Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, has described the National Peace Committee led by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.), as a body set-up to protect only the interests of the rich.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said this on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television breakfast programme on Monday.
Members of the peace committee, particularly the Bishop of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Kukah, had recently been subjected to public condemnation for faulting President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption drive and urging caution in the way and manner the present administration was going about its assessment of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In his reaction, Falana said the peace committee was only protecting the interest of the rich and not the poor and wondered why the committee chose to only defend Jonathan and not others, who were being tried for corruption across the country.
The former West African Bar Association President said the action of the peace committee was one of the reasons why only the poor were convicted by the courts while the rich were always set free.
He said, “I read their statements and Bishop Kukah’s interviews and I am not bothered. You know why?
What they did was simply a demonstration of class solidarity. Nobody is speaking for the poor. Under the current political and legal system, the rich are never harassed. So, when my lord bishop was insisting on following the rule of law in dealing with corrupt people, of course it was expected.
“What they follow in Nigeria, as one of my colleagues would say, are the rules of law not the rule of law. And do you know what the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or the police do when they are dealing with the rich? They write a polite letter saying, ‘we hereby invite you to our office to kindly be interrogated by our officer’.
“You don’t write a letter to the poor. You pounce on their houses”.
Falana said Buhari’s anti-graft war was in accordance with the rule of law just as he pointed out that it was the duty of every government to fight corruption as stipulated by the law.
He said even as a Head of State, chairman of the peace committee, Gen. Abubakar, probed his predecessor, Gen. Sani Abacha, despite Abacha being dead.
He said, “Pursuant to Section 15 of the constitution, every government in Nigeria is mandatorily required to fight corruption because the provision is to defer that the Nigerian state shall abolish corrupt practices and the abuse of power”.