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HURIWA urges NBA to revoke minister’s licence

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Emmanuel Onwubiko


Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has urged the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to withdraw the practising licence of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for allegedly bringing the profession into disrepute.

Mohammed had allegedly said that kidnapping and banditry were not federal offences. But the association told the minster that commonsense and logic should have dictated to him that crimes were offences fundamentally against the Nigerian states, since the parts are inter-dependent with the whole.

In a statement, yesterday, National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, accused the minister of being clever by half, in his effort to justify the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to end kidnapping and banditry, by shifting the onus of prosecution to the states.

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Onwubiko said: “Following persistent wilful, mischievous and deceitful misinterpretation of sections of the nation’s criminal laws and the grundnorm, just to justify the crass incompetence of his boss, Mohammed has been dragged to the NBA with a call on the professional body to debar the minister for allegedly bringing the prestigious profession to irreparable disrepute.

“We put it to Mohammed that all crimes are first and foremost against the Nigerian state, in as much as there are federal and state jurisdictions, and the constitution clearly delineated areas to be legislated upon by either the federal legislature, which is Exclusive List, and by both national and sub-national legislatures, which is the Concurrent Legislative List.”

He noted that Sections 214, 217, 218 of the Nigerian Constitution vest the command and control structures of the police and the armed forces in the hands of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

“These law enforcement agencies, along with the Department of State Services (DSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), are all under the federal control, but they are at the primacy of the prosecution of the criminal suspects, even at the state levels. So, Mr. Mohammed is wrong and he knew it, but only wanted to make headline of the dailies and not for public interest,” he added.

According to Onwubiko, it is pure mischief for the information minister to try to deceive gullible Nigerians by arguing that kidnapping and banditry are not federal offences, when it is evident that crimes committed in Nigeria are fundamentally crimes against the Nigerian state, and since Nigeria is a federation, the constituent parts collaborate to achieve holistic prosecution of criminals who carry out crimes in the different constituent parts.

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