Lagos Lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) yesterday said the panel of inquiry allegedly set up by the First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan over the missing 200 schoolgirls from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, April 19 was illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.
To this end, he said the panel should immediately be disbanded without any further delay.
The human rights activist, who urged President Goodluck Jonathan not to trivialize the abduction of the innocent girls in the interest of our collective sensibility and public morality, said the comment credited to “some people”, including the President’s wife, Patience, that “no child was missing”, was “incendiary” and capable of deepening the agony of the abducted children’s parents.
He said, “President Goodluck Jonathan should ensure that the abduction of the innocent girls is not further trivialised in the interest of our collective sensibility and public morality.”
Falana described as insensitive for some highly placed persons to insist that there was no missing child despite the step by the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, to publish some the abducted girls’ names.
“In spite of the inauguration of the Presidential Committee to investigate the abduction of the over 200 girls and the publication of the names of about 185 of the missing girls by the Christian Association of Nigeria some political leaders have insisted that no child has been abducted.
“Such level of insensitivity is being displayed by highly placed persons at a time that the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau has admitted that the criminal sect abducted the innocent girls and threatened that they would be sold into slavery.”
He wondered why the government’s accepting of international aid to rescue the children if truly the girls were not missing.
“Why has the Federal Government accepted the offer of the United States’ Government to join in the frivolous -search for the girls since they are no longer missing?
“No doubt, the incendiary statements credited to certain people to the effect that ‘no child is missing’, must have accentuated the agony of the parents of the abducted some of whom had taken part in street demonstrations to demand ‘Bring Back Our Girls’.”
To this end, he asked the President to disband the committee set up by Patience to investigate the incident arguing that she had no power to do so, adding, “even the one set up by the President himself for the same purpose could best serve as a “ministerial act” and never as a Commission of Inquiry.
According to him, the Supreme Court had held in its judgment “in Fawehinmi v. Babangida (2003) 3 NWLR (PT 808) 604 that the power of the President to set up a Commission of Inquiry is limited to the Federal Capital Territory by virtue of the Tribunal of Inquiry Act (CAP T21 ) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
He said, “Therefore, the Committee set up by the President and inaugurated on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 to probe the abduction of the girls is best a minister But the First Lady has no power whatsoever to institute a panel to investigate any matter in any part of Nigeria.
“To that extent, the panel of inquiry alleged to have been set up by the First Lady is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void. It should be disbanded without any further delay.” [Vanguard]