44 — VANGUARD, THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2018 ELECTION RIGGING: Should Mantu be prosecuted or not? By By Abdulwahab Abdulah Recently, the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Mantu publicly declared that his political party, People's Democratic Party, PDP, engaged in rigging elections to get its candidates, especially the Presidents, to win at the polls. Since he made the statement,which amount to confession, tongues have been wagging, calling for his arrest and prosecution in line with the nation’s criminal laws. Specifically, looking at sections 60-87 of the Evidence Act, it deals with the issues surrounding admissions, confessions and circumstances under which statements made by someone can be admissible or amount to admission under the Evidence Act. Vanguard Law and Human Rights seeks prominent lawyers’ opinions on the issue. Excerpts: CHIEF Mike Ozekhome, SAN “Senator Ibrahim Mantu publicly confessed to a crime in a bid to discredit his political party that he rode on its shoulders to power, up to being the Deputy Senate President. It was Ibrahim Mantu who spearheaded President Olusegun Obasanjo’s failed third term bid. Since he has confessed for committing a crime, the law should take its course and get him prosecuted immediately. “Looking at it, there are ample provisions in the Evidence Act and Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, allowing prosecution of a self-confessed criminal. The law should be applied and see him brought to justice.” Mr Babatunde Fasanu, SAN, said, “It is not all that easy the way it looks. In the first instance, this man was not making this statement or confession under caution, which is the foundation of such statement to be admissible in evidence for such criminal case. Yes, he made the statement in public which is recorded, but the purpose of securing conviction by the prosecution with such statement will be defeated. Assuming he is taken to court and he denies or says it was just a mere statement, how would the prosecution secure conviction based on that? It would not be possible. So, my view is that he cannot be successfully prosecuted under these circumstances. What the government can do is to invite him, find out the modalities on how such acts of rigging are carried out. This will enable •IGP Ibrahim Idris them to find a way of checkmating future occurrences. Gbenga Ojo, a senior law lecturer in Lagos State University, LASU, queried: “Charge him for what? How do you sustain the charge? Has he been invited by the police? Has there been investigation aside the ‘ confession” or say,” media confession? Don’t forget that the burden on the state is to prove beyond reasonable doubt. Who is the complainant in the case? INEC or the Police or who? I do not think that conviction can be secured solely on ‘media confession.’ What is the evidence that the government has to prosecute him? In what aspect of rigging did he participate as admitted by him? What type of election, the date of the election and the mode of the rigging the prosecution wants to point to in its prosecution of the case? There are lots of holes to be plugged in line with the laws guiding criminal prosecution. So, mere making statement by someone cannot and will not guarantee his conviction. To me, the idea of prosecuting Mantu cannot fly under the law. Lagos lawyer and rights activist, Mr. Jiti Ogunye stated: “The statement made by former deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, to the effect that he had, in the past, participated Assuming he is taken to court and he denies or says it was just a mere statement, how would the prosecution secure conviction based on that? •Senator Ibrahim Mantu in or facilitated the rigging of elections by his political party, the PDP, is not sufficient to make him liable to immediate criminal prosecution. We will argue that, having regards to our criminal laws and criminal procedure laws, including the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, and the Evidence Act, 2011, Mantu’s statement does not amount to a “voluntarily made confessional statement “ that can be used to secure the conviction of a criminal defendant in a criminal prosecution or adjudication. “Mantu’ s statement was not made in the course of a criminal investigation. In a typical criminal investigation, a criminal suspect is confronted with specific allegations, and he is made to write a statement under caution wherein he could make the confessional statement. If the confessional statement is recorded, same has to be done in satisfaction of the requirements of law, including the presence of the suspect’s lawyer. “And in spite of all these steps, a demurring criminal defendant may still resile from the confessional statement at trial and challenge the voluntariness of the statement. It can thus be seen that Mantu’ s statement may not have any evidential value. However, the law enforcement agencies may invite him and we will suggest that the police should invite Mantu for questioning. The INEC, the Police and the DSS that we assume are keen on stamping out electoral malpractice should be interested in “debriefing” Mantu and get useful insights into the “art and science” of electoral malpractice in Nigeria from him. “If and when they are able to extract sufficient particulars and facts from him , in terms of when, where and how , and who were involved and the money, if any, that was involved, a decision can then be taken, in the public interest, to proceed against him. After all, generally, except in certain cases, time does not run against the State in investigation and prosecution of crimes. In conclusion, Mantu’ s statement calls for the commencement of a criminal investigation, the public statement, in its own and without more, cannot ground a criminal prosecution, let alone sustain a criminal conviction.” Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, legal practitioner and executive director of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, said, “The self confession can be taken up against Senator Ibrahim Mantu. Self confession or confession of any crime is a legitimate way of admission of crime. But it is also clear in law that the prosecution still has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt as this is the standard all admission or confession will pass through notwithstanding. So, the issue goes beyond his confession that he participated in rigging of elections.” A law lecturer, Mr Wahab Shittu added his voice and stated: “How do you treat confession bordering on criminality? Do you treat such confession with kid gloves or you apply the law? Senator Mantu on the strength of his voluntary confession of having subverted the people’s will should be arraigned immediately and prosecuted. However, this has to follow due process by being invited by the police to state how such riggings were carried out and his roles in such act. The police needs to gather evidence for his prosecution. Former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA Ikeja chapter, Dave Ajetunmobi has this to say: “Mantu's case is a straight case of criminal confession to a crime. For confession to be binding, it must be voluntary. Mantu’s confession was voluntary. Confession must be unequivocal, Mantu’s confession was unequivocal. It must not have been caused by inducement, threat or promise coming from person in authority. Mantu's confession was not due to inducement, threat or promise from person in authority. Consequently, he has a case to answer. He can be charged for rigging the election according to his confession, that is after he has been invited by the police, his statement taken, or a complaint lodged by a Nigerian, showing that he committed the offence or a petition written to that effect to the police.”
Truck drivers dare Navy, LASG: Lock down Oshodi/Apapa Expressway *NUPENG blames NPA for chaos *NPA expresses helplessness By Victor Ahiuma- Young, Evelyn Usman,Godwin Oritse, Godfery Bivbere & Olasunkanmi Akoni IN an apparent defiance to the ultimatum given by the Nigerian Navy to truck drivers to vacate Lagos roads and bridges, following the perennial gridlock , particularly along the Apapa/Oshodi expressway, truck drivers locked down the ever-busy expressway through out yesterday. The traffic situation which worsened last week, has taken an alarming dimension since Monday, as truck drivers virtually took over both the major expressway and service lanes on both sides. For the first time in a long while, motorists spent over 12 hours between Second Rainbow to Berger Under bridge, a situation that overwhelmed policemen and officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority , LASTMA. The officials were sighted sweating profusely under the sun as they watched the helpless situation. Accusation, counter-accusation On its part, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NU- PENG, heaped the blame for the gridlock on the door step of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, saying that the management of NPA was not bothered about the gridlock. Lagos zonal Chairman of NUPENG, Mr. Tayo Aboyeji, told Vanguard that NPA knew what to do to ease the gridlock both temporarily and permanently, but had refused to do the needful for reason best known to it. According to him: “We are tired of saying the same thing over and over again without action. I have told you before and I still maintain that tankers you see on that road are trapped on their way to the tank farms. Gone are those days when tanker drivers came from the far north or South-South to Lagos to lift products. Today, most depots outside Lagos are working so tanker drivers outside Lagos have no reason to come to Lagos to lift fuel. “But those you see in the gridlock are simply trapped. The management of NPA is solely responsible for the gridlock. It has little to do with road construction or bad road. I can tell you that even if the road construction is finished today, the gridlock will not ease. If you like, construct 10 lanes, it will not solve anything. The NPA knows what to do. The Lagos Ports are congested. Until they are decongested, we will continue to live with it. “Why has NPA failed to ensure the maximum use of other ports like Warri, Calabar, Onne, and Port Harcourt? Why has NPA refused to ensure that shipping companies and other have holding bays to take in used containers? Why has NPA refused to sanction shipping companies flouting directives on holding bays? What about the terminal operators, what has NPA done to ensure that they take-in used containers? Most of the trucks you see on the road are carrying used containers they are returning to the ports. NPA does not care about the suffering those living and doing businesses on that road are passing through daily. It is very sad and unfortunate. Nigeria should hold NPA responsible”, Aboyeji said. Meanwhile, contrary to the seven days ultimatum by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, to shipping companies and terminal operators to provide holding bays for their empty containers, the stakeholders have refused to comply, a development that has further worsen the traffic gridlock on the Apapa –Oshodi Expressway. Efforts to speak with the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, proved abortive as she neither picked her call nor responded to text messages sent to her on the issue. But Assistant General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Ibrahim Suwaid, told Vanguard that it is not true that NPA gave an ultimatum to the shipping companies and terminal operators to provide holding bays but only advised them to do so. According to him: “It was not an ultimatum, they were only advised to use their own holding bay. I remember there was the issue about Measkline then, when it was reported that they have been given an ultimatum to leave the country. We said no, they were only encouraged to use their holding bay.” On what they are doing concerning the disregard for the advice to the shipping companies and terminal operators to use their own holding bays, Suwaid said he was going to connect Executive Director Marine and Traffic jam caused by trucks on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway The management of NPA is solely responsible for the gridlock. It has little to do with road construction or bad road. I can tell you that even if the road construction is finished today, the gridlock will not ease Operations whether they have a response to that. Similarly, former Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Maritime matters, Mr. Leke Oyewole, blamed the non provision of alternative routes in and out of the Apapa area of Lagos as the cause for the disruption of businesses and port activities that are impacting negatively on the economy. Speaking to Vanguard on the development in Lagos, Oyewole