Monday, February 6, 2023

Buhari, Lai Mohammed lack power to reject #EndSARS panel report: Falana

The human rights activist and lawyer said Mr Mohammed was displaying “executive rascality” in rejecting the panel report.

• November 25, 2021
President Muhammadu Buhari, Lai Mohammed and Femi Falana

Femi Falana has asked President Muhammadu Buharito restrain Lai Mohammed from making disparaging comments against the Lagos #EndSARS panel report.

“Mr. Mohammed’s steps undermine the rule of law and social justice in the land. President Buhari should call him to order,” the lawyer and human rights activist said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Buhari regime has since attempted to discredit the evidence of casualty at the Lekki toll gate after the army and police opened fire on unarmed protesters in October last year. 

Despite the panel findings that established that the army killed at least 11 protesters and took their bodies away, Mr Mohammed rejected the report as “fake news”.

The information minister insisted that “there’s absolutely nothing in the report that is circulating to make us change our minds that there was a massacre in Lekki on October 20, 2020.”

He had also demanded that media houses and rights organisations tender an unreserved apology for attempts to tarnish the image of the president by releasing what he called “doctored” videos.

Berating the minister, Mr Falana said his “display of executive rascality” overruled the president who had assured the U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, that the regime would take steps on the panel report.

“But in an utter display of executive rascality, Mr Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information has overruled the President by rejecting the report of the Lagos Panel on behalf of the Federal Government,” he said.

The activist slammed Mr Mohammed for not awaiting the reaction of the state governors before concluding that the report was fake, noting that the minister’s rejection of the report was “the height of arrogant contempt” towards constitutionally elected governors.

“The Minister decided to insult the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu by rejecting the report of the Judicial Commission instituted by him under the Tribunal of Enquiry Law of Lagos State.

“Thus, the Governor who is currently studying the report has been presented with a fait accompli by the Minister. As far as Mr. Mohammed is concerned, the Governor must toe his line,” Mr Falana said.

The renowned lawyer added that “It is regrettable to note that the Minister has failed to realise that the Lagos State Government is not an extension of the Federal Government but a sovereign entity under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Since the name of the Federal Government is not clothed with any power under the Tribunal of Enquiry Law, the purported rejection of the report by the Minister ought to be treated with disdain by the Lagos State Government,” he said.

Mr Falana reiterated that the minister’s comments on the report was lacking in originality, as he has unsuccessfully tried to discredit the findings and recommendations.

He said Mr Mohammed’s callous comments on the cold murder of unarmed citizens was a sad reminder of his own experience under the same forces of brutalisation.

He retold how on August 8, 2014, Mr Mohammed, the then Publicity Secretary of the APC, had travelled to support the reelection bid of the then Osun governor, interior minister, Rauf Aregbesola, and was abducted by operatives of the State Security Service.

“I was aroused from my sleep by Governor Aregbesola who requested me to assist in searching for Mr. Mohammed. However, a couple of hours later, I was relieved when it was reported that he had regained his freedom,” the lawyer said.

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