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Buhari’s Bills: Intersociety writes National Assembly, warns against passing “militarist criminal legislations”

By News Express on 29/01/2016

Views: 2,677

The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has written to the leadership of the National Assembly, warning against the passage of “militarist criminal legislations.”

The letter, dated 28th January, 2016,and a copy of which is in the possession of News Express, was in reaction to the transmission of two new anti-corruption law bills by President Muhammadu Buhari through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation seeking their passage into law. The bills were read on the floor of the Senate by Senate President Bukola Saraki on Wednesday, 27.

Intersociety in the letter addressed to Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, urged the National Assembly “to reject and tear to shreds all forms of proposed unconstitutional enactments that may be brought to their legislative attention by the executive Presidency of Gen Muhammadu Buhari.” The rights group also urged the lawmakers “to retrieve and amend or constitutionally restructure any unconstitutional and anti citizens’ liberties’ enactment or legislation in use in Nigeria.”

Titled “Buhari’s Proposed Anti-Corruption Laws: A Call for Rejection of All Forms of Unconstitutional Enactments in Nigeria”, was signed by Intersociety Board Chairman Emeka Umeagbalasi, Head, Democracy & Good Governance Programme, Chinwe Umeche, Esq., and Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq. It was copied Attorney General of the Federation & Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN. The letter reads:

“The attention of the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) is drawn to transmission by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to your public offices of two executive sponsored bills concerning anti corruption management in Nigeria. The two bills are tagged: “Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill 2016 and the Criminal Matters Bill 2016”. The letter accompanying them was read yesterday, Wednesday, 27th January 2016 before the floor of the Senate by Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki.

“While we support fully efforts at reducing to the barest minimum the scourge of corruption and abuse of public office in Nigeria in line with the provisions of Section 15 (5) of the 1999 Constitution and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, signed and ratified by Nigeria; we vehemently oppose “fighting corruption using militarist criminal legislations”; akin to discredited and obnoxious Decrees No 2 and 4 of 1984. We also support fully fighting corruption using institutional reforms and public decency, which is contained in the UN Convention Against Corruption; in which 70% anti corruption efforts are dedicated to institutional reforms and public decency; and 30% to penal approaches. Our serious reservations concerning the grossly vindictive and selective approaches adopted by the present Buhari administration in prosecution of its so called “war on corruption” are also totally unreserved and non negotiable.

“It is our specific demand that any executive sponsored bill on anti corruption in Nigeria found inherently inconsistent and incoherent with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution particularly the Chapter Four or Fundamental Human Rights must not only be rejected, but also torn to shreds and thrown out. We had in the course of our recent research discovered that a number of constitutionally incoherent and anti liberties’ legislations to be operational in Nigeria of present democratic time. One of such legislations is the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 as amended in 2013 with particular reference to its Section 27 (1), which provides thus:  “the court may, pursuant to an exparte application, grant an order for the detention of a suspect under this Act for a period not exceeding 90 days subject to renewal for a similar period until the conclusion of the investigation and prosecution of the matter that led to the arrest and detention is dispensed with.

“Its gross incoherence or inconsistency with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution is utterly manifest in Section 35 (4) (a) (b) of the 1999 Constitution under right to personal liberty; which provides thus:“any person who is arrested or detained in accordance with sub section 1 (c) (suspicion of having committed a criminal offense carrying capital punishment) of this section shall be brought before a court within a reasonable time, and if he is not tried within a period of: (a) two months from the date of his arrest or detention in the case of a person who is in custody or is not entitled to bail; or (b) three months from the date of his arrest or detention in the case of a person who has been released on bail, he shall (without prejudice to any other further proceedings that may be brought against him) be released either unconditionally or upon such conditions as are reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears for trial at a later date”.

“From the foregoing constitutional provision, no citizen of Nigeria arrested and detained for purpose of investigation over suspicion of committing any crime in the country including capital offense crimes must be detained beyond 60 days without trial or pretrial bail or unconditional release. The Constitution has also in its Section 1 (3) prohibit any other law in Nigeria from challenging its supremacy and authority.

“We further demand that all criminal laws proposed or to be proposed for the purpose of taming corruption in Nigeria must be subject to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as well as the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act of 2015 particularly its Sections 158 to 188 (bail procedures) and Sections 293, 295 and 296 (pretrial court remand procedures; only if anti graft punishments legislatively change from present misdemeanors to stricter felonies).

“We hereby oppose in its entirety any attempt to debate or consider (pass) the bills particularly the so called “Criminal Matters Bill of 2016” behind the scene. That is to say that the contents and provisions of the two bills under reference must be made open and debated publicly to give Nigerians clear insights into the contents of the same bills  as well as  giving them the opportunities to make inputs into same. All other unconstitutional enactments that are already in operation in the country must be legislatively retrieved and restructured to be in tandem with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.”

•Photo shows Bukola Saraki.

Source News Express

Posted 29/01/2016 12:15:32 PM





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