Human rights lawyer Femi Falana, SAN, has asked President Bola Tinubu to refrain from sending the wrong signal, saying there have been several high-profile politicians with looting cases in court who have been visiting the Presidential Villa.
“Some of those who are going in and out of the Villa are standing trial for looting the treasury of this country. So, wrong signals must not be sent to our people and the international community,” the senior lawyer said at Aare Afe Babalola’s 60th anniversary at the Bar.
Appealing to the President and his government to “show leadership”, Falana declared that “right now, we’re in trouble as a people”.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was among several dignitaries, including the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi; former Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku, who attended the event.
“There is somebody here who was our president,” Falana said, “If you were accused of corruption and your case was before the EFCC or the ICPC, you would not be appointed to a position of authority. We must go back to that era.”
Citing First Lady Oluremi Tinubu’s remarks at the 2023 Presidential Inauguration Interdenominational Church Service in May, the senior advocate of Nigeria urged the President to lead an anti-corruption crusade.
“God has blessed my family,” Mrs Tinubu had said. “We don’t need the wealth of Nigeria to survive but to do the right thing.”
Falana argued that with the President at the forefront of an anti-corruption agenda, Nigeria could “take its rightful place in the comity of nations”, as the largest concentration of black people on earth.
He decried the level of corruption in the country which he described as having assumed a “very dangerous dimension”.
According to him, the situation is such that highly placed public officers steal money meant for building hospitals as people die on the roads.
“They steal money meant for ecology, to fight erosion, to [re]forest certain parts of the country. So, when a country gets to that stage, corruption is now a crime against humanity,” he added.