United States senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy, has raised concerns about the charges and trial of the Chairman of Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), Olanrewaju Suraju by the Nigerian government.
Leahy on Sunday noted that Suraju had been a “brave voice against corruption” and the Nigerian judiciary must strive to uphold the rule of law in the matter.
SaharaReporters had earlier today reported that the Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Binta Nyako will on Monday preside over the cyberstalking charge preferred against Suraj by the Nigerian government.
A former Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke, one of those accused of and charged with fraud in the OPL245 scam, also referred to as Malabu scandal, had petitioned the police.
Adoke had accused those behind the petitions resulting in his prosecution for corruption and money laundering that they circulated fabricated evidence against him to unduly incriminate him in the multi-million dollar scandal.
Patrick Leahy, an American politician and attorney who is the senior US senator and president pro tempore of the US Senate, on Twitter, said, “I and others in Washington are concerned with the charges against Olanrewaju Suraju who has been a brave voice against corruption. We look to Nigeria’s judiciary to uphold the rule of law and freedom of expression.”
I and others in Washington are concerned with the charges against Olanrewaju Suraju who has been a brave voice against corruption. We look to Nigeriaâs judiciary to uphold the rule of law and freedom of expression.— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) January 21, 2022
SaharaReporters had learnt on Sunday that the trial would hold Monday as human rights and anti-corruption activists prepare to storm the courts in solidarity with Suraju.
A notice titled, "Corruption Fighting Back- Comrade Lanre Suraju vs Adoke and the FGN" obtained on Sunday had read, "Dear friends and colleagues, this is to inform/ invite you in solidarity in the case of cyberstalking against the Chair of HEDA Resource Centre, brought against him by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, hiding under a petition written by a former fugitive and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.
"It was alleged that he (Suraj) forged a document used in Milan and London courts in the ongoing OPL 245 trials. Comrade Suraj will be arraigned at the Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday 24th of January, 2022. He will appear before Justice Binta Nyako by 10am on Monday.
"This is to invite comrades and friends and all anti corruption activists to come out in solidarity with him. Aluta continua, Victoria Ascerta."
The notice was signed by Eze Alloysius for the activists.
SaharaReporters had in November 2021 reported that the subject of Adoke’s petition was forgery of an email in which Nigeria, as a sovereign state was short-changed to the tune of $1.1billion and HEDA and its international partners had been involved in the advocacy for recovery of this money and prosecution of principal actors behind the heist.
However, HEDA and Suraju denied any wrongdoing in a series of statements issued on the matter, stating that the items they were accused of fabricating featured as exhibits in the Malabu Oil scam trials in London, UK and Milan, Italy.
The Nigerian government, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation recently filed four counts in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/370/2021, accusing Suraju of using his social media handles as well as emails and audio interviews to circulate false information on Adoke.
But in a preliminary objection to the suit against him, Suraju, through his counsel, M.A. Banire & Associates led by Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN), sought the dismissal of the suit, stating that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the charge against him.