Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has said that the military authority lack the power to declare civilians as wanted persons. Falana who made this clarification in a statement issued on Tuesday in Lagos in reaction to the three persons, Ahmed Bolori,a social worker; Aisha Wakil, a lawyer and human rights activist and Ahmed Salkida, […]
The post The military lacks power to declare civilians wanted-Falana appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

 

Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has said that the military authority lack the power to declare civilians as wanted persons.

Falana who made this clarification in a statement issued on Tuesday in Lagos in reaction to the three persons, Ahmed Bolori,a social worker; Aisha Wakil, a lawyer and human rights activist and Ahmed Salkida, a journalist declared wanted on Sunday by the military over alleged link with Boko Haram.

He said the military should stop further harassment of the three civilians.

He advised “since journalists and other civilians in combat operations are entitled to full legal protection under the Constitution and the Geneva Convention, the Nigerian Army should be directed by the Chief of Army Staff to stop any further harassment of the “wanted” persons.

“As a matter of urgency, the National Human Rights Commission should make it clear to the members of the armed forces that we are no longer under military dictatorship when the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people were violated with impunity.

By declaring the three persons wanted without any legal authority the army has usurped the statutory powers of both the Police and the SSS adding, “in the process it has breached the fundamental rights of the ‘suspects’ to personal liberty, dignity of the person and fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitution.

“In addition, the freedom of movement of Mrs Wakil and Mr. Bolori whose passports have been illegally impounded has also been violated by the army. Even under the defunct military dictatorship in Nigeria the arrest and detention of journalists as well as the closure of media houses by security operatives were declared illegal by several courts. Indeed, on several occasions, the ruling military oligarchy was ordered to pay monetary damages for the breach of the human rights of journalists and very many other citizens”.

He stated for instance “the Punch newspaper was awarded reparation of N22 million over the 1994 closure of its business premises and detention of its editor, Mr. Bola Bolawole by the combined team of armed soldiers and mobile policemen under the  Sani Abacha junta.

“In Civil Liberties Organisation v Nigeria (2001) AHRLR 75 some journalists who reported s phantom  coup plot against the Abacha junta were tried before  a Special Military Tribunal. They were convicted and jailed for being accessories after the fact of treason.

“The complainant dragged the federal government to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, The Gambia. As the federal military government had no defence to the allegations of mistrial the African Commission held that the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the convicts violated Article 7 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. Similar trials of civilians by military courts in Mauritania and Sudan have been vitiated by the Commission on the ground that they failed to meet the independence test”, he stated.

Falana recalled that on Sunday, August 14, 2016, the proscribed   Boko Haram terrorist sect had released a video showing some of the abducted Chibok girls.  Shortly thereafter, the Nigerian Army declared three persons wanted over alleged links with the terrorist organisation and for concealing information from the federal government on the whereabout of the girls who were kidnapped on April 14, 2014.

Although Mrs Wakil reported herself to the army soon after the announcement, she was released and asked to await further instructions. She and Mr. Bolori have since been admitted to administrative bail by the army after meeting some conditions including the submission of their international passports. Thus, the planned pilgrimage to Mecca by the duo has been aborted by the army without any legal basis.

In justifying the decision to declare the three persons wanted the Nigerian army spokesperson, Colonel Sani Usman, stated that “there is no doubt that these individuals have links with  Boko Haram Terrorist sect and have contacts with them. They must therefore come forward and tell us where the group is keeping the Chibok girls and other abducted persons to enable us rescue them…We rely on the relevant laws of the land and in particular the Terrorism Prevention Act  (as amended) where Nigerians could be punished for failure to disclose information about terrorists or terrorist activities.”

He also recalled that Salkida, in his reaction to the serious allegations of withholding information and maintaining contacts with the terrorist stated via his Twitter that the video in question was sent to him before the girls’ abductors uploaded it on Youtube.

Notwithstanding the gravity of the allegations of maintaining contacts  with a terrorist movement and concealing information  from the federal government, Falana contended that the decision of the Nigerian army   to declare the “suspects” wanted is ultra vires, illegal and unconstitutional in every material particular.

“Since the wanted persons are not serving military personnel who are subject to service law they cannot be investigated or tried under the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 LFN, 2004.  Furthermore, under  the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended the army has not been authorized to perform any duty whatsoever.

”In other words, the powers of arrest, investigation and prosecution under the Act have been vested in the Nigeria Police Force and the State Security Service. In the circumstances, the Nigerian Army ought to have made available to either the Police or the SSS any evidence or information concerning the alleged links of the three persons to the terrorist body”, he stated.

 

The post The military lacks power to declare civilians wanted-Falana appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

Source:The Nation Nigeria