Following persistent wilful, mischievous and deceitful misinterpretation of sections of the nation’s criminal laws and the Grundnorm just to justify the crass incompetence of his boss, the minister of information and culture Mr. Lai Mohammed has been dragged to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) with a call on the professional body to debar the minister for professional allegedly bringing the prestigious profession into irreparable disrepute.
Making the submission in a media release is the leading Civil Rights Advocacy Group: – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) which categorically condemned the Minister of Information Mr. Lai Mohammed for saying that kidnapping and banditry are not Federal offences even as the Rights group tells him that common sense and the most minimal logic should have dictated to him that crimes are offences fundamentally against the Nigerian Sovereign States since the parts are inter dependent with the whole.
The Rights group said the statement by Lai Mohammed is more of an empty and unintelligent sophistry and is factually and legally inaccurate going by antecedents including the prosecutions by the office of the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the current dispensation including the recent taking over of the prosecution of the Taraba kidnapping kingpin Alhaji Wadume by Abubakar Malami (SAN) from the office of the Inspector General of Police who is also a federal law enforcement chief of Nigeria.
“We put it to Mr. Lai Mohammed that all crimes are first and foremost against the Nigerian State in as much as there are federal and state jurisdictions and the Constitution clearly delineated areas to be legislated upon by either the Federal Legislature which is exclusive list and by both national and sub-national legislatures which is the concurrent legislative list. However, section 214, 217, 218 of the Nigerian Constitution vest the command and control structures of the police and the Armed Forces in the hands of the President and commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and these law enforcement agencies including the DSS, NIA, EFCC, ICPC are all under the Federal control but they are at the primacy of the prosecution of the criminal suspects even at the state levels. So, Mr. Lai Mohammed is wrong and he knew it but only wanted to make page 1 of the dailies and not for public interest.”
HURIWA also accused Lai Mohammed of being clever- by- half by seeking to justify the failure of President Buhari to crush kidnappers and bandits by shifting the onus of prosecution to the states.
“We want to remind Lai Mohammed that on June 3rd 2020, the current Federal Attorney General and Justice minister Abubakar Malami took over the prosecution of the alleged Taraba State kidnap kingpin, Mr. Bala Hamisu, popularly called Wadume and 19 others from the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu.”
Also the first public officer to prosecute him (Wadume whose alleged kidnapping took place in Taraba State) is the IGP who had on February 3, 2020, dragged Wadume and his co-defendants among whom are two police officers and 10 soldiers before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on a 16-count criminal charge bordering on terrorism, murder, kidnapping and illegal arms.
The prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group says: “A lawyer in the office of the AGF, Mr. Labaran Magaji, who announced appearance for the prosecution, informed the court that the AGF took over the case and received the case file from the police. Magaji accordingly requested an adjournment to enable him work towards bringing all the defendants to court at the next adjournment. The AGF office applied to take over the prosecution of the criminal charge. We were handed over the file The case has about 20 defendants, but only six defendants are present in court. In the circumstances, we shall be asking for a short adjournment for the purpose of bringing all the suspects named in the charge. The prosecution shall do the needful to ensure that the case takes off immediately, Defence lawyers that were present in court did not oppose the request for adjournment, the AGF’s representative told the court.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed at a media briefing in Abuja, said: “The PDP alleged that kidnappers and bandits are not being brought to justice. This is apparently aimed at the Federal Government. “The PDP should therefore, call out the states, including those being controlled by it, to ensure a rigorous prosecution of arrested kidnappers and bandits.”
The Rights group Said, it is pure mischief for the information minister to try to deceive gullible Nigerians by arguing that kidnapping and banditry are not federal offences when it is evidently clear that crimes committed in Nigeria are fundamentally crimes against the Nigerian state and since Nigeria is a Federation, the constituent parts collaborate to achieve holistic prosecution of criminals who carry out crimes in the different constituent parts. But basically, the instrument of law enforcement is controlled by the President as stated in Article 2 of the Exclusive legislative list since governors have no control over the police and law enforcement armed agents.
HURIWA has therefore asked the leadership of NBA to sanitize their profession by withdrawing the practicing license of Lai Mohammed assuming he is up to date with paying his practicing fees. We are also asking Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) to demand that President Buhari sacks Lai Mohammed who is not a professional media practitioner so a journalist is made a minister because the continuous stay of a non professional media practitioner as head of the information sector is tantamount to encouraging quackery by President Muhammadu Buhari.