On Thursday, activist lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) replied to criminal complaints filed against him by a group, Make Nigeria Better Initiative (MNBI), accusing him of allegedly instigating Nigerian youths’ #EndSARS protests before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The lawsuit, dated November 4, 2020, was lodged on behalf of MNBI by Joseph Nwaegbu, a Senior Associate of Pathfind Attorneys.
In the complaint before the ICC, Nwaegbu said that Falana’s position before, during and after the protests was not only ignorant, but also criminal.
But Falana declined to instigate protesters from #EndSARS in a statement in Lagos titled “Let the guilty be afraid.”
Nwaegbu was challenged by Falana to pursue his ICC petition against him.
“Mr., Mr. Obviously, Joseph Nwaegbu, Pathfind Lawyers, MNBI and their mysterious minders and paymasters claim that the ICC is a forum for frivolity, especially the kind we have become accustomed to in Nigeria (such as government and government officials hiring praise-singers or protestors to counter-balance genuine protesters!).
“They will sooner or later realize that the ICC is not such a place. To pursue their petition, I welcome them.
I’m going around the globe, and I have a clear and undisturbed passage. I hope Mr. Joseph Nwaegbu’s mysterious minders and paymasters, Pathfind Lawyers, MNBI, will do likewise. I challenge them, in reality, to dare,’ he added.
He maintained that the instrument of the law has always been used to fight for what is just.
He said As recently seen in their deployment of soldiers in full battle gear and war formation against peaceful demonstrators, it was because they have no regard for the law and the properly established courts that these forces have persisted in dabbling into politics and civil affairs.”
They should learn from their US counterparts who declined to run such errands for those in transient political power, amid all the encouragement of the country’s president.
Never have I used anything other than the rule on my own side to combat the efforts to return us to 1984.
For example, one morning in October 2019, when these elements suddenly woke up and gave themselves the power to go to the streets to execute military operations against civilians under the pretext of a so-called Positive Identification Operation, I instituted suit No. With a view to getting them back to the road of constitutional rectitude, FHC/L/CS/1939/19.
The Federal High Court ruled such action as illegal in that situation. The Honourable Justice Aikawa, the presiding Judge, granted a restraining injunction and said:
It would be beyond the authority of the Third Respondent (the Nigerian Army) to march through the streets of the rest of the country and to ask people to display their identification cards and the like. If there is some need for protection for that, my opinion is that it should be left in the custody of the police, as spelled out in Section 4 of the Police Act, which is the security body that has these functions.