A human rights group, Global Witness, has faulted the allegations of forgery made by the former Attorney General of Nigeria, Mohammed Bello Adoke against the Chairman of Human and Environmental Development Agenda, Olanrewaju Suraj.
In a statement on Tuesday, its Co-Founder and Director of Global Witness, Simon Taylor, said the allegation against Suraj, who is also the chairman of HEDA, is an attempt to silence him and his organisation.
According to the statement, proper investigations were not carried out and this resulted in the ongoing police harassment and intimidation.
Global Witness further called on all its anti-corruption-fighting counterparts in Nigeria and around the world, to stand together in solidarity with HEDA and those fighting the scourge of corruption in Nigeria.
It also demanded an end to the harassment of HEDA and its staff members.
The group urged the Nigeria Police to investigate if Adoke and his representatives had, at any time, attempted to orchestrate a malicious prosecution of Suraju and HEDA.
The statement read: “This has to stop! We stand in solidarity with HEDA. As a leading global anti-corruption organisation, Global Witness must call out investigations when they lose their legitimacy. To be clear, we unreservedly support Mr Adoke’s right to make a complaint about matters where he considers that he has been wronged.
“We would also support the police in the conduct of a fair and legitimate investigation. But when the facts alleged in a complaint do not stand up – even to the most basic form of analysis, as Mr Adoke himself, not to mention the police could have determined from material in the public domain – and yet when they continue to be used as the pretext to harass, we must call this out for the corrupt exercise, in the absence of a better explanation, that it would appear to be.
“The harassment of Mr Suraju and the continued targeting of HEDA, without any credible basis, must end now. We will make it our business to inform all in the global community who care about and support Nigeria’s fight against corruption about these events, and we will continue to monitor and report on them. We stand together with our colleagues at RE: Common and The Corner House in Solidarity with HEDA.”
Taylor also alleged that a complaint made by Adoke, which is highly defamatory, referred not only to HEDA but also Global Witness and its other partners.
The complaint read, “Individuals who initiated the petition at the court of Milan engaged in acts of forgery of [an] email document dated 21 June, 2011 and [a] phoney telephone interview alleged to have occurred between Ms Carlamaria Rumor (RIA [sic] reporter in Italy) and Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) with the unlawful aim of subverting the wheel of justice at the [then] ongoing criminal trial of the parties connected with the OPL 245 settlement agreement in Italy and Nigeria.”
It continues, “We have reason to believe that the persons or organisations behind these forgeries are the ones that authored the petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), demanding an investigation of the OPL 245 Resolution Agreement.”
Taylor said though the complaint does not specifically name anyone but given that Global Witness and other partners, Re: Common in Italy, and The Corner House in the UK, are the organisations that filed the petitions related to the OPL 245 case in Milan, and to the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), “there can be no doubt that the complaint is referring to our organisations. If that were to be the case, each of our organisations utterly refutes these claims which are wholly untrue. Given the status of our organisations as internationally renowned anti-corruption champions, these published claims are also highly defamatory.”
He stated that Suraj’s invitation to the office of the Inspector General of Police in Abuja was unnecessary and though Suraj took the trip, he was subjected to rigorous interrogation (which was more like harassment) that lasted for hours.
Global Witness also insisted that Eni must be tried in Nigeria under Nigerian laws.
The statement read, “In summary, as Eni well knows, they involve different characters, who face different charges, under different laws. Italy does not possess sovereign control over Nigeria, and thus Nigeria continuing to exercise its sovereign rights cannot be seen as a slight to Italy’s sovereignty. As such, and without the possibility of double jeopardy, it is self-evident that the cases in Nigeria should be permitted to continue to their natural conclusion.”
SaharaReporters, New York