.How “looters’ agents” plan protest against President in London
Some lawyers on Wednesday advised the Federal Government to presume suspected treasury looters innocent until found guilty, in an efforts to uphold the rule of law.The lawyers gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.They reacted to the recently released list of the alleged looters by the government.
A lawyer and social critic, Mr. Spurgeon Atene, said that the release of the list before pronouncement of guilt from the court did not promote the principle of separation of powers of the three arms of government. Atene, the Head of Civil Litigation Department of L’avocat Legal Practitioners, said that the release could `gag’ independent decisions that should be taken by the court.
Atene noted that Nigeria’s Constitution provided for presumption of innocence until proven guilty.“Therefore, the list can only be alleged.The Federal Government recently released a list of some persons who allegedly looted the nation’s treasury. The list contained names, amounts involved, date the amount was allegedly collected and where it was allegedly taken from.
Atene noted that some of those on the list, including former governors, ex-ministers and ex-bankers, were already undergoing trial for alleged corruption. Atene said the list could tarnish the image of the alleged looters, some of whom might not be found guilty at the end.“Before such a list can be released, there must be a conclusion that they have been found guilty by a competent court of law. Even if they have been arraigned, it cannot amount to a verdict of guilty. In the court of public opinion, it appears they have been pronounced guilty,’’ he told NAN.
Atene called on the Federal Government to allow the alleged looting to go through legal process.“Legal process should roll without unnecessary impediments and disruption.”A rights activist, Mr. Olusegun Williams, said that the release of the list was unnecessary, adding that many persons on the list were already being prosecuted or interrogated by anti-graft agencies.Williams also appealed to the Federal Government to allow the court to give a verdict before releasing such a list.
Meanwhile, the Presidency has uncovered plans by those described as “Nigerian looters” to disrupt the ongoing official visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to London.Sources in the presidency told State House correspondents on Tuesday night that the alleged looters and corrupt elements had rented motley crowd of professional demonstrators to protest against President Buhari on his arrival in London.The sources said: “Barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari declared his intention to contest for another term in office as President of Nigeria; the camps of alleged looters and corrupt elements within and outside the country have been jolted.
“This has forced them to push panic buttons including renting a motley crowd of professional demonstrators to protest against the President on his arrival into the United Kingdom.”According to the impeccable sources in Aso Villa and Britain, extremely corrupt Nigerians who are custodians of slush funds stolen from Nigeria, and hiding in UK or are resident cronies of such elements, have colluded to form a league of protesters.The sources maintained that the protesters’ singular aim was to distract and disorganise the scheduled state visit of the President to England.
President Buhari is billed to hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Theresa May and other dignitaries.“Esteemed Nigerians home and abroad, friends and business investors in Nigeria, should please see through the veil of the motive behind the Abuja House, Kensington London demonstration.“It was an orchestrated act of desperation and a ploy to blackmail and hoodwink the President from concentrating on his anti-corruption campaign, which is fast gaining grounds locally and internationally,” our source stated authoritatively.
The source added: “This unpatriotic act is not unconnected to the Federal government policies to name and shame corrupt citizens and looters; to collate database of Nigerians with homes in UK who are not paying the right taxes, and the hot drive to prosecute all financial defaulters through bilateral and multilateral means.”A public affairs analyst, who preferred anonymity, also said: “The protest was benchmarked on an assemblage of local grievances and national challenges which the government is already tackling head on.
“Such as the herdsmen versus agrarian farmers’ clashes, fuel scarcity which no longer exists and trumped up charge of hunger in the land at a time when prices of food items are beginning to drop and inflation on the decrease.”
His view was buttressed by our Presidency sources who further repeated the position of the President who famously said that “corruption is endemic and Nigerians need to kill it before it kills Nigerians.”According to the source, it is obvious that this is a clear cut incident of corruption fighting back.
The source believed that many of the beneficiaries of corruption and slush funds could not withstand another devastating blow of Buhari’s anti corruption sledge hammer.“Hence, they are resolute to derail the apple cart in order to save their ugly faces and sit back to enjoy the loot in their personal banks. Some of the protesters are not even Nigerians but hired hatchet men paid to do the dirty job.“According to security sources, the protesters are said to be bent on embarrassing and humiliating the President throughout his stay in the UK.
“An insider vowed that they will take their demonstrations to the venue of CHOGM holding later in the month in Britain, which President Buhari is attending as a Commonwealth Head of State,” the source further revealed.
When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said while reacting to the London protest that the President would not be distracted from his mission in the UK.
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