said that closing the Apapa-Wharf bridge without proving alternative routes is a major problem for the country, adding that the government ought to have thought of this before announcing the closure of the road. He however suggested the rehabilitation of the waterways and rail lines in and within Lagos to ease of the movement of people and goods. “We had tried it before now and the movement of cargoes from Lagos ports to Ikorodu was done so effortlessly that we saw as an alternative to moving cargo out of the ports. The Federal Government should explore other areas of ameliorating the suffering of people and their businesses in Apapa” he added. Similarly, the National President of the National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, Mr. Lucky Amiwero, said that his association had petitioned the Presidency on the need to conclude the palliative works on the Tin-Can Island road axis before the closure of the road. In the petition, dated April 9, 2018, Amiwero said that “The proposed closure of the Ijora Apapa Wharf Bridge, without the rehabilitation of Tincan Island road axis that connects the four major Ports in Lagos, will greatly affect the movement of goods into and out of the Ports, which will lead to closing down of operation in the four major Ports in Lagos.” Part of the petition reads: “We wish to bring to the attention of the Federal Government, the economic implication of the proposed closure of the Ijora Apapa wharf bridge for four months “There is an urgent need to conclude the palliative work on the Tincan Island road axis of the Apapa Oshodi Express Way, before the closure of the Ijora Apapa Wharf bridge that is used as holding bay to en-route to Apapa Port, which puts pressure on the bridge. “The propose closure of the Ijora Apapa Wharf Bridge, without the rehabilitation of Tincan Island road axis that connects the four major Ports in Lagos, will greatly affect the movement of goods into and out of the Ports, which will lead to close down of operation in the four major Ports in Lagos. “Lagos ports might be declared force majeure, due tooperational difficulties in going in and out of the Port, which will necessitate shipping lines to divert cargos to neighboring West African Vanguard, THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2018 — 45 Ports, to reduce stay time of ships and cargos. “The Tincan Island axis of the Port access road, should be rehabilitated, with part of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) allocation of the 7% Surcharge on Port Development Levy(PDL) in line with the provision of the Port Act Section 32-(a), which conferred authority to NPA, for the Maintenance, control and management of the Port Roads.” Meanwhile, terminal operators at the ports in Lagos have threatened to declare a force majeure following planned closure of Wharf Road, Apapa, Lagos by A.G. Dangote Construction Company Limited for four weeks. Force majeure is a common clause in contracts that essentially frees a party from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the party and which prevents the party from fulfilling its obligations under the contract, occurs. A.G. Dangote Construction Company recently announced plans to close both sides of the Wharf Road inward and outward Apapa for four weeks, while the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing also announced plans to shut the Marine Bridge in Apapa for permanent repairs. The Federal Controller of Works, Lagos, Adedamola Kuti, while speaking in Lagos on Sunday said Julius Berger Plc., the contractor handling the bridge repair was ready to move to site. However, sources close to some terminal operators at the Lagos Port Complex Apapa and at the Tin Can Island Port Complex, both in Lagos, disclosed that the operators are considering totally shutting down operation while the road closure lasts. The Lagos Port Complex Apapa has four terminal operators namely Apapa Bulk Terminal, ENL Consortium, Greenview Development and APM Terminals while Tin Can Island Port has five operators namely Tin Can Island Container Terminal, Port and Cargo, Josephdam, Five Star Logistics and PTML. A source at one of the terminals at Tin Can said, “The situation is bad enough as it is. At present, less than forty percent of the cargoes that should go out of the port is taken out because of the bad state of the road. To now close the road totally will spell doom for the whole port system. “It will mean a total shut down. The best option for us then is to also shut down and declare force majeure. This means we will not be liable to paying throughput fees or any other fees to government while the road closure lasts. “Terminal operators are already groaning and suffering for no fault of theirs. The suffering, huge loss of revenue and the untold hardship foisted on our workers by a dysfunctional system will be compounded if the road is closed.” We have a serious challenge on Apapa traffic gridlock -LASTMA boss When contacted, the General Manager, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, Wale Musa, described the situation as "unfortunate", saying that the challenge it posed to the authority and the state "is quite enormous." “He, however, gave a ray of hope that the situation will soon be a thing of the past as government was already working out a way to permanently end the ugly traffic situation in the area.“ According to Musa: "We are not unaware of the terrible traffic situation in Apapa. Though, we have our men stationed there on a daily basis for traffic control, but I must confess the challenge is quite enormous. The situation is so unfortunate. “The activities at the ports and tank farms have made a destination points for the influx of both tankers and containerized vehicles.The present situation that the people are experiencing is made worse by the on-going construction of road at the corridor which aimed at improving traffic movement when completed.I want to assure the general public, particularly, the users of the road in the axis that by the middle of this year, there will be no such traffic gridlock because the present administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, has begun moves to tackle the menace and make the traffic in the area a seamless one.“ "I just want to implore residents and road users to bear with the state government. There is no gain without pain. Very soon all these will be a thing of the past forever."