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Mike Ozekhome gives take on Pantami issue

Mike Ozekhome, SAN, a constitutional lawyer and Human Rights Activist, has faulted the President Muhammadu Buhari-led presidency for defending the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, amid alleged links to terrorist organisations

Mike Ozekhome

Mike Ozekhome, in a statement he issued on Friday, claimed that even though Pantami committed the alleged terrorist acts before the passing of the Terrorism (Prevention Amendment) Act 2013, the Minister could be prosecuted under Section 46 of the EFCC Act, 2004.

Recall that Pantami was accused of being sympathetic to terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Boko Haram.

The allegation had irked Nigerians who have been calling for Pantami’s sack and prosecution in the past few days.

Following the backlash, Pantami had denied links to the terrorists’ organisations but admitted making some remarks sympathetic towards them.

The Minister, however, declared that his perception has changed for good.

Despite the backlash, the Presidency threw its weight behind Pantami while berating Nigerians for being too harsh on him and other Buhari’s appointees.

Reacting,Mike  Ozekhome insisted that Patami can be charged for terrorist activities.

Ozekhome’s statement read in part: “The combustible and inflammable comments of Pantami no doubt were intended to cause fear or make any government or bodies abandon a standpoint, induce fear in the public or government, etc. He can be charged under the EFCC Act.

“Pantami can’t, therefore, be prosecuted under the Terrorism Act because his alleged terrorist acts occurred prior to the enactment of the Terrorism Act. The Terrorism Act doesn’t have a retroactive or retrospective Act.

“This is Nigerians’ great worry, Mallam Shehu. Don’t run away from the substance and pursue the shadow. Please, face the real issues at stake.

“Pantami can be charged for terrorist activities, because terrorism includes ‘support’ for; and ‘support’ includes (in the words of the Act) ‘incitement to commit a terrorist act through the internet or any electronic means or through the use of printed materials or through the dissemination of terrorist information’.

“Where he fails or refuses to do so (as I know he would), then President Buhari should sack him. Where Buhari refuses (as I know he would), then, any and every Nigerian or NGO that feels sufficiently concerned and aggrieved can approach the courts and ask for an Order of Mandamus, to compel the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, to prosecute Pantami, by virtue of section 174 of the 199 Constitution.

“Every Nigerian has the right (locus standi) to do this. The Nigerian Supreme Court has laid this to rest as far back as 1981 in the causa celebre (celebrated case) of Senator Abraham Adesanya vs President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1981) JELR 54679 (SC).”

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