We Condemn The Prolonged Detention Of Robert Azibaola
The Centre for Democratic Governance, CDG wishes to call the attention of the Nigerian public and the international community, to the continued detention of Environmental Activist and a cousin to Nigeria’s former President, Mr. Robert Azibaola by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC over allegations bothering on a Pipeline surveillance contract, awarded to One-Plus Holdings Limited where He is the Managing Director, by the Office of the National Security Adviser, during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Despite an order for his immediate release by an Abuja High Court, the EFCC had since March 23rd this year, held Mr. Azibaola in its custody in a clear violation of His right and the laws of the land. We make bold to say, that it is no doubt substantially unconstitutional, undemocratic and illegal that a Nigerian citizen could be so detained by the EFCC under the present administration for such a prolonged period of time without either filling charges against him in court or granting bail to such a person.
May we remind ourselves, that the Nigerian constitution has clearly stipulated in section 36(5) that an accused person remains innocent in the eye of the law until proven guilty by a competent court of law just as it is stated that even if there is a legal provision granting this abysmal length of pre-trial detention of a citizen, that provision is ultra-vires and unconstitutional because such remains inherently in conflict with the provisions of the constitution.
This recent manner of treating suspects particularly people with links to the former administration of President Jonathan, makes a serious mockery of our country’s democracy which is anchored on the rule of law and principles of separation of powers.
Perhaps the EFCC was not satisfied with the order of the Abuja High Court, ordering the immediate release of Mr. Azibaola from its custody, it should have taken the advantage of the right to go back to the same court, for the court’s decision to be vacated or appeal to a higher court, but not to undertake to ignore it or carrying on as though nothing has happened or that the court’s order is not binding. That is an unacceptable principle in the rule of law.
The EFCC should be reminded that both the citizens and government have obligations to respect the laws of the land. The government and citizens must subscribe to the principles of rule of law and doing otherwise is not an option. You cannot pick and choose which court order to obey, like the EFCC is currently doing.
We therefore ask, that the EFCC must immediately without further delay obey the order of the court and free Mr. Robert Azibaola without further delay.
We have invested so much into institutionalizing our democracy and every Nigerian of good conscience must rise to condemn this illegality being perpetrated by the EFCC against our law.
As we go into the days ahead, we shall not hesitate to employ every other legitimate options to ensure that the continued illegality of the EFCC is stopped and the rule of law remained entrenched in our country.
God Bless Nigeria.
Barrister John Okoroji
Executive Director, CDG.