BENIN CITY, NIGERIA. April 19, 2021… The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has flayed the arrest and detention of the Chairman of the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Mr. Olanrewaju Suraj by the Nigeria Police over his alleged role in ensuring that perpetrators of Malabu oil deal which fleeced the nation of over $1.1bn were made to face the law and demands for his immediate and unconditional release from detention.
Executive Director of ANEEJ Rev David Ugolor in a press statement issued today, said the arrest of the anti-corruption activist by the Police for his doggedness to bring reprobates that allegedly perpetrated corruption which coated the sale of the contentious OPL 124 oil block otherwise known as Malabu oil deals was reprehensible.
“We strongly condemn the harassment, arrest and detention of the anti-graft activist, Olarenwaju Suraj based on a mere petition by an accused former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Bello Adoke who was said to have petitioned the Nigeria Police alleging that Suraj was part of those who forged documents against him (Adoke) while the case was going on in a Milan, Italy court. The petitioner is currently standing trial in Nigeria and Italy for his alleged role in the fleecing of Nigeria to the tune of $1.1billion,” Ugolor said wondering if that was the proper or legal thing for the police to do.
“We recall that the said amount was reportedly paid into an Escrow Account of Nigeria, but was alleged to have been paid as bribes to top officials of the then government of Goodluck Jonathan and all through the investigations by the anti-graft agencies, Adoke and other top government officials were fingered as being complicit in perpetrating the crime against our fatherland. You can not turn riound and start arresting those who petitioned while the issue is still pending in a court of law. Judgement has not been delivered. On what premise is the police acting now? Ugolor queried.
“If you received a petition from Mr. Adoke against Suraj, what you need do is to investigate the matter and if even found to be true before you consider arrest and immediately charge the matter to court based on credible evidence. But that doesn’t seem to be the case in the arrest and detention of Mr. Suraj. You don’t arrest a man, keep him in your custody and begin to shop for evidence. We are concerned that the action of the police appears to be a deliberate attempt to silence the activist in an administration that is championing war against corruption. This is sad, ” Ugolor said, calling on the Police to release him immediately.
The arrest of Comrade Olarenwaju Suraj for his leading role in ensuring that suspects in Malabu Oil deal were made to face the law, for which the United Kingdom has returned over 50 thousand pounds to the Nigerian Government, Ugolor said, will be resisted by Nigerian Civil Society community and called on the Nigeria Police not play to the gallery of the rich and powerful in this matter.
Ugolor further called on the new Inspector General of Police, Mr. Baba Usman Alkali not to allow his tenure to be tainted with unpopular actions such as arrest and detention of anti-corruption crusaders for their activists’ roles.