By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
A Statement By The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) Condemning The Practice of Setting Free Detained Boko Haram and Their Reintegration Into Their Communities By President Muhammadu Buhari, while Their Victims Are Being Denied Justice, And Describing As Unjust the Judicial System That Allegedly Sentenced gang members of the dreaded kidnapper- Evans; The Billionaire Kidnapper, But The Same System is Been Sabotaged and Undermined to Let Armed Fulani Herdsmen and kidnappers including bandits in the North West to go scot-free.
This statement is induced by the unjust and undermining scenarios playing out in our nation’s judicial system which has seen the politicization of justice in Nigeria in recent times.
Since the past two days, there have been media speculations that a Lagos State High Court has sentenced the notorious kidnap kingpin; Chikwudubem Onwuamadike, also known as Evans, to death.
According to the speculations, The Lagos State Government had said Evans conspired on February 14th, 2017 at about 7.45pm at Ilupeju, Lagos, to kidnap one Donatus Dunu and collect €223,000 for his release.
It would be recalled that Evans, who was arrested in June 2017 was arraigned on a two-count charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping. According to the police, Evans managed to escape arrest for seven years and was however, arrested after a police special squad caught up with him at his No. 3, Fred Shoboyede Street, Magodo, Lagos home.
The kidnap kingpin having reportedly confessed to being responsible for many high-profile kidnap cases in many states of the country, especially Lagos State, also confessed to earning money running into billions of naira from his unlawful activities, having charged some of his victims up to $1 million each as ransom.
The speculations around the so called death sentence on the notorious Billionaire kidnap kingpin; Evans coupled with the interest and applause it has generated even when it is doubtful that he has indeed been sentenced, goes to show that Nigerians want some kind of stringent legal punishment for offenders and justice to victims.
However, this public sentiments and demands are not being met by the government or, which has been sectional in the war against crime and has continued to pardon terrorists packaged deceptively as repentant terrorists and the sabotaged and undermining of the justice system to let Armed Fulani Herdsmen and kidnappers including bandits in the North West to go scot-free. In Kaduna state the govermor even confessed to compensating armed Fulani herdsmen to stop attacking Southern Kaduna State.
Perhaps the only reason for the fastracked death sentence on Evans if indeed he has been convicted the news which is unprovable abd remains speculative, is because of his religion and ethnicity. This is because the Taraba kidnapper and his soldiers collaborator are about getting soft landing from the Attorney General of the Federation who failed to arraign the Army captain and other soldiers who took part in the killing of 3 policemen who arrested the Taraba kidnapper.
Bala Hamisu Wadume, the Taraba Kidnapper was arrested August 6, 2019 by a team of anti-crime police officers in Ibi, Taraba state as a result of his alleged involvement in numerous heinous activities in the state. He was being taking to Jalingo, the state capital, when soldiers manning a checkpoint along the road opened fire on the police team, killing three officers and two civilians.
It is difficult to imagine that Nigerian soldiers could aim at a moving vehicle, kill three police officers and two civilians guarding a kidnap kingpin, without a scratch on the handcuffed suspect. However in a more dramatic twist, the suspect was freed from the handcuff against all logical reasoning and allowed to escape before he was re-arrested two weeks after by the police. In his confession, he reportedly implicated soldiers in the deadly escape.
Following public outcry, an expansive investigation was launched to unravel the culprits behind the violence, amidst allegations that soldiers of 93 Battalion, Takum, Taraba and top local police officers connived in the fatal operation to prevent Wadume’s arrest.
Upon conclusion of the investigation and the bid to commence the trial, the Attorney General of the federation; Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) allegedly took over the process from Taraba State government and dropped the names of the indicted soldiers.
Secondly, we have observed with disappointment the huge resources being committed to de-radicalize and rehabilitate alleged repentant Boko Haram fighters by the federal government, while millions of their victims are still languishing in deplorable IDP camps.
The amnesty for Boko Haram, which involves setting free detained Boko Haram members and their reintegration into their Communities while their Victims are being denied justice has been trailed by stiff opposition. Jail is where criminals get rehabilitated but it appears these ‘repentant’ Boko Haram member were never even charged to court. This unconstitutional practice is puttung our soldiers at risks because freeing detained terrorists is same as providing more recruitment grounds for the deadly Islamic terror networks.
