BY VICTOR BUORO, ABUJA – A Civil Rights Advocacy group on the aegis of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has condemned in totality what it described as “undue manifestation of arbitrariness” by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), particularly in the matter involving former Senator Shehu Sani and a Kaduna based businessman, Alhaji Sani Dauda.
HURIWA in a a statement by its Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, pointedly accused the EFCC of clear discrimination in the treatment of Senator Sani apparently because of his status as a well-known critic of President Muhammadu Buhari which may have informed his continued arbitrary detention.
HURIWA said; “Why is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), refusing to grant bail to this well-known civil Rights activist and politician, Senator Shehu Sani? Why is his own matter different when there are a plethora of instances of politicians of all political persuasions who have been invited by the anti-graft body, interrogated and released on bail?
“Even the disgraced erstwhile Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal allegedly implicated in a multi-million contract scam related to the fund of the internally displaced persons of the North Eastern part of Nigeria, never spent up to six hours with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“But Senator Shehu Sani, who has maintained his innocence of the accusations leveled against him by one person, is still being kept in detention without the anti-graft body either filing charges or releasing him on bail.”
HURIWA said that it believes that the arrest and detention of Sani known for his persistent but constructive criticisms of the failings of the current All Progressives Congress-led Federal government is progressively revealing to be without reasonable cause and the trends are increasingly manifesting that he may after all be a political hostage or prisoner of conscience which contravenes all known municipal and international human rights laws.
The rights advocacy group further said; “May we by this medium inform President Muhammadu Buhari that all human beings including his critics such as Senator Shehu Sani have the right to liberty and security. It is imperative that Senator Shehu Sani is released immediately from the arbitrary arrest and detention because irrespective of their treaty obligations, all states are bound by international law to respect and ensure everybody’s right to liberty and security of the person and this is obviously a universal legal responsibility which the Nigerian state must uphold at all times.”
HURIWA continued; “Article 9(1) of the international covenant on civil and political Rights provides that: ‘Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.’
“The continuous detention of Senator Shehu Sani without any kind of reasonable cause is unconstitutional and illegal. The discriminatory denial of even administrative bail to him is a violation of section 42(1) of the Nigerian constitution. Section 42(1) states as follows: “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:- (a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions are not made subject; or (b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions.”
HURIWA noted that the EFCC sometimes in December ending 2019 confirmed the arrest of the Senator Sani, who it said was being quizzed in their Jabi headquarters in Abuja over allege collection of money from the chairman of ASD Motors under the pretence of passing it as bribe to the EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu.
HURIWA however noted that from a written statement sent to it by the detained Senator through his office, Sani has categorically denied all the allegations and accused the EFCC of attempting to rope him into a phantom charge of criminality just as he stressed that “Fascism thrives in frame up of its critics.”
Senator Sani, HURIWA noted has described the bribe story as phantom and fake, adding that it is imaginative work of fiction, cruelly crafted to smear, frame him in order to justify his persecution.