Mr Femi Falana has reacted to an interview granted in the past by Chief Niyi Akintola where he claimed that both (Senior Advocates of Nigeria) attended a conference in the United States where they advised President Muhammadu Buhari to put the rule of law in abeyance as a an expedient approach to fight corruption.
In the words of Falana:
“I was flabbergasted when my attention was drawn to this publication last year. I was compelled to dissociate myself from the views ascribed to me in the interview on the grounds that Chief Niyi Akintola SAN and I have never attended any meeting together in Washington before. Having consistently campaigned for the defence of democracy, rule of law and human rights in Africa for over 3 decades I have never joined Chief Akintola SAN to advise the Buhari regime to put human rights in abeyance under the pretext of fighting corruption.”
In the interview published in the Nigerian Tribune, Akintola claimed thus:
“There are those who are utterly objective, like us. We were in the trenches to see the emergence of this government and we naturally will not want it to fail. But there are those far away; we did not see them near the trenches and they are now forcing us to say things we have been keeping to ourselves. So, every one of us should be asked where our interest lies on this issue. In the first place, there are certain things that you must keep in perspective. One, there is no doubt that corruption is killing Nigeria. Two, there is no doubt that President Muhammadu Buhari is fit to fight corruption. There is also no dispute as to the fact that I am committed to the fight. Of course, there is also no dispute as to the fact that this is a democratically elected government and he (the president) took an oath to abide by the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Let me say that the reality staring us in the face is that to fight corruption, we need to employ some extra-constitutional tactics. But when you look at the scenario playing out now, you begin to wonder whether those advising the president or those around him are doing any serious thinking. About two and a half weeks ago, we were in Washington DC, United States of America and for six days, the issue of corruption in Nigeria came to the fore. It was not limited to Nigeria. Femi Falana and I stood up for our president and his modus operandi in faraway Washington. It is not that we love some of his tactics but we thought that a drastic problem requires a drastic solution. In fact, right there, I suggested that Nigeria should withdraw its signatures to all treaties that are hampering the fight against corruption – ICC treaties and what have you – and I gave the example of the United States of America.”
Read the full interview in the Tribune