Many victims of Boko haram insurgency have reiterated their opposition in accepting back into their communities, prospective rehabilitated ex-insurgents. Most recently, Senator Ali Ndume came up to criticise the Federal Government’s amnesty to terrorists, asserting that a Boko Haram member will never repent.
While speaking on a BBC Hausa Programme, Senator Ndume based his conviction on the report that a repentant Boko Haram member, who was recently integrated into the community, killed his father, stole his wealth and disappeared.
The lawmaker had then queried government’s rationale for spending the nation’s funds to ‘reform’ the terrorists, alleging that many of the ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members had since gone back to their former den. HURIWA ABSOLUTELY BACKS SENATOR ALI NDUME AND HAS TOTALLY CONDEMNS THIS ILLEGALITY WHICH ENDANGERS THE SANCTITY OF THE CONSTITUTION AND UNDERMINES THE WAR ON TERROR WHICH IS BEING FOUGHT WELL BY OUR SOLDIERS ON THE FRONT LINES.
More worrisome is that while government of Muhammadu Buhari is busy offering ISLAMIC TERRORISTS amnesty at the expense of their victims who live in harsh conditions the Boko Haram Terrorists are still busy unleashing terror on innocent citizens, with latest being the most inhuman execution of 20 prisoners, including two Nigerian Soldiers on Friday July 31, 2020 sentenced to death for spying. VICTIMS OF TERROR ARE SUBJECTED TO INDIGNITY AND DEHUMANIZING ABUSES LIKE SEXUAL ABUSES OF THE GIRLS AND WOMEN.
OUR STAND AND WAY FORWARD:
Although section 174 (1) of the 1999 Constitution empowers the AGF to institute, take over or discontinue any criminal matter in any court in Nigeria, subsection 3 of that section says he must do so with regard to the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process.
By the forgoing, the burden and moral duty of the AGF are to the nation and that is why he is also the Minister of Justice. It becomes curious therefore when the Attorney General suddenly takes over the trial of soldiers that allegedly killed some Policemen in Taraba state.
The Taraba state Attorney General never showed his inability and/or challenges to continue with the trial of the soldiers. The general feeling here is that there is an attempt to prosecute the charge with political interest, which may result to entering a nolle prosequi and discontinue the entire trial as time goes on as have been observed by legal experts.
The facts of the Wadume case are in the public domain. The expectations of the public are today damaged by the removal of the military men from the list. The attempt by the AGF to use his office to mutilate defendant’s list has given room for the suspicion that there is a political interest in the judicial system which speculatively sentenced Evans even to death, may be because he is Igbo (although a bad specie of the Igbo race) but the Taraba Kidnapper and his soldiers collaborator are about getting soft landing from the AGF who has failed to arraign the Army captain and other soldiers who took part in the killing of 3 policemen who arrested the Taraba kidnapper.
Relatedly, sentencing a kidnapper to death and offering amnesty to terrorists who are known to have caused massive deaths of innocent citizens and destruction of properties is a reflection of the kind of irresponsible and reckless leaders we have in government. We wonder if being law-abiding and upright is worth anything in this country.
They should be remanded in prison. Reintegrating them into the society is not a good option. Government should give priority to displaced families instead of embarking on this bad project. We therefore condemn President Muhammadu Buhari-led government’s amnesty efforts for Boko Haram for obvious reasons.
First, victims of Boko Haram insurgency are still suffering the harsh realities of the war; humanitarian crisis, loss of loved ones and livelihoods. They are still refugees in squalid displacement camps.
Secondly, about 38,000 people have died as a result of the ongoing conflict; the anguish is still fresh as jihadists attacks continue. There are almost 2 million kids of North East of Nigeria living in intolerable and inhuman conditions in the various refugee camps.
Thirdly, the government’s amnesty programme did not considere victims of Boko Haram insurgency and designated communities in implementing the amnesty.
We urge Government to prioritise the objectives and needs of those affected by the insurgency. Whoever championed the cause of granting amnesty to Boko Haram members should be called to order as that is not to be the best use of tax payers’ money and indeed a complete misplacement of priority.