Army has no right to declare civilians wanted, says Falana
Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has said that the Nigerian Army has no right to declare civilians wanted.According to him, such action is usurpation of the statutory powers of both the police and the State Security Services (SSS).
The Army had in the aftermath of the released video showing some of the abducted Chibok girls on Sunday, August 14, 2016 by the proscribed Boko Haram terrorist sect, declared three persons wanted over alleged links with the terrorist organisation and for concealing information from the Federal Government on the whereabouts of the girls who were kidnapped on April 14, 2014.
The three persons are Ahmed Bolori, a social worker, Aisha Wakil, a lawyer and Ahmed Salkida, a journalist based in United Arab Emirates (UAE).Army spokesman, Col. Sani Usman, said they relied on relevant laws of the land and, in particular, the Terrorism Prevention Act (as amended), where Nigerians could be punished for failure to disclose information about terrorists or their activities.
But Falana in a statement yesterday insisted that the action is ‘ultra vires, illegal and unconstitutional since the wanted persons are not serving military personnel who can be investigated or tried under the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 LFN, 2004.
He said, among others: “Under the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended, the army has not been authorised to perform any duty whatsoever. In other words, the powers of arrest, investigation and prosecution under the Act have been vested in the Nigeria Police Force and the SSS. In the circumstances, the Nigerian Army ought to have made available to either the police or the SSS any evidence or information concerning the alleged links of the three persons to the terrorist body.”
He, therefore called on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to, as a matter of urgency, make it clear to the members of the armed forces that Nigerians are no longer under military dictatorship when the fundamental rights of the people were violated with impunity.