Abimbola Akosile and Sunday Okobi in Lagos, Paul Obi in Abuja and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, yesterday urged the Federal Government to fish out those peddling rumour over an alleged plan to take over President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s administration and prosecute them for treasonable felony.
He, equally called for the arrest and prosecution of the civilian collaborators of the â€œcoup plottersâ€.
Delivering a paper titled â€˜Politics, Leadership and Accountability: The Role of the Peopleâ€™, which he delivered at a colloquium on Kwara@50 organised by The Movement for Genuine Change in Ilorin, Kwara state capital, Falana also warned the political class to stop playing into the hands of potential coup plotters.
He said, â€œThe enemies of democracy are desperately trying to exploit President Buhariâ€™s health to truncate the democratic dispensation. But in view of the ruinations of our economy, the bastardisation of our politics and the devaluation of our national morality by previous military dictators, the Nigerian people must be prepared to reject the coming into power of another fake salvation army.
â€œNotwithstanding the glaring shortcomings of the fragile democratic process the people should be allowed to take advantage of the democratic structures to take their political destiny in their own hands.
â€œOn their own part, the political class should stop playing into the hands of potential coup plotters. While the decision of the Army chief to alert the nation of the devilish plot is appreciated, the authorities should proceed to fish out the coup plotters and their civilian collaborators with a view to trying them for treasonable felonyâ€, he added.
On the controversy surrounding who will sign the 2017 appropriation bill into law, the legal luminary insisted that only the acting President. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN is constitutionally empowered to sign the document.
â€œThe President is not competent to sign any bill into law while he is on vacation. The constitution did not envisage that a president who is on vacation and an acting president who is standing proxy for him will be exercising presidential powers simultaneously.
â€œTo that extent, pending the resumption of duties by President Buhari, the acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is competent to sign all bills validly passed by the National Assembly.â€
On the economic front, Falana called for the resuscitation of the Peoplesâ€™ Bank to give loans to indigent citizens who could not access loans in commercial banks, in order to cushion the effect of the economic recession.
â€œThe Islamic Bank and others which are not going to charge interests should be established. In addition, the federal government should spend the fund recovered from corrupt public officers and their privies on job creation and fixing of hospitals and schools as well as the funding of other social services.
â€œIt has to be pointed out that the economy of the country cannot be transformed in favour of Nigeria on the basis of the dangerous prescriptions of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Nigerians should therefore be prepared to challenge the recycled neo-liberal managers of the economy who continue to insist on the dominance of market forces which have been discredited by the crisis of global capitalism.â€
â€œThe Nigerian people should be organised, empowered and mobilised through their unions associations and collectives to rebuild the countryâ€, Falana added.
Meanwhile, another Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, yesterday also called for thorough investigation of a report about an attempt by some politicians to infiltrate the military, specifically, the Army for â€œundisclosed political reason.â€
Chief of Army Staff (CoAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai had during the week revealed that there were attempts by some yet-to-be-identified politicians to influence some Army officers for sinister political plots.
Ozekhome explained that the recent rumours of a possible military incursion into politics â€œis not only worrisome, but is quite disturbing. It is not only the floundering APC party that should condemn and resist such an ignoble misadventure as alleged, but the entire beleaguered Nigerian citizenry will rise up and defend our hard-earned democracy by resisting any intrusive military khaki-tocracy.
â€œTo be sure, the worst form of democracy is absolutely better than, and preferable to, the most benevolent military dictatorship. The recent revelations of pilfering, crass barbaric and primitive acquisition of our national wealth and common patrimony, have shown the military to be even worse and more satanic than our thieving political kleptomaniacs.
â€œWhile calling for thorough investigation into this alarming scenario and the proactive smoking out of all possible culprits, the panacea remains that politicians who find themselves in government must deliver to Nigerians the positive change and democracy dividends they were promised.â€
He added that â€œthe military has proven itself to be a horrifically sad amalgam and complete negative approximation of the entire 1999 constitutional three arms of government joined together.
â€œThe gigantic iroko tree that has become todayâ€™s endemic and cancerous corruption was incubated, planted, watered, nurtured, manured, cultivated and weaned under successive rampaging military juntas. Because the military does not possess democratic blood in its autocratic veins of brute force, it can never give democracy.
â€œThe hallowed principle is â€˜nemo dat quod non habetâ€™ – no one can give what he does not possess. But, make no mistake about the rumours, as there can hardly be any smoke without fire. The military has never ever written to, nor received a sweet-heart love letter of invitation from their collaborative political class before striking.
â€œThey watch the inclement season of anomie, the debilitating political and socio-economic environment of the particular time, the pervasive disillusionment, the haplessness and total hopelessness of the suffering hoi polloi, the smouldering flames of divisiveness and schism deliberately engendered and engineered by politicians in the polity e.t.c, before striking,â€ Ozekhome observed.
Also, the Coalition of Civil Societies and Media Executives for Good Governance (COCMEGG) in Nigeria has warned politicians, business moguls and mischief makers against capitalising on the present situation in the country to overheat the polity and destabilise its nascent democracy and return Nigeria to the dark days.
This warning was made during an emergency meeting convened by the National President of COCMEGG, Mr. Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele, after discussing the recent statement issued by Lt-General Buratai, warning some mischief-making politicians and agent provocateurs against their unethical relationship with the army in destabilising the polity at this time of national history.
According to him, â€œCOCMEGG is compelled to add a voice to the clarion call to warn and caution our politicians, business moguls and mischief makers who would want to capitalise on the present situation to overheat the polity and destabilise Nigeria.
â€œWe are therefore, constrained to wholeheartedly support the Chief of Army Staff in his patriotic call and efforts to keep Nigeria peaceful and stable and therefore, warn politicians, power seekers and political jobbers to desist from heating-up the polity unnecessarily, and stop their ungodly acts of soliciting the assistance of soldiers to create disharmony and chaos thereby bringing all the achievements of the present administration to naught.â€
The civil society group warned mischief makers trying to solicit and collaborate with officers and men of the Nigerian Army to desist forthwith in the interest of national unity, peace and stability, and called â€œon well-meaning Nigerians to put their eyes and ears on the ground so as to report to the military authorities and other agencies of government of any clandestine meetings so as to fish out the bad eggs and nip in the bud, these plans of self-serving politicians.â€
Aigbegbele therefore â€œcalls on the mischief makers to be wary of the consequences of their actions or the actions of those individuals or groups who are hell-bent on derailing the much needed peace and stability in the polity that Nigerians have since enjoyed from the beginning of this administration.
â€œIt is therefore imperative for politicians to retrace their steps and take a holistic view of their interactions with the army that have sacrificed so much to keep this country peaceful and henceforth stop any unpatriotic approach, behaviour and mannerisms that will be tantamount to destabilising our hard earned democracy for any political reasons whatsoever.
â€œWe therefore urge the patriotic men and officers of the Nigerian Army to remain steadfast in their loyalty to the Chief of Army Staff, the Nigerian army and the nation and stay clear of those enemies of Nigeria who desire to take us back to the dark ages and be mindful of such interactions henceforth,â€ he added.