A civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has on Saturday, January 4, 2020, described as “provocative” the “orchestrated and unwarranted” media persecution of the vocal critic of the President Muhammadu Buhari government, Shehu Sani by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The rights group asked the anti-graft commission to adhere strictly to the constitutional principle of Rule of law by calling off the persistent one-sided charade of media persecution of Senator Sani using the so-called investigations over allegations of impersonation or fraud.
“The avalanche of seemingly sponsored salacious and sexed-up tales exported to the media spaces by the agents of the EFCC with the sole aim of soiling the image of the Kaduna-born civil rights activist, based only on the claims made by his accuser and the Kaduna-based motor dealer, Alhaji Sani Dauda of the ASD Motors Kaduna, even before a court of competent jurisdiction to adjudicate over the matter shows the extensive and compulsive desperation of the hierarchy of the EFCC headed by the acting Chairman Alhaji Ibrahim Magu to nail Senator Sani,” HURIWA said Saturday in a statement.
It accuses the anti-graft agency of attempting to silence him for life to give its paymaster, President Buhari, the breathing space to continue in the dramatic undermining of constitutional democracy and to become a totalitarian regime.
“There is little doubt that the current totalitarian President is absolutely intolerant of constructive criticism and is afraid of media freedom.
“We in the organised human rights community have chosen to, first of all, restrain ourselves from jumping into the media fray to defend the detained civil rights advocacy leader, Comrade Sani because we thought that the EFCC would have, by now, adopted the global best practices and put a total stop to all media orchestrations and stampeding with the aim of first of all achieving, through the illegal backdoor channel, the total demonisation of a citizen in its custody before even heading to court to obtain an experte to further detain the citizen, deprive him of his civil liberties and freedoms and to further instigate rounds of one-sided media warfare against the Nigerian citizen even when section 36(5) of the Nigerian Constitution in a very unambiguous fashion provided that all accused persons are innocent in the eyes of the law.
“However, we have broken our dignified silence because of the continuous media orchestrations and unjustifiable trial of the Kaduna born civil rights advocate, Comrade Sani, who we suspect may be a victim of the political vendetta of the current administration that has zero-tolerance approach to civilised opposition and the exercises of all constitutional freedoms guaranteed under the Nigerian Constitution and all international human rights laws and statutes which have a globalised benchmark of demanding that an accused person be granted fair hearing and that the independent judiciary must be granted unfettered opportunities to arrive at a determination that is right, just, fair, independent and unbiased.
“The style of the current EFCC to always depend on half-baked media propaganda to damage accused persons in their custody has continued to paint Nigeria as a failed state or a Banana republic.
“Nigerians must not keep silent and allow citizens to be unduly profiled as criminals based on some tissues of uninvestigated allegations from someone who by his own admission said he has a score to settle with the EFCC or that he has cases that the EFCC may be handling or both.
“Is it not possible that the entire scenario is a charade set up to rope in the foremost critic of the current President with the eventual prize of granting the accuser a soft landing for agreeing to be used as the cannon fodder in the demolition through illegal processes of the most vocal critic of the current President who has no tolerance of any type to even using his name for comedy?
“We have it on the authority of the claims of the Kaduna born civil rights leader that what transpired between him and Sani Dauda was purely a commercial transaction of buying a car or not.
“When has the EFCC become a debt collector to an extent that it is vigorously holding on to only one side of the claims and running to the media on daily basis with that seemingly unproven allegations without first allowing the court of competent jurisdiction to exercise their powers and authorities as enshrined in the Constitution in Section 6? These things and illegal ways of law enforcement will eternally damage Nigeria’s constitutional path to good governance and respect for the human rights of the citizens which is the basis of our sovereignty.”
HURIWA further stated: “Senator Sani’s personal assistant, Suleiman, who spoke with us said that the lawmaker decided to honour the invitation ahead of time to give his own side of what transpired between him and Sani Dauda, owner of ASD Motors.
“He narrated that the Senator at a time on his own volition went to sympathise with Alhaji Dauda over his arrest regarding a marital issue involving his daughter-in-law.
“That ASD had approached him to change his old Peugeot to the new model and also insisted that he can make the payment on two installments. They agreed on 508 model which costs $1.7 million.
“Suleiman stated that Sani had made the initial deposit of $25,000 in two tranches of $12,000 and $13,000 respectively.
“So why is the EFCC treating the former Senator as a common thief even when he has his own version of the encounters between him and his accuser? Shouldn’t it be the accusers’ words against the accused and why keep the Senator from also defending himself before the media whereas his accuser and the EFCC are having a bonanza of media propaganda against Senator Sani?”
HURIWA, therefore, asked the EFCC to comply strictly with the constitutional norms by charging the matter to court so the two claimants can have their day in court.