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CSOs condemn HEDA chairman’s detention, demand apology from police

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The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) has condemned the arrest and detention of the Executive Director of Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Mr. Olarenwaju Suraj by the Nigeria Police.
   
Suraj, who is also Chairman of a frontline civil society coalition, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has been the leading voice in the quest to ensure accountability and justice in Nigeria, with respect to the massive bribery, which followed the sale of the controversial OPL 124 oil block, also known as Malabu. 
 
A former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke, who has been standing trial over the issue in Nigeria and Italy, was said to have petitioned the Nigeria Police, alleging that Suraj was part of those who forged documents against him, while the case was going on in an Italian court. 

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In a statement, CHRICED’ s Executive Director, Dr. Ibrahim  Zikirullahi, said the arrest is a clear example of powerful, influential and connected members of the society using state institutions to harass and oppress those who dare to question their actions. 

According to the group, it is disconcerting that the Nigeria Police is already creating the impression that Suraj is guilty, even without any exhaustive investigation of the case.

“It is, therefore, condemnable that the Nigeria Police is not acting as an impartial and dispassionate investigator in the matter, but appears to be doing the bidding of an interested party.
 
“CHRICED also finds it unacceptable that the Nigeria Police is not concerned about the real issues around how Nigeria was ripped off with respect to the Malabu deal.

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“As the lead institution for law enforcement, we believe the Nigeria Police, alongside sister anti-corruption agencies should be interested in what happened to the $1.1b, which was paid into an Escrow Account of Nigeria, but was said to have been paid as bribes to top officials of the then government of Goodluck Jonathan. 

Similarly, a group, Concerned Nigerians, has written the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to demand the unconditional release of HEDA Resource Agenda Chair, Mr. Olarenwaju Suraj, an anti-corruption campaigner in the country.

In the letter by its Convener, Deji Adeyanju, the group said it was saddened that, while the principal actors in the Malabu corruption deal of over $1.1b are free and roaming the streets, a whistleblower has spent two days in Police custody. “What an irony and a travesty of justice,” the group said.

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