FG should dialogue with separatists, they have reasons ―Falana

Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on Saturday, called on the Federal Government to dialogue with various separatists groups.

This was just as he decried the order given by President Muhammadu Buhari to security men to shoot anybody illegally found in possession of a firearm, saying illegal possession of a firearm does not attract the death penalty.

Falana said this at the 25th Anti Corruption situation room organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) with the topic: “Assessing the fight against Corruption,” which took place at Ikeja, Lagos.

The legal luminary argued that those clamouring for secession had justifiable reason to demand for it in line with Article 20 of the United Nation Organisation which he said permitted them to secede if the conditions under which they lived in the country do not favour them.

Falana argued that corruption played a major role in denying the people from enjoying basic necessities of life, saying that was why some were agitating for secession.

But he quickly demanded that it was better for government to dialogue with them rather than go to war.

“We, therefore, call on him (Buhari) to enter into dialogue with the separatists and restore confidence in them about the country. They want a better life; they want improved welfare; they want good security; they want to move freely without being kidnapped or killed,” he said.

Speaking further, Falana urged Nigerians to keep up the fight for the country to return to democracy, saying Nigeria was currently under civil rule and not democracy.

The human right lawyer maintained that of the 22 years the country had been returned to civil rule, former military men had been in power most of the period, and the reason the country was losing.

He, therefore, charged the civil society organization and citizens to continue with the struggle, adding: “I urge us to continue, we don’t have democracy yet.”

He also charged the anti-corruption agencies and the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General to be committed to fighting the corruption war, rather than them talking like critics.

In his welcome address, chairman of HEDA Resources Centre, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, said he chose June 12 for the seminar because of the significance of the date in the fight against corruption, recalling that the late Chief MKO Abiola and winner of the June 12, 1993 election, promised to eradicate corruption and make life meaningful for the people.

Suraju said it was good that the Federal Government recognised June 12 as Democracy Day, but added that more needed to be done by allowing Nigerians to enjoy the better life Abiola promised them in his campaign.

“We chose today to bring back promises of June 12, what we are concerned with is if we are making progress or still on the same spot. It is better to know if we are moving in the right direction,” he said.

Suraju, however, called on the government to create a platform where it shall feed the people back on their effort at fighting corruption.

Other organisations that spoke at the seminar including Society for West Africa Internal Auditors Practitioners (SWAIAP), Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), among others, tasked the government on the need for collaboration between people and the anti-graft agencies in the country in order to win the battle against corruption.

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