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SERAP Seeks UN Help over Justice Odili Saga

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Justice Odili

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned the United Nations over what it described as a vicious assault on Justice Mary Odili.

SERAP in a petition dated November 13, 2021, by its deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare specifically urged Mr Diego García-Sayán, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers to “put pressure on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to conduct a credible, thorough, impartial, independent, transparent, and effective investigation into the vicious assault on Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili by rogue officials.”

SERAP also urged him to “ask the Nigerian government to ensure that any investigation into the assault is based on human rights principles and protected from undue influence. The outcome of the investigation must be made public, and the suspected perpetrators and their sponsors brought to justice.”

SERAP’s petition followed the recent invasion of Justice Odili’s Maitama, Abuja residence by armed personnel.

The organisation said: “The intimidation and harassment of Justice Odidi is a flagrant assault on judicial independence, and apparently aimed at further weakening judicial independence and the rule of law in Nigeria.”

SERAP said: “The unconscionable attacks against Nigerian judges would seem to be a deliberate attempt by the authorities to exert pressure on the judiciary and undermine its independence and authority. These attacks are putting Nigerians’ freedoms at risk.”

According to the body, “The current investigation by the Nigerian police fails to meet international standards, as it is neither independent nor effective. As such, the investigation is incapable of identifying all the suspected perpetrators and their sponsors, and credibly delivering justice in the matter.”

The petition, read in part: “We urge you to push for the adoption of a resolution by the Human Rights Council to establish an international, independent, and impartial investigative mechanism into the attack on Justice Odili, and other unresolved cases of intimidation and harassment of the judiciary, and assault on the rule of law in Nigeria since May 29, 2015.

“An international investigation into the cases of intimidation and harassment of judges in Nigeria will meet the highest international standards and best practices, and assist the Nigerian authorities to take steps to improve respect for the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, and access to justice for victims of human rights.

“If not urgently addressed, the attacks, intimidation and harassment of the judiciary may render judges unable to defend the rule of law, to provide accountability for the many gross human rights violations in the country, or to protect the rights of the Nigerian people.

“Nigerian authorities have a legal obligation to take measures to protect the independence of the judiciary and ensure the safety and security of individual judges.

“SERAP urges you to visit Nigeria to carry out a mission to investigate cases of intimidation and harassment of judges, assess the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law, and continue to monitor the situation.

“The proposed visit would help to support the efforts to bring Nigeria’s justice system in line with international standards, and free of political interference.

“Nigerian authorities continue to fail to thoroughly, impartially, independently, transparently and effectively investigate cases of attacks, intimidation and harassment of judges, the very people who protect and guarantee human rights.

“While the Nigerian authorities have arrested some of the suspected perpetrators, at least ten more persons reportedly involved in the assault on Justice Odili are still at large.

“Independence of the judiciary is enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], and under human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

“The attack on Justice Odili is not an isolated incident. There have been several violations of judicial independence and the rule of law in the country. In 2016, for example, Nigerian authorities reportedly invaded in the middle of the night the homes of some judges of the Federal High Court and Justices of the Supreme Court.

“The authorities have so far failed and/or refused to identify those suspected to be responsible and to bring them to justice.

“An independent judiciary is essential to the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law. The principles of independence are the hallmarks of the rationale and the legitimacy of the judicial function in every State. Their absence leads to a denial of justice and makes the credibility of the judicial process dubious.

“It is the principle of the separation of powers, together with the rule of law, that opens the way to an administration of justice that provides guarantees of independence and transparency.

“As expressed in the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, “Judicial independence is a prerequisite to the rule of law and a fundamental guarantee of a fair trial.”

“According to our information, on Friday, October 29, 2021, some people claiming to be soldiers and policemen, invaded the Abuja home of Justice Mary Odili. The perpetrators identified themselves as members of a government joint task force, and used a fraudulently obtained search warrant to attempt to gain access into Justice Odili’s residence.”

“The perpetrators claimed they had information that illegal activities were going on in the residence.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Sanwo-Olu Promises Justice for Sound Engineer David Imoh

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David Imoh Sound Engineer

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has promised to ensure that the late Sound Engineer killed by a mob in the Lekki area of the state last week gets justice.

The Governor gave this assurance through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, in a statement issued on Monday night.

