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HURIWA mulls death penalty bill to check graft

huriwa-logoCondemns presidential screening of judges, smear campaign against Anyim, others
TO strengthen deterrence, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) said it would propose a bill on death penalty for anyone convicted of stealing from the public purse.

National Coordinator of the group, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, told newsmen in Abuja yesterday that HURIWA would be sending a draft of the proposed legislation to the National Assembly when it reconvenes next month.

Onwubiko disclosed that the proposed bill would specifically target those who steal public funds meant for essential services, especially in the health, education, roads, water, electricity and defence. He applauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s ongoing anti-graft campaign, though faulting the handpicking of judges for cases involving corrupt persons.

Warning against the breach of the constitution and the principle of separation of powers, he noted that such measures are tantamount to the President operating like a monarch keen to usurp the duties of the judiciary. He added: “We can’t allow the nation go through jungle justice any more.

“We do not see any merit in the President setting up a panel to screen judges in a bid to get the incorruptible ones. As the head of the executive arm, he doesn’t have the power to screen judges. This is a democracy. He cannot confer on himself the powers unknown in our constitution.”

Onwubiko also enjoined Buhari to be wary of those keen on undermining top government functionaries in former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration merely to settle political scores.

He cited the recent claims by the former Chairman of NEPZA, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, against the former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, on the Abuja Centenary City project as a deliberate attempt to smear the good names of officers that served in Jonathan’s government.

According to him, a two-week independent investigation by 27 non-governmental bodies on the platform of HURIWA and the Association of African Writers on Human and Peoples Rights (AFRIRIGHTS) on the issue found that Anyim complied with due process.

The findings include that on March 6, 2015, Anyim wrote to Jonathan on the “despicable conduct of the former Chairman of NEPZA, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, which has threatened not only the operations of NEPZA but indeed its image before many international investors that do business with the agency.”

More so, the allegations were independently investigated by then Chief of Staff and found weighty enough that Jonathan, on April 29, 2015, removed Ojougboh as chairman of NEPZA and made him chairman of the Nomadic Education Commission, it added.

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