Onnoghen: HEDA gives AGF 30 days to prosecute Babachir Lawal, Oke

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Human and Environmental Development Agenda Resource Centre (HEDA), has given the Federal Government 30 days to commence immediate prosecution of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and former Director General of Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayodele Oke over alleged corruption scandals.

The non-governmental organization issued the warning following the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

HEDA called on the government to apply the same speed in prosecuting other government officials with corruption cases.

HEDA chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, stated this in a letter to the AGF threatening to institute legal action against the AGF after 30 days, if the Minister failed to begin the prosecution of Babachir Lawal and Ambassador Oke.

The letter read: “First and foremost, we most humbly applaud and commend the timeous and prompt nature with which the office of the Honourable Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice ensured the expeditious prosecution of the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen over the non-declaration of assets before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

“Based on the foregoing, we had wished the swiftness applied in the speedy prosecution of the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria could be visited in effecting the prosecution of several pending corruption-related cases investigated by the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria.

“Prominent among these cases are the reported case of fraud allegation against the former Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, which was reported by several newspapers and upon which Mr Babachir Lawal was sacked from office.

“It was reported on the 30th day of October, 2017 that the former Secretary General of the Federation, Babachir Lawal was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari based on the recommendation of the panel headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Though, he was interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and reportedly detained by the Commission. He is yet to have his days in Court.

“Another case which bears so much resemblance with the aforementioned case was reported since 2017 wherein the former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayodele Oke, was suspended in April, 2017; following the raid conducted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in April 2017 where about $43.4 million, and nearly £27,800 and some N23 million Naira ($75,000) was recovered at his empty apartment at Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos. He was eventually sacked in October 30, 2017, based on the recommendations of the same three-man Panel headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

“The office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice is saddled with the powers to institute, undertake, take over, continue and discontinue criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in Nigeria, other than a court-martial, in respect of any offence created

“We have the mandate to pursue till infinity, accountability, transparency and integrity in governance. Owing to this, we hereby request that the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation exercises its power to prosecute the above-mentioned individuals indicted by the vice president’s panel, with the view to setting a standard that the law is to be upheld ultimately to setting same as a deterrent to future perpetrators.

“As part of our mandate of promoting accountability in governance and monitoring compliance of anti-corruption agencies with their mandate in ensuring fair prosecution of the fight against corruption without element of bias against only political opposition, we demand urgent and immediate prosecution of the principal suspects in the Babachir Lawal and Ambassador Oke scandal with immediate effect.

“Failure to institute the demanded legal action against suspects with one month of the receipt of this letter, our organization will be left with no option than seek judicial action to compel your office to discharge its constitutional responsibility.”

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