.
Also, Nigerians must understand that there is the need to retrace our steps and get the country back on track. The country has completely derailed, and we have a duty to bring it back on track. The media, too must both set the agenda and inform the people appropriately concerning the national rebirth that is necessary in the country.
‘It’s people like Dasuki that empowered the Boko Haram sect’
– MOHAMMED FAWEHINMI, legal practitioner
I think it is very disgraceful for the former National Security Adviser (NSA) to be involved in such a deal. I say this because this was a man who advised the president on security, and we all know we are in a serious terrorism war.
He deceived everyone, made us believe he was going to buy weapons on behalf of the country, whereas he was merely enriching his pocket along with those of several people.
I think they should be charged and convicted if the evidence against them is overwhelming.
Personally, I think it’s people like this that actually empowered the Boko Haram sect because if they had done what they were meant to do and the weapons were within the reach of our soldiers, I don’t think Boko Haram would have gained as much ground as it did. But because they failed in their duties, they allowed the terrorists to gain ground, and in the process made many Nigerians lose their lives and the country lost a portion of her territorial sovereignty. They should not escape conviction.
I think the process should have been faster, but I can’t blame the judges involved as they are the ones adjudicating and they have to consider every fact and evidence before them. No matter what, we have to give them the benefit of doubt. I think it is unfolding well enough, provided those involved remain in custody.
They should be given the maximum sentence and they should be stripped of everything they used to enrich themselves, because their actions are in violation of Section 15 (sub section 5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They are the chieftains of corruption in this country, and what others have seen them do, they will follow, which is why the country is the quagmire we are now.
‘The revelation is mind blowing’
– GABRIEL ONOJASON, legal practitioner
As things stand now they are still innocent, that’s until the prosecution is able to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt and the court affirms them guilty. But until then, they remain innocent.
Be that as it may, the revelation is mind blowing. As a matter of fact, if those things are true, it shows you the extent of corruption in the last administration. And shows you that there are still a lot of leakages that need to be plugged.
It is unheard of for the National Security Adviser (NSA) to become the chief procurement officer, such that the NSA becomes the financial secretary of the Federal Government, disbursing money to anybody he or she feels like.
Besides, this is money appropriated for the purchase of arms, diverted to other things. That equals what we call breach of trust, misappropriation of money; money meant for A, been used for B.
You would recall also that soldiers were court martialled for running away from battle fronts. Some of these soldiers were condemned to death, whereas they were punished for what they had no hand in.
They had no weapons to fight, and the money appropriated for the weapons was diverted to prosecute election on behalf of the previous government. It is not a good image for our country.
Again, it is an abuse of public trust by those officials. And it also proves that as a country, we still have a long way to go. In all of these, we are hopeful that the court would be able to do their work very well. And if anybody is found guilty, regardless of his or her status, let the appropriate punishment be meted out to them. The fear of most people is that the court will not be able to dispense justice due to opposition application here and there. But we remain hopeful that the prosecution have done their investigation very well and we hope they’ll be able to sustain the charges they brought against these people in court.
- MICHAEL NWOKIKE