Kukah tackles FG
December 28, 2006 | posted by Nigerian Muse (Archives)

Oputa report: Kukah tackles FG

Stanley Yakubu

A prominent member of the Oputa panel, Rev. Father Matthew Hassan Kukah, on Saturday accused the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi (SAN) of being economical with the truth over the Federal Government’s refusal to release the report of the panel.

Kukah, who spoke to Sunday Punch in Kaduna, challenged the minister to prove to Nigerians that a court competent jurisdiction actually stalled the implementation of the recommendation of the panel.

The challenge from the fiery and vocal cleric came against the background of a recent claim by the AG that the Federal Government had jettisoned the report of the panel because of a court order on the legality of the panel.

The Human Rights Investigation and Violation Commission (HRIVC), otherwise called the Oputa panel was headed by retired Justice Chukwudifu Oputa.

Three former Heads of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar had turned down summons from the panel to appear before it over charges on violation of human rights.

The former leaders went to court seeking an order restraining the panel from compelling them to appear before it.

Kukah emphatically said the Attorney General needs to convince Nigerians that government was hamstrung in implementing the recommendations of the panel because of a court judgement.

He said he was not aware of the judgement of any court of competent jurisdiction restraining the government from releasing the report.

“Like I have said before, there is no order from any court to stop the government from making the report public.

“I have heard that the Attorney General, Olujimi, claimed that, that court has stopped the government from doing so.

“I challenge Olujimi to come out and tell Nigerians which court and what exactly the court said about Oputa report.”

He said it was not true that the Supreme Court ruled against the authorities from releasing the report.

“The Supreme Court did not say or stop the Federal Government from releasing the Oputa panel report.”

Speaking on the volume of work done by the panel, Kukah said: “What a magazine published recently may be just one tenth of what we submitted.

“We received over 10,000 submissions and submitted about 15,000 pages as report which is contained in eight volumes.”

The former Secretary General at the Catholic Secreteriat Nigeria said, members of the panel has performed their national assignment based on the terms of reference of the panel and asked anyone dissatisfied with government action on the reports to go to court.

“I was, like others, called upon by the government to work in the panel, and that we have done to the best of my knowledge.

“I think, it is the duty of Nigerians and not that of the panel members, either to go to court to compel the government to release the report, or to forget it.

“In some countries, such panels are set up to achieve three reasons: one, to identify culprits and punish them; two, to identify them and make the public know about them and their crimes against their country and people; and three, to just know about their crimes and keep them either in museums or libraries for reference.”

SUNDAY PUNCH, December 12, 2004

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