Chief Olu Falae’s ab­duc­tion re­vis­ited

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Femi Falana

On May 4, 2012, a gang of gun­men in­vaded the res­i­dence of Mr. Olai­tan Oy­erinde, the then Per­sonal As­sis­tant to the Edo state gov­er­nor, Com­rade Adams Osh­iomole. In the pres­ence of his wife and young chil­dren Mr. Oy­erinde was grue­somely killed. A few days af­ter the tragic in­ci­dent, the Nige­ria Po­lice Force ad­dressed a press con­fer­ence in Benin where a set of sus­pects were pa­raded be­fore the me­dia. They ad­mit­ted their ig­no­ble role in the crim­i­nal en­ter­prise.

Based on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that had been con­ducted into the mat­ter the Po­lice au­thor­i­ties con­cluded that it was a case of paid as­sas­si­na­tion. Nige­ri­ans were as­sured by the Po­lice that the sus­pects would be promptly charged to court. Shortly af­ter that, the State Se­cu­rity Ser­vice SSS ad­dressed another press con­fer­ence in Abuja and pa­raded another set of crim­i­nal sus­pects. The sus­pects also “con­fessed,” that they were solely re­spon­si­ble for the bar­baric mur­der of Mr. Olai­tan Oy­erinde. The SSS which claimed to have in­ves­ti­gated the in­ci­dent and stated that it was a case of armed rob­bery. Re­gret­tably, the of­fice of the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion was un­able to rec­on­cile the two con­flict­ing ver­sions of the same in­ci­dent. As I pointed out at the ma­te­rial time, the ir­re­spon­si­ble con­duct of both law en­force­ment agen­cies was ca­pa­ble of ex­cul­pat­ing the ac­tual cul­prits. Thus, by cre­at­ing suf­fi­cient doubt in the mind of the trial judge, both se­cu­rity agen­cies had clearly com­pro­mised the pros­e­cu­tion of ei­ther of two sets of al­leged killers of Mr. Oy­erinde.

A sim­i­lar ugly sce­nario has just been re-en­acted in the case of the crim­i­nal gang that ab­ducted Chief Falae last month. In sep­a­rate press con­fer­ences both the Po­lice and the SSS claimed to have ar­rested two sets of sus­pects who ab­ducted Chief Falae. Both se­cu­rity agen­cies gave di­ver­gent ver­sions of the ab­duc­tion saga. Notwith­stand­ing that the sus­pects ar­rested by the Po­lice have since been charged to the High Court in Akure, Ondo State, the SSS should hand over the sus­pects in its cus­tody to the Po­lice with­out de­lay. The At­tor­ney-Gen­eral of Ondo State should en­sure that the pros­e­cu­tion of the sus­pects who kid­napped Chief Falae is not bun­gled by the se­cu­rity agen­cies. It is high time the fed­eral govern­ment called all law en­force­ment agen­cies in the coun­try to or­der to pre­vent­ing them from toy­ing with the se­cu­rity of the Nige­rian peo­ple by en­gag­ing in mean­ing­less com­pe­ti­tion and overzeal­ous­ness.

Once again, I call on Pres­i­dent Buhari to ad­dress the bloody clashes that reg­u­larly oc­cur be­tween farm­ers and Fu­lani herds­men in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try. Through the neg­li­gence of the State the coun­try has con­tin­ued to wit­ness the reck­less killing of in­no­cent farm­ers and the de­struc­tion of farm­lands. Farm­ers, like other cit­i­zens, are en­ti­tled to the pro­tec­tion of the right to life and prop­erty. To halt such wan­ton killings the prim­i­tive move­ment of thou­sands of heads of cat­tle from the north to the south should be stopped with­out any fur­ther de­lay. In the in­terim, States which have large live­stock pop­u­la­tions should take ad­van­tage of the Land Use Act to ac­quire land for the estab­lish­ment of graz­ing re­serves. In view of the in­creas­ing in­ci­dent of cat­tle rustling se­cu­rity mea­sure should be put in place to po­lice the graz­ing re­serves. The said graz­ing re­serves will be phased out grad­u­ally and re­placed with ranches and abat­toirs. How­ever, since the fed­eral govern­ment is ob­li­gated to pro­tect the life and prop­erty of ev­ery cit­i­zen ur­gent steps should be taken to avert fur­ther killings and de­struc­tion of farm­lands by herds­men. If the Buhari Ad­min­is­tra­tion does not dis­charge its con­sti­tu­tional duty by stop­ping the un­war­ranted civil dis­tur­bances, we shall not hes­i­tate to pray the fed­eral high court to com­pel it to act re­spon­si­bly in the cir­cum­stance by en­sur­ing the pro­tec­tion of the fun­da­men­tal rights of ev­ery farmer to life and prop­erty. At the same time, we shall equally ask the Court to com­pel the fed­eral govern­ment and state govern­ment with large live­stock pop­u­la­tions to es­tab­lish graz­ing re­serves and ranches.

Femi Falana SAN

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