Lawyer petitions US Government, seeks sanctions for discrimination against Christian Judge in Kebbi State

Posted by News Express | 29 June 2019 | 383 times

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•Ambassador Brownback

A Nigerian international lawyer and human rights activist has petitioned the Government of the United States of America requesting sanctions on Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State and members of his government for discriminating against a Christian Judge in the state.

In the petition recently sent to Ambassador Sam Brownback the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Emmanuel Ogebe of the US NIGERIA LAW GROUP requested “the banning of Governor Atiku Bagudu from the US; banning of all executive officials of Kebbi State from the US; and suspension of the repatriation of the funds which Mr Bagudu looted and laundered abroad (approximately half a billion dollars).”

The petition was occasioned by the refusal to confirm Justice Elizabeth Karatu, who had been the acting Chief Judge of Kebbi State since 2018, for the position ostensibly on account of her religious faith.

The petition reads as follows:

Dear Ambassador Brownback,

IMPOSE SANCTIONS FOR RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIAN JUDGE FIRED IN NIGERIA

We wish to draw to your attention the firing of a judge in Nigeria’s Kebbi State after she reported job discrimination on the basis of her Christian faith. This is just the latest in a pattern of vilification and victimization of judicial officers on the basis of religion in northern Nigeria.

A. FACTS

The Honorable Justice Elizabeth Karatu has been the acting Chief Judge of Kebbi State since 2018. She was supposed to be confirmed as Chief Judge pursuant to the Federal constitution being the most senior judicial official.

Per our attachment (Exhibit A) the Kebbi state legislature notified the Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu that they had voted to confirm Justice Elizabeth Karatu as the state Chief Judge after her nomination by the National Judicial Council (NJC.)

However when she protested to the NJC that Governor Bagudu refused to swear her in as CJ, she was fired by Governor Bagudu in violation of the constitution. https://dailynigerian.com/kebbis-female-acting-chief-judge-petitions-njc-over-gov-bagudus-refusal-to-confirm-her-for-being-christian/

B. BACKGROUND

Discrimination in employment and in promotion is one of the primary areas of religious persecution by state actors against Christians in northern Nigeria.

Prior to Justice Elizabeth Asabe, this also happened in the northern state of Kano.

There a female Christian Judge the Honorable Justice Patricia Mahmoud was acting Chief Judge and never confirmed as substantive State Chief Judge. She eventually had to leave the state to a federal judgeship after she was nominated by another state.

Sadly the injustice meted out to Justice Patricia Mahmoud occurred over 30 years after Kano perpetrated the same travesty on another female judge.

The Honorable Justice Alooma Mukhtar rose to be the most senior judge but was denied confirmation as Kano State Chief Judge. Incidentally she was Muslim but was denied on the basis of her gender due to the secondary status of women in ultra conservative Islamic settings.

Justice Mukhtar had to leave Kano state for a federal appointment where she ultimately rose to be the first female justice of the Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court. Ironically, she became the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria. She was deemed unworthy as a Muslim female to be Chief Judge of a state but was worthy to be Chief Justice of the entire nation.

Sadly, in the instant case of Justice Elizabeth Karatu, she was not given the option of leaving the state for a federal judgeship. Worse still she was summarily fired with ignominy literally weeks to her retirement due date in July. This underscores the extreme prejudice shown to her.

Similarly the first southern Christian Chief Justice of Nigeria in 30 years was framed, suspended and ingloriously forced out of office by Gen. Buhari and replaced with a Muslim Justice just this year.

C. PROFILE OF VIOLATOR

The Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu is a person of interest and indeed an indicted person by US law enforcement.

Bagudu was fingered by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in the largest assets forfeiture of looted funds from abroad in US history under the Kleptocracy Initiative.https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/us-freezes-more-458-million-stolen-former-nigerian-dictator-largest-kleptocracy-forfeiture

Bagudu was the principal indicted party in the looting and laundering of half a billion dollars on behalf of dreaded late Nigerian dictator Gen. Abacha. (Identified as #11 in the criminal court complaint’s list of defendants) https://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/resources/765201435135920471922.pdf

For a long time, the infamous “Abacha loot” of billions of dollars was estimated to be the largest theft in the world.

Despite the criminal action against him, Mr Bagudu contested and won election as governor under Nigeria’s ruling party the APC.

As an indicted person, Mr Bagudu was not eligible to contest for political office under Nigerian law.

D. REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS UNDER APPLICABLE LAWS

Under US law, corrupt foreign nationals may have their visas revoked and may be banned from entry to the US. Currently a former Nigerian State Governor, a former Nigerian Attorney General and a current Nigerian State Governor are amongst those who have been banned from the US. It is believed that Mr Bagudu may also currently be banned.

In the event that he is not, under US law you have authority to recommend the banning of persons involved in egregious persecution or discrimination in violation of freedom of religion and belief.

Accordingly we request as follows:

    1. The banning of Governor Atiku Bagudu from the US

    2. The banning of all executive officials of Kebbi State from the US

    3. The suspension of the repatriation of the funds which Mr Bagudu looted and laundered abroad (approximately half a billion dollars).

Attached is the letter from the US Attorney General’s Office indicating plans to return the money to Nigeria.

However to do so at this time amounts to a travesty as returning the proceeds of crime to Nigeria where, if it is redistributed amongst the states, it will once again enter the hands of the man who looted it in the first place. Governor Bagudu must not benefit from the proceeds of his crime.

  4. We urge you to invite the Government of Nigeria to the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom to address the multifarious violations of religious freedom ongoing in that country.

We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Source: News Express

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