League of Anambra Professionals (LAP) has decried what it called ethnicisation of the arrest of Willie Obiano, a former Anambra State Governor, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The league, in a statement, signed by its President, Chijioke Okoli, SAN, said the sensibilities of most right-thinking Nigerians were assaulted by a distasteful video widely circulating over the social media of an understandably very sober Chief Willie Obiano, under EFCC’s detention stripped to his shorts or boxer pants and gulping water from a plastic bottle. According to the group, it is common knowledge that visitors to EFCC offices, suspects, their lawyers, and other members of the public, are never allowed inside with their phones and other electronic devices.
“The offensive video must therefore have been recorded by a staff of EFCC, otherwise the leadership of the Commission should explain how an outsider got round to taking the video shot.
“From news of his arrest at the international airport on his way out of Nigeria and other matters in the public domain, Chief Obiano is undoubtedly a suspect and likely to be subjected to the enigmatic Nigerian criminal justice system. Nonetheless, he remains innocent until proven guilty in a court of law; and not on the basis of media trials and salacious social media and WhatsApp chat group gossip. “
“Furthermore, the Nigerian Constitution guarantees every citizen, including Chief Obiano, the right to dignity of the human person and which leakage of the video clearly derogates from. “In addition to upholding the highest standards of professionalism in all fields as an “ article of faith, a cardinal objective of LAP is the enthronement of good governance and the rule of law in Anambra State and Nigeria in general.
“LAP is therefore not by any means holding a brief for Chief Obiano or canvassing that his tenure is immune from rigorous socio-political and legal scrutiny, with appropriate sanctions visited on persons found to have defaulted to levels below the legal minimum standards.
“However, these on one hand and respect for Chief Obiano’s rights, the overall demands of fairness and jus- tice as well as the sensibilities of right minded persons by the EFCC are not mutually exclusive.
It is against this backdrop that LAP is de- manding from the leadership of EFCC an explanation to Nigerians for leakage of the video to the public and its readiness to visit sanctions on the culprits.
“Just as EFCC stands condemned for trivialization of the matter, it is apposite for LAP to use this medium to condemn the antics of some misguided rabble rousers who for reasons best known to them are ethnicising a serious issue of accountability of public office holders.
Another video trending in the social media has what looks like a clergyman inside a crowded church presumably in Anambra State passionately force feeding his audience the narrative that Chief Obiano’s arrest by the EFCC is nothing but a political cum ethnic witch hunt, aside from some rather incoherent accusations against the ‘Fulanis’.
“Meanwhile, Chief Obiano was one State Governors in the South-East, who maintained friendly relations with the Federal Government and the Hausa-Fulani community in Anambra State, The Trumpet gathered.
Indeed, it is on record that his govern- ment, to the undoubted admiration of the ethnic Fulani leadership, resisted until the last hour, so to speak, the pressure in most of the Southern Nigerian states for the emplacement of anti-open grazing law, making the point that the arrangement instituted by his government of a standing arbitration/ restitution process between community/farmers and Fulani cattle herders/dealers was effective and made such law unnecessary.
It is also noteworthy that the Federal Government under APC was clearly impartial in the last Anambra State gubernatorial election, otherwise it would have been very difficult for Obiano’s political party to win easily and handing out a humiliating defeat to the APC.