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Northern Youths dare EFCC, Say publicize charges against Dauda Lawal, others

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A group, Northern Youths in Defence of Democracy and Justice (NYDDJ) has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to publish the charges against a former minister of Petroleum, Diezani Madueke, along with Ben Otti, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Stanley Lawson, Lanre Adesanya and Dauda Lawal all of them former officials of commercial banks and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in a national daily to show that it is not misleading the public.

The group in a statement by its convener Abba Suleiman and made available to newsmen in Abuja said if the charges are still in place, the commission should publicise the charge sheet.

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The group stressed that every first-year student of law knows that a person who is stated to be at large cannot be tried in absentia.

It said they are constrained to issue this press statement, even though they are not employees or agents of Lawal, but as patriotic Nigerians committed to the Nigerian project.

The statement reads: “We stand with the media that reported that the charges against Diezani and Otti have been allegedly withdrawn, as is clearly shown on the face of the charge sheet which bears only Lawal’s name.

“We challenge EFCC to publish the charges and controvert what we have said here. If EFCC claims that the charges against Diezani, Lawson, Adesanya, and Otti are still in place, we ask them to show us the charge sheet’’.

“Our advice to EFCC is that they should retrace their steps and go back to the spirit of the EFFC (Establishment) Act, where the organisation was envisaged to be one that will be run devoid of sentiments and personal considerations in fighting financial crime.

“Alleged Witch-hunting, selective prosecution, cherry-picking accused persons and preferential treatment of suspects, will only further confirm the widely held view that EFCC has derailed from its initial mandate.”

The statement added that Lawal is a model and mentor for Northern youths and all Nigerians and they are confident that he is innocent of the charges brought against him and that in no time he will be vindicated.

“Our advice to the EFCC is to that, the credibility of the institution locally as well as internationally; to fight corruption will be greatly compromised if it proceeds with the alleged withdrawal of corruption charges against perpetrators of one the monumental corruption charges in Nigeria’s history. They should retrace their steps and go back to the spirit of the EFFC (Establishment) Act, where the organization was envisaged to be one that will be run devoid of sentiments and personal considerations in fighting financial crime. Witch-hunting, selective prosecution, cherry-picking accused persons and preferential treatment of suspects, will only further confirm the widely held view that EFCC has derailed from its initial mandate. As for Mr Dauda Lawal, he is a model and mentor for Northern youths and all Nigerians and we are confident that he is innocent of the charges brought against him and that in no time he will be vindicated.”

“For the general public, we wish to state that we will continue to monitor developments in this case and put out the correct information at all times,” the statement added.

Read the PRESS RELEASE below:

EFCC: TELLING HALF-TRUTHS AND TALES ON DIEZANI AND DAUDA LAWAL’S ARRAIGNMENT

We are constrained to issue this public statement, However, as patriotic Nigerians committed to the corporate existence and economic development of Nigeria, we believe that institutions like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which are funded by taxpayers are supposed to be, in the conduct of their duties be; honest, transparent, unbiased and answerable to the provisions of the Nigerian constitution.

Our reaction is based on EFCC’s recent media reports on the alleged withdrawal of criminal charges against Mrs Diezani Allison Madueke, Mr Ben Otti, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, Mr Lanre Adesanya and Mr Stanley Lawson, In its statement, the EFCC laboured to justify why it withdrew charges against all the accused persons and retained only Mr Dauda Lawal, as the sole accused person, yet EFCC is trying to counteract a court process with a verbal press statement.

Our concern is predicated on the ominous development in the country where institutions such as EFCC which is saddled with the responsibility of fighting corruption, is perceived to be allegedly biased towards certain individuals, as in the case of Mr Dauda Lawal. The sanctity of the vision and mission of the EFCC will be weakened, and also lose public confidence in its ability to fight corruption, which constitutes the greatest obstacle to the development of our nation.

The negative public perception towards this sensitive corruption charges, like so many before it, is that, it will frizzle out public memory, if muddle up in legal technicalities protracted delays and bare denials. There is also a perceived possibility of using Mr. Dauda Lawal, as an alleged scapegoat in order to exonerate the other popular accused persons and bring disrepute to his personality and career spanning 30 years in the public and private sector.

Media reports on the travails of Mr Dauda Lawal began in 2016 when he was arrested and detained for weeks over a transaction that he facilitated in the normal course of his work as Executive Director, Public Sector, at First Bank Plc. Mr. Lawal has maintained his innocence at all times as he has always expressed his willingness to defend himself against any charges brought against him in a Court of Law. What the perception envisaged is that principal actors in the event, will be exonerated. The recent approach to prosecution of an accused person by the EFCC is corroborating public perception regarding the fight against corruption (we stand to be corrected as to what a discharge entails if not exoneration), while he will be allegedly singled out for what is now clearly persecution and not prosecution.

In its statement, the EFCC claimed that its decision to discharge all the other co-accused and retain only Mr Lawal on the charge sheet, was a deliberate decision taken in open court, yet it failed to mention, that of all the accused persons, only Mr Lawal has consistently presented himself in court at all hearings and has never failed to appear before the court. The EFCC allegedly stated that all the other accused persons have at one time or the other made excuses in order to delay or evade trial, yet it went ahead to allegedly withdraw charges against the same persons and retained the only person who has been consistently available before the Court to prove his innocence and get an acquittal is really preposterous.

In addition, we wish to note that all accused persons including the discharged persons were in Court on the last two Court dates of 24th May 2019 and 5th November 2019, yet no pleas were taken from them, rather they were allegedly rewarded with a withdrawal. This is coming from the same EFCC that claims difficulty in trying the accused persons due to supposed antics on their part.

Further, we stand with the Media that reported that the charges against Mrs Diezani and Mr Otti have been allegedly withdrawn, as is clearly shown on the face of the charge sheet which bears only Mr Lawal’s name. We challenge EFCC to publish the charges and controvert what we have said here, rather than make barefaced denials. If EFCC claims that the charges against Diezani, Lawson, Adesanya and Mr Otti are still in place, we ask them to show us the public the charge sheet. Novice in the law profession knows that a person who is stated to be at large, cannot be tried in absentia.

Our advice to the EFCC is to that, the credibility of the institution locally as well as internationally, to fight corruption will be greatly compromised, if it proceeds with the withdrawal of corruption charges against perpetrators of one the monumental corruption charges in Nigeria’s history. They should retrace their steps and go back to the spirit of the EFFC (Establishment) Act, where the organization was envisaged to be one that will be run devoid of sentiments and personal considerations in fighting financial crime.

Alleged Witch-hunting, selective prosecution, cherry-picking accused persons and preferential treatment of suspects, will only further confirm the widely held view that EFCC has derailed from its initial mandate. As for Mr Dauda Lawal, he is a model and mentor for Northern youths and all Nigerians and we are confident that he is innocent of the charges brought against him and that in no time he will be vindicated.  For the general public, we wish to state that we will continue to monitor developments in this case and put out the correct information at all times. May God continue to bless Nigeria and lead us right.

Vanguard

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