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Lawyer Condemns Oath Of Secrecy, Says It Is Illegal

October 30, 2020

Ugwumadu said it contravened the independence of the panel as the youth demanded.

Human rights lawyer, Malachy Ugwumadu, has described as illegal the oath of secrecy members of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry in Lagos were forced to swear to the governor.

Ugwumadu said it contravened the independence of the panel as the youth demanded.


He further wondered what would happen when the governor comes before the committee since members had sworn loyalty to the panel.

“The oath of secrecy identifies the persons to take it and expressly provides that it will be sworn before a head of ministry or a person authorised in that before.

“Certainly that cannot be the governor even if the heads of the ministries who are the respective commissioners may be appointed by the governor. Thus, from the standpoint of the law, the oaths administered or sought to be administered by the governor are illegal.”

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Temitope Majekodunmi, one of the youth representatives on the panel, had on Tuesday posted the oath of secrecy on his Twitter handle, sparking outrage among Nigerians.

Ugwumadu said if the oath was sworn, the impartiality of the panel would have been brought into question.

The two youth representatives, Rinu Oduaya and Majekodunmi, refused to sign the oath.

BBC Pidgin reported on Tuesday that the two youth reps, however, signed an undertaken not to reveal anything said in the chamber.

A source further stated that the undertaken was signed to protect the identity and statements made by victims.

“Without prejudice to the very essence and purpose of oaths of secrecy administered on persons which is to preserve classified information and materials in the management of the affairs of government, any such oath to be sworn before the governor and not the Attorney-General of the state as the head of the relevant Ministry of Justice immediately communicates the posture and signal of loyalty to the governor and Government of Lagos State. This is contrary to the conditions of independence, transparency, neutrality and impartiality demanded by the youths and promised in the interests of Justice and for this exercise.

“In any case, it is likely that, at some point and given the circumstances of this inquiry, Mr Governor himself may be required to testify or give evidence (maybe by proxy in view of the immunity he enjoys under S. 308 of the 1999 constitution) or even send memoranda or petition. At that point, where will the Independence and impartiality of the panel be when members of the panel have sworn all manners of oaths including that of secrecy to him?”

The sitting which will take place on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for the next six months, is being streamed online by different platforms.

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