Chief Olu Falae’s Abduction Revisited, By Femi Falana
On May 4th, 2012, a gang of gunmen invaded the residence of Mr. Olaitan Oyerinde, the then Personal Assistant to the Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomole. In the presence of his wife and young children, Mr. Oyerinde was gruesomely killed. A few days after the tragic incident, the Nigeria Police Force addressed a press conference in Benin where a set of suspects were paraded before the media admitting their ignoble role in the criminal enterprise. Based on the investigation which had been conducted into the matter, the Police Authorities concluded that it was a case of paid assassination. Nigerians were assured by the Police that the suspects would be promptly charged to court.
Shortly thereafter, the State Security Service addressed another press conference in Abuja and paraded another set of criminal suspects. The suspects also “confessed” that they were solely responsible for the barbaric murder of Mr. Olaitan Oyerinde. The SSS which claimed to have investigated the incident stated that it was a case of armed robbery. Regrettably, the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation was unable to reconcile the two conflicting versions of the same incident. As I did point out at the material time, the irresponsible conduct of both law enforcement agencies was capable of exculpating the actual culprits. Thus, by creating sufficient doubt in the mind of the trial judge, both security agencies had clearly compromised the prosecution of either of two sets of alleged killers of Mr. Oyerinde.
A similar ugly scenario has just been re-enacted in the case of the criminal gang that abducted Chief Falae last month. In separate press conferences, both the Police and the SSS claimed to have arrested the two sets of suspects who abducted Chief Falae. Both security agencies gave divergent versions of the abduction saga. Notwithstanding that the suspects arrested by the Police have since been charged to the High Court in Akure, Ondo State, the SSS should hand over the suspects in its custody to the Police without delay. The Attorney-General of Ondo State should ensure that the prosecution of the suspects who kidnapped Chief Falae is not bungled by the security agencies. It is high time the federal government called all law enforcement agencies in the country to order with a view to preventing them from toying with the security of the Nigerian people by engaging in meaningless competition and overzealousness.
Once again, I call on President Buhari to address the bloody clashes which occur regularly between farmers and Fulani herdsmen in the various parts of the country. Through the negligence of the State, the country has continued to witness the reckless killing of innocent farmers and the destruction of farmlands. Farmers, like other citizens, are entitled to the protection of their right to life and property. To halt such wanton killings, the primitive movement of thousands of heads of cattle from the north to the south should be stopped without any further delay. In the interim, states which have large livestock populations should take advantage of the Land Use Act to acquire land for the establishment of grazing reserves. In view of the increasing incidence of cattle rustling, security measure should be put in place to police the grazing reserves. The said grazing reserves will be phased out gradually and replaced with ranches and abattoirs.
However, since the federal government is obligated to protect the life and property of every citizen, urgent steps should ve taken to avert further killings and destruction of farmlands by herdsmen. If the Buhari Administration does not discharge its constitutional duty by stopping the unwarranted civil disturbances, we shall not hesitate to pray the federal high court to compel it to act responsibly in the circumstance by ensuring the protection of the fundamental rights of every farmer to life and property. At the same time, we shall equally ask the Court to compel the federal government and state government with large livestock populations to establish grazing reserves and ranches.
Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), writes from Lagos.