The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, has warned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to refrain from former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode and rights activist, Mr. Yinka Odumakin.
It also described as inglorious the plan to freeze the account of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, by the Federal Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN.
SMBLF is described as a group made up of prominent statesmen of Nigeria that had served, and still serving and contributing to the nation’s growth.
Elders statesmen like Chief Edwin Clark and Chief Ayo Adebanjo of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, among others are members of the SMBLF.
The EFCC has invited Fani-Kayode and Odumakin for questioning over the “fake news” that its operatives invaded the residence of the Onnoghen over the case of alleged non-declaration of assets.
Denying that its operatives invaded the said residence, EFCC, in a statement by its spokesman, Tony Orilade berated the two men describing them as agent of destabilisation.
Fani-Kayode has since expressed regrets over his statement in a post on his facebook page.
But reacting to the threat of arrest of the two men, SMBLF, warned that doing that would only exacerbate the already tensed situation in the polity.
The statement signed by Dr. Alfred Mulade for the group reads in full:
Re: THREAT BY EFCC TO DETAIN AND PROSECUTE CHIEF FEMI FANI-KAYODE AND MR. YINKA ODUMAKIN, AND THE FREEZING OF BANK ACCOUNTS OF CJN, HON. JUSTICE WALTER ONNOGHEN, BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
(1). The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) is a responsible organisation, made of prominent statesmen of Nigeria that have served, and still serving and contributing immensely to our great country, Nigeria.
(2). The information and statement about the siege on the neighborhood of the CJN originated from the CJN’s residence, while this body was in a meeting at Abuja. We could not have manufactured such a statement if the alarm was not raised from the house of the CJN. It is therefore, not a fake news. This body only acted prompted to forestall any ontoward incidence of arrest or embarrassment on the person of the CIN.
(3). We strongly advise the EFCC not to do anything, by way of carrying out its threat of arrest and detention of former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode and Mr. Yinka Odumakin, on account of this statement which has attracted denials. Arrests and detention of Chief Femi Fani-Kayode and Mr. Yinka Odumakin on account of this incident can only exacerbate the already tensed situation in the polity.
(4). We want to further caution that any attempt to intimidate and harrass any of our members concerning this issue or in any other guise would be stoutly resisted.
(5). SECONDLY, We have also been reliably informed thàt the Federal Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, has directed the freezing of Bank Accounts of the CJN, Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen, vide a letter dated 14, January, 2019, titled: “Re: Request for Freezing of Bank Accounts subject to Investigation and Prosecution pursuant to Presidential Executive Order No. 6 of 5th July 2018, on the Preservation of Assets connected with Corruption”.
(6). We want to state that this inglorious exercise of freezing of accounts belonging to the CJN when the matter pertaining thereto, being embarked upon by the Hon. Attorney-General is completely unnecessary, and a further deliberate attempt to harrass and embarrass the high Office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
(7). How do we reconcile the action of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, with the statement of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that, the President was not aware of the action of the CCT until Saturday evening, 12th January, 2019 when it was mentioned to him?
(8). The President, according to Vice President Osinbajo, could not have done anything to stop the prosecution of the CJN, by the Federal Attorney-General, who did not, as the Chief Legal Adviser to the Government, of the action he was going to take against the CJN. This is condemnable, considering the status of the CJN, who is the head of the third arm of government.
(9). Mr. Vice President went on to defend the ominous silence of Mr. President on the trial of the CJN, under the guise of the need for non interference of the operations of anti graft institutions in the discharge of their duties.
(9). We respectfully appeal to Mr. President to direct the Attorney-General to stop the prosecution of the CJN in CCT, request then to follow the due process, because no one is above the law of the land.