Last week, after boarding a commercial motorcycle, an argument ensued between Mr David Imoh and the okada rider over N100 and attracted other riders, who then lynched him.

There have been calls for justice for the deceased and in the statement today, the state governor said this would be done.

He condemned the mob attack and said the police are interrogating four suspects at the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Panti in connection with the incident, while two survivors of the act are in hospital.

According to Mr Sanwo-Olu, the government will address the root cause of this and similar incidents, which have caused public anxiety, appealing to residents to remain calm as police continue to investigate the matter.

“Lagos has no room for savagery and anybody found to have been involved in this barbarism will surely face the law.

“We condemn and will not condone any kind of jungle justice, no matter who the perpetrators are,” the statement stressed.

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N80bn Fraud: EFCC Arrests Accountant General of the Federation Ahmed Idris

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ahmed idris

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Ahmed Idris, is cooling off in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He is having talks with the agency, explaining what he knows about an alleged diversion of N80 billion belonging to the federal government.

He was picked up by operatives of the EFCC on Monday, May 16, 2022, after allegedly failing to honour invitations by the commission to respond to issues connected to the issue.

In a statement issued on Monday night, the anti-money laundering organisation claimed that Mr Idris, through verified intelligence, “raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.”

“The funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja,” another part of the statement disclosed.

The AGF has been in the news lately over an audit report, which indicted some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the federal government of fraud.

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Curbing Illicit Financial Flows Needs Global Framework—Owasanoye

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Bolaji Owasanoye

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mr Bolaji Owasanoye, has rallied a global action against Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), including a call for a global framework on IFFs similar to corruption.

Mr Owasanoye made this call at a side event of the ongoing hybrid 54th Conference of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) taking place in Dakar, Senegal.

According to a statement issued by the ICPC’s spokesperson, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, the conference would focus on regional efforts to track, recover and return stolen assets from Africa through the IFFs.

She said that the meeting was attended by representatives of member countries of the Economic Community for Africa, heads of anti-corruption agencies and international bodies.

Addressing the meeting virtually, the ICPC boss emphasised the need for a global framework on IFFs as part of a determined commitment to tackle the menace.

“The challenge we found ourselves today is that the rules have always been skewed in favour of those who export capital and against those who import capital. Corruption is a global issue and we have a global framework for corruption.

“The IFFs is also a global issue but does not have a global framework.

“A way out of the problem is to institute a global framework on IFFs which, among others, will address the huge financial losses suffered by African countries,” the ICPC chairman stated.

He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war had complicated the financial resources of African countries, hence the need to tackle the IFFs and stop the further haemorrhage of the financial resources on the continent.

Further to the global framework on IFFs, Owasanoye also proffered legal and policy measures that should be implemented by African countries to address the IFFs risk.

These legal and policy measures, according to the ICPC boss include a review of agreements entered into with Multinational Corporations (MNCs), a review of inimical double taxation agreements.

Others are the enactment of laws, rules or regulations on unexplained wealth orders or lifestyle audits, introduction of civil forfeiture of assets and beneficial ownership standards; and design of a framework for trans-digital transactions.

The ICPC chairman also advocated tougher measures against corrupt state officials who collude with the MNCs against their countries.

“African countries must understand that the MNCs split contracts.

“The juicy parts of the contracts with MNCs are domiciled in their home countries while the non-juicy parts of the contracts are domiciled in Africa.

“We need to deal with the MNCs’ collaboration by government officials who look the other way in international agreements,” he said.

In her remarks, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Mrs Rebecca Grynspan, said the global economy was under enormous stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia–Ukraine war, and climate change.

She noted that IFFs posed a huge challenge to African countries in realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We are aware of the increasing rates which make it more difficult and harder for African countries to access finance.

“The African economies are also feeling the impact of the Russia – Ukraine war and thereby widening the financing gap.

“Africa requires US$2.45 trillion to meet its SDG financing gap. We can close half of the SDG financing gap for Africa if we are able to curb IFFs.

“We, therefore, cannot continue to allow the billions of dollars of IFFs slipping out of Africa every year,” she said.

She added that “The IFFs and Asset Recovery are more critical to Africa today. Both are required by African Countries to achieve the SDGs.”

She emphasised the need for data and collaboration among African institutions like Customs and Central Banks as a necessary condition for tracking the IFFs.

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