By using a soldier as his Aide-De-Camp, ADC, President Goodluck Jonathan is violating Nigerian lawyers, a lawyer has said.
Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, stated this on Saturday during a sit out organised by a pro-democracy group, Nigerians United for Democracy, at the Gani Fawehimi Park in Lagos.
The lawyer, who said Mr. Jonathan is breaching the constitution by several of his actions, also said the president was wrong by stating during a media chat that he could remove the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, from office.
He said even though the president nominated the Mr. Jega, his nomination and removal of the INEC chairman is subject to approval of the Senate.
“If the president wants to do so (remove the INEC chairman), he will go to the Senate with an address, itemizing why he is desirous to remove Jega,” he said. “And I can assure you, there are no cogent reasons, no compelling reasons to ask for Professor Jega’s removal.”
Mr. Falana urged the election chief to use the postponement of the election to put his house in order, adding that Mr. Jega’s office “is not under control of anybody including the president. Nobody, including the NSA or the service chief can remove Jega”.
While addressing the gathering on the president’s ADC, Mr. Falana said the president’s action violates Section 419 of the Police Act which states that the president shall have as his Aide De Camp a police offer not bellow the rank of a superintendent of police.
“We also want to join issues with the president who said in his presidential media chat that he is guarded by soldiers, and he is the only one in the country that is guarded by soldiers; if anybody attacks him those soldiers can kill and nothing will happen,” the activist said.
“We want to tell the President and Commander in Chief of Armed Forces that as far as the constitution is concerned, the president is not supposed to have soldiers in his convoy. The president is not supposed to have a soldier as Aide De Camp. Under Section 419 of the Police Act, the president shall have as his Aide De Camp a police officer not below the rank of a Superintendent of Police, not a soldier. So we are asking the president to comply with the Police Act by having as Aide De Camp a police officer.
“This is important for all of us. In the Second Republic, when we had the president then, Alhaji Shehu Shagari had a police officer as aide de camp for four years, today all the governors in Nigeria have police as their aide de camp. The president, when he was a vice president had a police officer as his aide de camp. It was because General Obasanjo who had a soldier attached to him as a retired general, that was why the man was taking a soldier all over the place. It is embarrassing that that is what our president is trying to copy. It’s a dangerous thing,” he said.
Mr. Falana also cautioned Joseph Mbu, the Assistant Inspector General of Police who was recently posted to Zone 2, on his actions and utterances.
“There is somebody in Lagos now who is harassing people, please, warn AIG Mbu. I understand he said if one policeman is killed, he will 50. Please let him be told that that threat, as far as our constitution is concerned, it is illegal. Please we do not want anybody to kill a policeman. A policeman is a human being like all of us, like Fela said, “uniform na cloth, na tailor dey sow am.”
“Please if any Nigerian is killed including a policeman, what the constitution requires is that we arrest those persons and prosecute them, nobody has the power to kill any other person in place of anybody who has been killed, therefore, Mr. Mbu should be warned,” Mr. Falana said.
Speaking on the purpose of the sit out, he said it was meant to send warning signals to “anti- democratic forces”.
“Today is the first outing of this new organization, United for Democracy. We are being told that today (Saturday) is the day of lovers, Valentine. Today is the day for love for democracy. What we are doing today is service of notice, we are warning the anti-democratic forces in our country”.
He warned that Nigerians would not accept any further postponement of the election.
“Any other postponement, we are going to fight, we are not going to accept any other postponement,” he said.
Mr. Falana also advised the National Security Adviser not to interfere with the affairs of INEC, stating that his portfolio is to advice the president. He said he stood by his earlier statement that the actions of NSA and the military chiefs that led to a postponement of the elections was tantamount to a coup.
“I got an information two days ago that they are threating to go to court. They cannot write to me, so far they have not written to me, but they have written to one newspaper to retract what I said, to apologize on my behalf. Let them be told, I have no apology to offer.
“As a matter of fact, I’m daring them to go to court, I will defend that newspaper free of charge, I will join issues with them. They haven’t seen nothing yet. I will come out with more earth-shaking revelations on the destruction of the constitution by these guys, what I said is just a tip of the iceberg, let them be warned therefore not to provoke the Nigerian people”.
He urged youth gathered at the park not to be used by political parties as electoral thugs.
“All their children are either abroad or in special schools In Nigeria. The children of any politician will not be used as thug, so why do you want to be used as thug?” Mr. Falana asked.
On the leaked recording revealing how the Ekiti gubernatorial election was rigged, the lawyer called for investigation and prosecution of those involved.
“The criminal manipulation of the Ekiti governorship election….all those indicted in the tape must be brought to book, they must all be prosecuted and another election must take place in Ekiti State.
“Let me inform you why the election was postponed last week. It was because of that revelation because that was the plan they had for the entire country so they now have to go back to the drawing board to plan their new strategy”.
Also speaking at the sit out, lawyer and activist, Jiti Ogunye, said it was disappointing that those in government now did not fight for the return of democracy.
“If you were part of the success that led to the arrival of civil rule in 1999, you can’t but be angry and terribly be disappointed,” he said.