From Ogundele Olanrewaju
Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, on Friday, stated that the Muhammadu Buhari led administration should free all prisoners who have been jailed for stealing.
He said this while speaking as the guest lecturer at an event organised to celebrate one year of remembrance of the late Yinka Odumakin and the launching of the Yinka Odumakin Foundation, held at Sheraton Lagos Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos state.
Odumakin died on April 15, 2021, of COVID-19 complications in Lagos. He was the national publicity secretary of Afenifere, a Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organization.
The Council of State had on Thursday granted a state pardon to the former governor of Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame who was jailed for corruption after the expiration of his tenure between 1999 and 2007.
Falana insisted that in the 1999 constitution that there is equality for all citizens adding that the state pardon has to be extended to all prisons who are serving jail terms for stealing.
On restructuring the country, Falana said that the 1999 constitution should be referred to as decree 24 on 1999 as “it was not duly signed.”
He said: “What the National Assembly has continued to do is to amend illegality.
“The so-called 1999 constitution is really decree 24 of 1999. When you see the so-called constitution, you will not the signature of the man who signed the law, that’s the fraud.
“When you see a law, the name of the person who signed it should be there with the date.
“Decree 24 of 1999 was promulgated by General Abdulsalam Abubakar on the 5th of May 1999 but today you will not see his name on it. It’s a fraudulent document.
“The decree was imposed on us the last set of military dictators in Nigeria headed by Gen. Abubakar and because that document is okay for members of the ruling class regardless of their political parties, ethic regional or religious inclination, they are all comfortable with the document so they can’t do anything about it including all those we are campaigning today to be President.
“It is to retain the status quo and perhaps adjust it here and there, that is the only thing they are saying, so those who are contesting particularly on the platform of the ruling party are saying we are going to continue the programme of the Buhari administration that has put our country in problem.
“Nigeria has become a huge joke in the committee of nations and so for any set of people to say they want to package his rickety vehicle and begin to panel beat it, it’s not going to move.
“When they are talking of continuity, it can only be continuity of disaster, injustice and corruption.
“They are pardoning themselves now, the same man who said he came to fight corruption now grants pardon to a man who has stolen billions of Naira.
“My reaction is that all criminals, all thieves and criminals in our prisons should be released.
“Under section 17 of their constitution, it says there shall be an equal right to all citizens and section 42 said there shall be no discrimination on the basis of class, gender, whatever, so you can not take out two people and leave the rest there.
“If the government doesn’t release others, I am going to suggest to lawyers whose clients are likely to be left in prison to go to court and challenge the discriminatory treatment meted out to their own clients.
“If you want to pardon your friends, you must also extend the presidential pardon to all thieves because if the big thieves are being asked to walk away, we must also extend it to others.
“If we are changing decrees to actions, the National Assembly have not shown any readiness to review the constitution with a view to restoring the Federal status of the country.”
He urged the state government to set up lawyers to challenge the Federal Government over issues that affect the effective running of its activities which the Federal Government had taken over.