- There are mixed reactions from lawyers over Lai Mohammed's claim that kidnapping and banditry are not federal offences
- While a previous submission by Falana (SAN) aligns with the minister's claim, another lawyer, Festus Ogun, made a contrary submission
- Mohammed, the information minister, had made the claim in response to a statement made by the PDP over the country's security crisis
Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, raised eyebrows on Tuesday, May 4, when he claimed kidnapping and banditry were not federal offences.
The minister was responding to statements credited to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the security challenges facing the country.
“The PDP alleged that kidnappers and bandits are not being brought to justice. This is apparently aimed at the Federal Government.
“It is shocking that a party that ruled this nation for all of 16 years does not know that kidnapping and banditry are not federal offences.
“The PDP should therefore call out the states, including those being controlled by it, to ensure a rigorous prosecution of arrested kidnappers and bandits."
Falana's submission aligns with minister's claim
Shortly after making the statement, social media erupted as many found the claim outrageous. The minister's name became a trending topic as Nigerians on Twitter berated him for the statement which they believed was untrue.
However, Tolu Ogunlesi, President Muhammadu Buhari's aide on new media, was quick to draw the attention of those "attacking" the minister to a Channels TV footage where the respected senior lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), also previously stated that offences like kidnapping and murder are state offences.
“Offenses like murder, kidnapping, armed robbery and the rest of them are state offenses; the federal government cannot come to Lagos and prosecute anybody.”
Another lawyer disagrees
However, Festus Ogun, a legal analyst and human rights activist disagreed with the information minister.
In an emailed response to Legit.ng, Ogun said the minister's claim is "erroneous, fallacious, misleading and most unfortunate."
The lawyer continued:
"I feel more worried about the growing style of making exculpatory arguments just to shield the federal government from being accountable for its failure to protect the people of Nigeria.
"To be clear, kidnapping and terrorism are offences created by the National Assembly under the Criminal Code, applicable in the South, and the Penal Code, applicable in the North.
"Specifically, Section 1 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 makes kidnapping, banditry and terrorism offences under the Act. Instructively, Section 30 of the Act vests upon the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation the power and duty to prosecute all offences created under the Act, kidnapping and banditry inclusive.
"So, how did Mr Lai Mohammed come to this conclusion? If one is to place the disturbing statement of the minister side-by-side with the provisions of our extant laws, it will lie flat in the face of legal scrutiny. The position of the minister is baseless, unfounded and has no stand in law."
Ogun opined that instead of passing the buck on who to prosecute criminals, the federal government should hasten up its efforts to find lasting solutions to the worsening security situation that is capable of tearing the country apart.
"Section 14(2) of the 1999 Constitution makes it a duty on the federal government to provide adequate security for the people. The government should live up to this duty as our nation remains a risk if the complicity of the authorities continues.
"Importantly, the growing affection shown towards bandits and terrorists by the Buhari regime should be discouraged and those found wanting should no longer enjoy the fatherly love and care but be made to face the full weight of the law. Nigerians are really desirous of seeing a government that is intentional about national security."
Meanwhile, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has said the federal government is set to prosecute some high-profile Nigerians and businessmen for financing terrorism.
He, however, did not disclose the identities of the suspects or the number of people affected.
Malami disclosed this in an interview with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Source: Legit Nigeria