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Lawyers flay FG over release of alleged looters list

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President Mohammadu Buhari/ AFP PHOTO / Sunday AGHAEZE

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Lawyers yesterday decried the Federal Government for mentioning names of those already undergoing trial for corruption at different courts as alleged treasury looters.

Ferdinand Orbih, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), described the release of the names as irresponsible.

He said people who were still under trial over corruption allegations were presumed innocent until the cases against them are proven as enshrined in the constitution.

“Such persons are presumed innocent until proven otherwise, by the constitution, which the President swore to uphold,” he said.

He added that it seems the Federal Government does not understand what the rule of law or the dynamics of due process entails.

“The case against former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman, for instance, is still pending in court. The Federal Government that has labeled her as a looter of public funds is yet to prove the allegations against her in court.

Also, Lagos lawyer and rights activist, Daniel Onwe, said the publication was a violation of the right to presumption of innocence of those on the list.

“The difference between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is that while one is now in power, the other is out of government. It is just the names that differ.

“So, where are APC people who were active players in the PDP? Or has the APC become a cleaning pool, rather than a political party?” he asked.

Another Lagos lawyer, Abubakar Sani, said the Federal Government’s publication of the names was mere allegations.

Meanwhile, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) has commended the Federal Government’s courage in releasing the names of alleged looters of the country’s wealth.

It, however, insisted the President Mohammadu Buhari’s led government would have proved critics wrong, if the list had included names of his party members.

Reacting to the government action, CISLAC program head, North west, Nura Iro Maji told The Guardian in Kano that the move suggested a clear case of witch-hurting against PDP members, a development manifesting the lopsidedness of the Federal government fight against corruption in the country.

Nura said: “Brilliant as the list of the alleged looters would suggest, it has created an impression that President Buhari’s anti-corruption drive is targeted at only officials of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.”


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