Adelani Adepegba, Oladimeji Ramon, Tukur Muntari
THE President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata, has expressed displeasure at the clampdown by government on the leaders of the #EndSARS protesters.
This was as advocacy group, Access to Justice, condemned the freezing of the bank accounts of 20 of the protest leaders by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The NBA president, in a post on his Facebook page, said the actions of the government were contrary to its earlier disposition.
Akpata wrote, “With all that’s going on in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests, lawyers are definitely not smiling! @djswitch_ has gone into hiding after receiving threatening phone calls, Moe Odele’s passport was seized and she has been prevented from travelling outside the country and Rinu Oduala and many others have had their accounts frozen by the CBN…this was not the deal.”
Access to Justice, in a statement on Sunday by its Convener, Joseph Otteh, described the freezing of the accounts of the #EndSARS protest leaders without a court order as an illegality.
“The CBN is transforming into a partisan political organ of the government and putting its vast regulatory powers into illicit partisan political uses for the purpose of suppressing the legitimate exercise of constitutional rights of freedom of speech and expression. This is appalling for a Central Bank for many reasons,” A2Justice said.
The organisation also expressed its disappointment in Justice A.R. Mohammed for agreeing to issue an order freezing the accounts without hearing from the protesters.
The group added, “Asking those caught and crippled by the order to apply to court for review after the order was made is like medicine after death. They ought to have been heard in the first place, before the order was made!”
‘Stop hounding protesters’
Meanwhile, a lawyer and former immigration officer, Daniel Makolo; and the Centre for Liberty have condemned the intimidation of #EndSARS protesters by the Federal Government, noting that security agencies have no right to hound the citizens for expressing their constitutionally-guaranteed rights.
Speaking with The PUNCH on Sunday, Makolo said it was wrong for the government to be the accuser and the judge in the case against the campaigners.
He said, “To restrict any citizen’s movement is guided by law; if it is not by the court or during national emergency or epidemic, detention or restriction of movement of anybody, it cannot be by the whims and caprices of the government.”
Makolo said the NIS did not have powers to seize a citizen’s passport without regards for the rule of law and a court order.
“The claims made by the NIS spokesman should be challenged because the immigration officers at the airport would take advantage of it to exploit the ordinary travellers as if they have the power to confiscate passports,” he said.
The CFL condemned the arrest of the protesters on the police in Abuja and accused the government of forming “an unholy alliance with the judiciary” to oppress Nigerians.
This was contained in a statement titled, ‘Release all arrested protesters now,’ signed by the CFL Co-Conveners, Adebayo Raphael, Adeyanju Deji and Ariyo-Dare Atoye.
Group tasks Ganduje to create inquiry panel
In a related development, the Kano Civil Society Forum has urged Governor Abdullahi Ganduje to establish a judicial panel of inquiry into the alleged SARS/police brutality of citizens in line with the directive of the Federal Government.
This was contained in a letter on Sunday addressed to the governor and jointly signed by the forum’s President and General Secretary, Ibrahim Waiya and Peter Tijani.