By Dapo Akinrefon
HUMAN rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, on Monday, said that Lagos State has the constitutional and legal powers to set up a judicial panel of inquiry on any issue just as he tackled the Minister of State for Labour, Mr Festus Keyamo’s, SAN, for faulting the EndSARS Panel set up by the Lagos State Government.
Falana said that the junior minister’s view has no basis for a legal basis.
Speaking yesterday at a one-day Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference 2021 with the theme: ‘Rethinking the Moment: Building Citizens Alternative Movement Beyond 2023’, the legal luminary urged Nigerians not to be confused but mobilize and change the current political system during an election.
Falana, in his opening remarks at the conference, said a masses-oriented political party should be the focus for civil society actors, adding that the interest of Nigerians must be the priority of those seeking to effect true change.
His words: “Nigeria is governed by law. The Lagos State government sets up a judicial inquiry, it was not an inquiry set up on the directive of the federal government. When you say that, you insult the state, which is a sovereign within the federation.”
While citing previous cases of a judicial panel of inquiry in the country set up by the federal and state governments, he said murder is a state offence in the constitution and not a federal offence.
He said: “When someone now says that the panel in Lagos is illegal because it has investigated federal officers, with profound respect, he is not talking law. That is not the law.”
While he said the military withdrew from the Lagos panel after its initial appearance based on very bad legal advice, Falana said: “The Lagos panel relied solely on documentary evidence from the officials of the government. In fact, exhibit A, the first document tendered before the panel was produced by the LCC which captured the events of October 20, 2020, but the camera was later disabled.
“Few weeks ago, President Buhari told the US Secretary of State that he is waiting for the reports from the state governors and he will implement them, but our friend said on Sunday on Television that he is speaking on his behalf and not as a minister. You cannot draw a dichotomy between your private views and the views of the government that you are part of.”
Calling for a masses-oriented political party to change the current political system, he said: “There is need to change the political system and tell the people that a new Nigeria is possible and we can only have it if we are prepared to organize politically by forming our own political party, a party that will not distribute money to get votes. We want a party that will be defending the interest of Nigerians, not a party that will be taking loans.”
In his remarks, Director of Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), Dr. Isaac Osuoka, said the current political parties share similar characters and lacked the capacity of resolving the Nigerian crisis, adding that popular intervention is imperative to halt the imminent collapse of the country.
On his part, Prof Toye Olorode, in his keynote presentation, urged for collaboration among civil actors, adding that there is a need to reinvent historical struggles of political change in the country.