Falana: Border Closure Illegal, Immoral, Can’t Guarantee Food Security

Border post, sourced from Premium Times

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*FG punishing millions of community citizens for offence of few smugglers
The closure of the nation’s borders and plans to introduce hate speech bill have been described as illegal.
Lagos lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) who said this maintained that the closure of the border cannot guarantee food security and economic development in the country.
Falana said government is being misled on the border closure.
Speaking in Ilawe Ekiti, his country home during the burial ceremony of Mrs Ibijola Falana, the human rights lawyer said it was wrong for President Muhammadu Buhari to close the borders indefinitely without considering the hardship this has on many Nigerians.
He said, “I don’t support the closure because it is illegal, immoral and economically senseless. It cannot be defended under the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Goods. Punishing millions of community citizens for the offence of a few smugglers is immoral. Contrary to the claim by the federal government that smuggling has stopped, the criminals involved in the nefarious trade have merely changed tactics.
“Following incessant trans-border crimes including armed robberies and smuggling of vehicles from Nigeria to Benin Republic in 2003, the Olusegun Obasanjo administration closed the land border between Nigeria and Benin Republic for about a week. Before the border closure, the federal government had investigated and confirmed that one Mr. Ahmadu Tijanni, a highly influential citizen of Niger Republic based in Cotonu was the mastermind of the trans-border criminal activities. Even though he was a sacred cow in Benin Republic, Mr. Tijanni was arrested by a team of the Nigeria Police.
“Tidjani was tried, convicted and jailed for armed robbery by the Ogun State High Court. In view of the fact that the customs service in Benin Republic is hampered from collaborating with its Nigerian counterpart to stop the smuggling of goods from Benin Republic to Nigeria, the federal government ought to have reported President Patrice Talon for using private company to manage its customs affairs. This is the only way to stop smuggling, not border closure alone.”
Falana also described the bill for hate speech was illegal as the National Assembly lacked the powers to promulgate such law.
He explained that the such powers was not captured under the exclusive and concurrent lists of the 1999 constitution.
According to him, “The attention of the National Assembly members ought to have been drawn to the fact that the Penal Code and Criminal Code applicable in the Northern and Southern states respectively have made provisions for hate speech because it is a state offence. Hence, the House of Assembly of each of the state has enacted laws against incitement, false accusation, sedition and criminal defamation. No doubt, the constitutional validity of the hate speech bill will be challenged in court if it is passed by the national assembly and assented to by President Buhari.
“Unfortunately, while the attention of Nigerians is fully concentrated on the hate speech bill, the state governors are using the Terrorism Prevention Act, Cybercrime Act, penal code and criminal code to suppress press freedom and freedom of expression in the country. The authorities of Cross River State, Akwa Ibom State, Kano State, Kaduna State, Katsina State, Delta State and Zamfara State have charged the opponents of their governors with criminal offences including terrorism and treasonable felony.
“Two students were rusticated by the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, and Taraba State University for exercising their freedom of expression via social media. State governors who are waging such reckless attacks on freedom of expression ought to be exposed and fought”

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