EVEN when we are sufficiently convinced that someone were playing to the gallery there is a danger in not immediately challenging fraudulent claims because falsehood would be historically accepted as truth if there is no record that it was ever questioned. Human rights lawyer, Chief Femi Falana can therefore no longer be ignored when he continually try to exploit public sentiments to further his own ends.
Between his impending political bid for the governorship seat of Ekiti State and defending terrorists’ sympathisers, Falana has found time to put in a word for the pro-corruption movement to the extent that he suggested corruption would be strengthened to fight back if the military goes ahead to exercise its rights. His latest foray in this regard was deliberately confusing the issues over the decision of the Nigerian Army to recover its land that has been encroached by Kakarta Civil Engineering Limited.
In what has now become a trademark, the human rights lawyer confused the issues in a statement he issued shortly after the encroached land was recovered by making it seem as if the land was seized as part of the ongoing prosecution of the company’s owner, Mr Robert Azibaola, who is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for alleged monumental corruption he engaged in during the tenure of his cousin, former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He deliberately sidestepped the fact that the area where the company encroached on the Army’s land is a sensitive area in terms of security considerations. This much was reportedly communicated to the Jonathan administration before it disregarded the security report before going on to annex military land and allocating to his cousin’s firm. Also conveniently ignored was the reality that the construction company was deploying explosives for blasting rocks right beside a military formation that remains a target of not just the leftover of Boko Haram fighters but also Falana’s soon to be clients, the militants in the Niger Delta, who have threatened that much that they will strike in Abuja. This is in addition to the area hosting the official residences of government officials.
Falana might have sincerely made the mistake of rushing to issue his statement in defence of Mr Azibaola without realising that the Army simply recovered its property that was encroached upon. Or, he might have simply been driven by his rabid hatred of the military institution and its present crop of leaders that are actively dismantling terror infrastructure in the country and putting crises entrepreneurs like him out of business. He exposed this much as he deviated from the subject matter of the recovered land to allude to the confrontation of the Army by some fundamentalists, which led to a military operation late last year.
Even Falana’s legendary hatred for the military is suspect since there is always an underpinning monetary consideration to all the instances he has used to harass military institutions. His fanatic defence of the radical members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN for instance was later reportedly linked to brief cases of the American currency released by the Iranian government to entrench the Shia Islamic sect in Nigeria. The release of such fund appeared to have coincided with when the human rights lawyer went ballistic with attacks on the Army supposedly in defence of his clients.
A reason that was given for his involvement with the Iranian crowd is curiously surfacing in the Kakarta Civil Engineering Limited’s land encroachment saga. Falana is said to be looking to make himself beholden to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC but the trend in the party’s governorship primaries in Edo and Ondo state have clearly indicated that the era of allocating party tickets is over. Given his non-existent popularity in Ekiti state, he is likely looking to score himself an opening with the Jonathan clan in the hope of keeping the door opened for a People Democratic Party, PDP ticket allocation, in case his new client’s cousin can still swing that much in his own faction of that party.
Not to be overlooked is the potential for a dollar windfall from the $40 million that Mr Azibaola is being tried for. A man who has no qualms accessing money meant for the destabilisation of his country would definitely have no issues sharing from the money stolen from the coffers of that same country.
The whole of Falana’s noise about rights violation therefore boils down to only one thing. Stomach infrastructure. The governor of his state, Ayo Fayose has amply demonstrated how this works. The lawyer needs rehabilitation especially now that a national economic recession is a reality. It is not about defending anyone but about securing where the next plate of rice will arrive from so it is basically anything to guarantee Lord Falana’s Human Rice Law.
He has his right to take the steps needed to evade hunger but it should not be taken to this ridiculous extent of openly lying to Nigerians. If the land or any other assets belonging to government institutions can be taken and allocated to the relations and cronies of leaders even against advice without recourse to recovery when such government is over then we are in trouble as a nation. From every indication, the land in question is a property of a sacred institution in this country and the Nigerian Army, in my humble opinion, has done the country proud by reclaiming a national asset that was once stolen under the executive rascality that was demonstrated by the Jonathan’s administration.
If his foray into this current issue is not driven by hunger and pursuit of cash, he should please kindly tell us what he did for the others in the past when plots that were illegally allocated to them were taken back by the government. He should not give the excuse that he was not aware of such cases since they were adequately reported. Except of course he wants to tell us that the statement he issued was another paid for racket that he passed off as a neutral intervention by an activist.
*Okanga writes from Benue