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Rule Of Law Committee Petitions EFCC, President, NASS Over Detain US Lawyer

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SAN FRANCISCO, November 22, (THEWILL) - The Committee for Rule of Law and Due Process in Nigeria made up of Nigerians and their allies in North America, Europe, and Africa, have petitioned Mrs. Farida Waziri on the troubling rise of human rights abuses by the EFCC.

The letter was sent to the Chairwoman of the EFCC and copied to the President, leaders and members of the National Assembly, Chief Justice of Nigeria, U.S. State Department and government representatives, President of the UN Human Commission on Human Rights, Chair of the Ergmont group of Financial Intelligence Units, Director of Amnesty International, Representatives of the German Parliament, the European Union, UNDOC and a host of other Nigerian and International and EFCC donor agencies.

While referencing the case of a US-based Nigerian lawyer who is currently in EFCC detention, the group stated that: “Emeka Ugwuonye’s case is not isolated, but is emblematic of a Nigerian Federal Government agency drifting out of control. We cannot forget the reported incidents of hapless victims of EFCC who, unfortunately, died while in the Commission’s custody. We cannot forget reports that some suspects have been raped and impregnated while under EFCC custody. We also note that many well-connected persons accused of public corruption-a core mandate of your Commission-hardly spend time in pretrial detention. This patent and arbitrary bias within the EFCC operations militates against Nigeria’s socioeconomic progress, damages the integrity of our law enforcement institutions, undermines confidence in the system and, in turn, encourages even more corruption within the polity. It is for these reasons that we now demand the immediate release or admission to bail pending trial of Mr. Emeka Ugwuonye and others similarly incarcerated by the EFCC who are less fortunate and are without resources or the vocal constituency to advocate for them.”

A member of the Committee, Barrister Ibukunolu Alao Babajide, an international human rights lawyer, noted as follows: “Our Committee is not arbitrating the guilt or innocence of Mr. Emeka Ugwuonye, rather, we are concerned about the rule of law and due process.”

The Committee has stated its willingness to dialogue with the EFCC and other stakeholders on viable ways to reform the agency arrests and detention protocols and prosecutorial discretionary standards, so that it can refocus on its primary and most important mandate: fighting corruption in government and high places.