Saturday, 12 April 2014

Open Letter: Issues Warranting Our Observation, Advice & Commendation

Governor Willie Obiano


Ref: INTERSOC/001/04/014/ANSG/NG

His Excellency
Chief Willie Maduabuchukwu Obiano
Executive Governor of Anambra State
Office of the Anambra Governor
Government House, Awka

Sir,
Issues Warranting Our Observation, Advice & Commendation
The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety wishes to write Your Excellency over the above subject.

1. Crime Fighting & Dislodgement Of Criminal Entities: This is so far so good. Your Excellency’s efforts in this aspect are commendable. But caution should be taken to avoid giving the concerned security agencies, particularly the Anambra State Police Command sweeping powers. Such sweeping powers will not only defeat the very aim of making Anambra roundly secured, but will also put the State under police siege with accompanying abuses and corrupt practices including torture and extra judicial killings, reckless mounting of roadblocks and extortion, trumped up allegations and charges, indiscriminate and reckless arrests, unlawful detention and pre-trial extortion.

It is also very important to remind Your Excellency that “a criminal” in strictest sense and according to law and international norms “is a malicious citizen of legally recognized mature age, who is in conflict with the written criminal law, whether misdemeanor or felony; and is subjected to the processes of arrest, detention, investigation, fair trial, conviction and sentencing”. Any individual that falls outside the legally recognized mature age, who is in conflict with written unlawful acts, is described as “juvenile delinquent”. The Children and Young Persons Act of 1944 and relevant Child Rights Act/Laws in the country contain processes to handle such citizens. Exceptions to this fundamental and unambiguous definition are very few such as when an arresting security operative is under violent attack from the malicious citizen, right to self defense may be invoked, with a condition that the force applied by the arresting security operative must not use force that is greater than that applied by his or her attacker. If killing occurs strictly on the foregoing premise, it is called “excusable homicide”.

Following from this, Your Excellency, it is unlawful to take suspects peacefully into custody only for them to be brought out from custody and shot dead. It is also wrong to arrest suspects peacefully only to be taken to police stations and killed extra judicially without investigation and trial. Our laws still forbid “trial by ordeal”.

One of the instance cases is that of Citizen Rapuruchukwu Donatus Ikwuanusi, 32, of 26B, Ihitenasaa Street, Iyiowa Odekpe in Ogbaru LGA of Anambra State. He owns Fish ponds located at 3, Ibekwe Street in Iyiowa Odekpe and SAKAMORI Lane in Nkutaku Layout, Ogbaru LGA. He was peacefully arrested on invitation by a 3-man SARS operatives (Prince, Azubuike and Kingsley) attached to Okpoko Police Station. The arrest took place on 29th January, 2014 at a restaurant along Obodoukwu Road in Ogbaru. He was first taken to Okpoko Police Station’s SARS unit and later transferred to the SARS headquarters at Awkuzu, from where he disappeared till date. According to his father, Ichie Jude Ikwuanusi, quoting the OC/SARS, CSP Chima Nwafor, Citizen Donatus (fondly called “Daddy”) was accused of “keeping guns for a suspected armed robber named “UPPER”. His parents: Ichie Jude Ikwuanusi (75) and Mrs. Hope (60) Ikwuanusi, who reside with their disappeared son at No. 26B, Ihitenasaa Street in Iyiowa Odekpe Layout, were not informed of his arrest and whereabouts till date.

For crime fighting and control to succeed in Anambra State, there is need to overhaul the State Criminal Justice System. This includes introduction of multi sentencing system especially in the areas of simple, misdemeanor and “low” felony offences or non capital offences. Particularly speaking, fine sentencing should be introduced with biometric profiling of offenders to easily detect repeat offenders. Strict and statutory liability offences like traffic and sanitation/environmental law breaking should be a fundamental part of the foregoing. The Anambra State High Court Division should be professionalized with the appointment of judges with requisite qualifications in civil law to handle civil proceedings and those with requisite qualifications in criminal law, criminology and sociology to handle criminal trials. Magistrates should be barred from entertaining matters with capital punishments whether in the form of “holding charge” or otherwise. The State CID and SARS as well as the State DPP and criminal investigation management should be extensively overhauled and upgraded to modern standards.

2. Environmental Cleanliness, Protection & Traffic Control: We associate ourselves with efforts made so far by Your Excellency in this respect. Other than this, there should be minimum use of touts and militant youths for their enforcement and increased use of mobile courts and formal law enforcement agents. There should be “sanitation offences/environmental degradation mobile courts, sanitation fees mobile courts and traffic offences mobile courts. The major sentencing option of these summary courts should be fines or compulsory community/public services like clearing of drainages, cutting of flowers and weeds at roadways, footpaths and public gardens and parks. Jail sentencing options should be occasionally applied.

There should be flowering and city/road beautification project in the State including clearing and beautification of the Ojukwu Gateway and Upper Iweka areas. Any form of commercial activities within the State Government’s environmental fences between Niger Bridgehead and Onitsha Upper Iweka should be prohibited. The construction work going on at the new Abada Traders’ Market at the Head Bridge should be monitored to avoid the traders congesting the under Bridge and converting it into loading park. All inter-city buses at Upper Iweka should be moved into the State owned expansive park along Owerri Road.  

