15 Aug 2011

Jonathan resists pressure to stop al-Mustapha’s trial

THE President has rejected pleas to pull the brakes on Major Hamza al-Mustapha’s trial, presidential spokesman Rueben Abati said yesterday.


Abati said there has been pressure in some quarters for the trial to be stopped because of the number of years al-Mustapha has spent in detention. The suspect was arrested in 1998.

Abati said the court should be allowed to do its job, adding that as an ardent believer in the rule of law, President Goodluck Jonathan will allow the trial to run its course.


He also reminded those agitating for amnesty for al-Mustapha that the matter is between the Lagos State government and the defendants in the case. Abati said: “This is a matter that is before the court and this is also a matter that was instituted by the Lagos State authorities. Now, this is the same country where we talk about the rule of law and allow the law to take its due course and this is the same country where we talk about federalism; this is the same country where we frown at political leaders interfering with judicial process.


“I am curious that the same Nigerians who will say all this will turn around and say because
a particular case is sensational, the President should wake up and put an end to it.  I think that may not be a very good suggestion. The right thing to do is to allow the law to take its course.  And that matter is before a court of competent jurisdiction. “And you know Mr. President has always talked about the rule of law and he has made it clear that he will not do anything that will amount to violation of the rule of law.” 

Abati also said the President will receive the report of the Boko Haram committee on Tuesday. “The Boko Haram report is to be submitted shortly and the President will react to it because security is what the President takes very seriously” but, not all that is included in the report will be discussed publicly because it is a security matter.


Such a report will not be swept under the carpet, considering the membership of the committee, which put it together, Abati said. His words: “On the Boko Haram report that will be submitted shortly, you can be confident that Mr. President will act on the recommendations. You note that on the issue of Boko Haram, there has been a lot of consultations.


“The President has met with various stakeholders, that committee was then set up as a follow up and what has been established clearly is that security in any part of Nigeria is something that the President takes very seriously.”


He said because the President is yet to visit Maiduguri since the escalation of the crisis is no proof that he has not shown enough concern. He said: “Saying the President must visit Maiduguri is not the same as saying that the President has shown enough concern.  The only thing is that everything is attributed to the President. Nigerians expect so much from the President. His not visiting Maiduguri doesn’t show that he has no concern about the situation. Every security chief has been there and there are reports of efforts being made to address the matter. Meetings have been held with people from that part of the country, but people want the President to go there physically.”


Abati said: “He is the President who has the common touch. Don’t forget in terms of his background, he is one of those we can relate to. The secret of his success is that he is not far removed from the people.” He reiterated the President’s position on accountability, transparency and openness in governance, adding that no government functionary would be protected from the law, if found wanting.


“The President has the reputation of not interfering with agencies’ processes of handling corruption cases,” Abati said.

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