Falana: Buhari Has 3rd Term Agenda Hence Attack On Free Press
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, has lampooned the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, saying it is nurturing a third term agenda, hence, has launched an attack on the media to force it to submission.
Mr. Falana stated this on Thursday in Lagos at the public presentation of a book, Testimony to Courage, essays in honour of Premium Times publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi, where he was the chairman on the occasion.
Speaking, Falana said: “The media must not be silenced. You may have a third term campaign soon.
“Very soon, they will destroy all possible opponents. And by the time they bring in the third term agenda, the media would have been gone.
“But we are not going to allow it. No dictatorship can defeat the Nigerian people,” said the eloquent learned Senior Advocate.
On the raging issue surrounding the release of Omoyele Sowore, an online news publisher in detention over charges of treasonable felony, from detention, Falana said he has been convicted without trial.
He also accused the presiding judge of the matter, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of bias against his client, Sowore.
He said” “Nobody has been given the kind of bail (condition) Sowore was given. All those who looted the treasury have never had their movement restricted.
“Sowore has been granted bail, but his movement has been restricted to Abuja. His family is in America. He does not live in Abuja. He has no house in Abuja.
“Yet, he has been asked to stay in Abuja. The trial may last for 10 years, but he cannot leave Abuja. It has never happened in Nigeria before.
“Sowore has been banned as a journalist from speaking.
“As a politician, he cannot address a rally until the case is determined.”
The learned Senior Advocate also lamented that in the 37 years he had been practising law that he had never witnessed the sort of drama that transpired in the court on Wednesday during Sowore’s trial.
He said he was shocked when he arrived at the court and saw gadgets being prepared for prosecution witnesses who could not testify in the open court.
Condemning the move, he said that “all proceedings and hearings should be in the open.
“So, if you are going to have anything in camera, for security reasons, for the interest of children, you will apply in the open court. But no application was made.
“And so, when I asked what happened and the judge pretended not to know, I said, ‘My lady, this case cannot go on because behind us, your court has colluded with the prosecutor to take witnesses behind us in your court and these are the gadgets here.’
“I said the prosecutor had confided in me that the witnesses would pass through her door so that they would not be seen by us.
“The judge pretended and asked how that happened. I said the application was made before the Deputy Chief Registrar and it was granted behind us.
“She sent for the DCR who said he indeed granted the application. She asked if she knew about it, and the man said he thought she had granted the application and that was why he made arrangement for the screening gadget.
“I said, ‘My lord, you can see now. But you must write a ruling on this.’ But she refused.”
Falana said the judge had already sentenced Sowore and his case mate, Bakare, without trial by confining their movement to Abuja.
Other speakers, including journalists, lawyers, authors and members of the civil society, also lambasted the President Buhari government for continuous attacks on press freedom.
Some of the speakers and guests include the President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Chris Isiguzo, Senator Shehu Sani, author, Chido Onumah and Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho.
Other are veteran journalist, Richard Akinnola; Country Director, Amnesty International, Osai Ojigho; constitutional lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, et al.