3. 3-Cs (Continuation, Completion & Commissioning Of The Ongoing Projects): Your Excellency’s decision on this is very commendable. The huge investments of the Government and people of Anambra State into this area are at stake. Their completion and commissioning are very critical and a safety key for the huge public investments under reference.

4. State Executive Council: The quality of commissioners and special advisers recently nominated by Your Excellency and cleared by the State House of Assembly gladdens our heart. But one recurring decimal among Anambra’s recent and past commissioners is armchair syndrome. Another is creation and maintenance of illicit revenue bodies and persons. These malicious bodies and persons apply all manners of roguish methods to collect illicit and privatized revenues, after which they return a part to those malicious political aides that created and maintained them. Your Excellency’s new commissioners and special advisers should be roundly monitored and be made to spend most of their duty hours on the fields. They must not be allowed to convert their public offices and duties into “business enterprises”.

5. Peter Obi’s N86.65Billion Cash & Investments In Office: As Your Excellency may be aware, some faceless groups believed to have been sponsored by malicious politicians have described Mr. Peter Obi’s N86.65Billion worth of cash and investments left for the State as a fiction. Our re-investigation of the matter clearly showed that what Obi left in office is N86.65Billion and not N75Billion as he earlier declared on 8th of March, 2014 during his public steward presentation.

The breakdown of our re-investigated figure is as follows: 1. Local Investments in SABMiller, Independent Power Project, Orient Petroleum,  Agulu, Awka & Onitsha Hotels  as at 17th  of March, 2014, N27 billion. 2. Foreign Currency Investments (external bonds with due dates & interests) spread in Diamond, Access and Fidelity Banks as at 17th day of March, 2014, $156million or N26.5 billion. 3. Certified State / MDAs / MDGs’ cash balances as of the date under reference, N28.165 billion. 4. Federal Government of Nigeria’s approved refund for federal roads done and completed on its behalf by the Government of Anambra State as at 17th day of March, 2014, N10 billion. 5. These bring the grand total to N91, 65 billion.  When deducted from the received and paid  certificates of already executed projects of N5 billion, the total  remaining balance as at 17th day of March, 2014 is put at N86.665 billion.

Though, in the course of our re-investigation, we saw relevant government and bank documents that detailed the said investments and cash, but there is need for Your Excellency to speak publicly on the issue. We also saw the gubernatorial handover letter from Mr. Peter Obi to Your Excellency, wherein the breakdown of the cash and investment credit was clearly given. We believe that three weeks plus, which Your Excellency’s new government has lasted, is enough to verify the authenticity or otherwise of Mr. Peter Obi’s cash and investment credit of N86.65Billion contained in the handover note he handed over to Your Excellency. There is public need for Your Excellency to speak today because today it is Mr. Peter Obi being lied against, tomorrow, it could be Chief Willie Obiano.

Following from these, our sacred questions are: Did Peter Obi owe arrears to retired and serving work force both at State and LGA levels as at 17th of March, 2014? Did he owe State contractors over satisfactorily and certified executed projects of any type? Did he leave the State in huge domestic and foreign indebtedness? Did he leave any MDAs and MDGs cash of N28.165Billion as at 17th of March, 2014? Did he buy foreign currency bonds of $156Million or N26.5Billion for the State? If yes, where are they located? What about the State investments of N27Billion? Do they exist or are they a fiction? Is there any Federal Government approved refund of N10Billion for federal roads done on its behalf by the Government of Anambra State?

On a related premise, we pray Your Excellency to concern Your Excellency’s attention on “economic governance” and avoid being drawn into “political governance” by detractors and enemies of the State. The like of Imo State is already on a doomed path because its gubernatorial elected public office holders abandoned the hallowed governance path and crashed unto “political governance” path. Today in Imo State, it is “debt, debt, debt and debt” all over the place. A House of Assembly speaker now reportedly awards road contracts. Political charlatans appear to have been on rampage in the State!

Avoid Sir, people who want to create friction between you and your predecessor. Anambra People are inpatient and intolerant to showbiz and propagandist public governance. Making things happening on positive side, moment by moment, gladdens their heart and catapults the popularity of the achiever to the hall of fame. Some quarters have raised accusing fingers at Your Excellency’s camp as the sponsors of the faceless groups under reference. But we still cannot fathom what that will add to Your Excellency’s political values as well as the collective well being of the people of Anambra State if Your Excellency’s accusers are right.

For instance, assuming, but not conceding that Your Excellency’s camp is behind the sponsorship of the faceless groups, does it mean that leaving a whopping credit of N86.65Billion for the State is a crime? Will Your Excellency wish to leave Anambra in huge deficits at the end of Your Excellency’s tenure? These questions have further made it imperative for Your Excellency’s urgent public pronouncement on the said matter so as to rest it once and for all. We congratulate Your Excellency for a good start.

Yours Faithfully,
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety

1.Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
08180103912, 08033601078
emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.uk, botchairman@intersociety-ng.org

2.Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
08037114869
juijeoma@yahoo.com

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