The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives Mr Yakubu Dogara to urgently withdraw the directives to some banks to unfreeze the accounts of former First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan.
“The directive to banks to unfreeze Mrs Jonathan’s accounts was patently unconstitutional and amounts to mingling of the executive and judicial powers in the National Assembly. Checks and balances should ideally help contribute to the rule of law and strengthening our democratic dispensation but if one branch of government grows too strong and overreaching, the country might be in trouble,” the organisation said in a statement signed by SERAP deputy director Timothy Adewale.
The organization added that rather than helping Mrs Jonathan’s desire to achieve justice for what she might consider to be violations of her human rights, such directives were doing exactly the opposite and politicising the criminal justice process.
The Senate had last week decided that Mrs Jonathan’s accounts should be unfrozen, saying that some of the accounts including those with Stanbic IBTC, First Bank, Union Bank, Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank, Ecobank and Bank Zenith Bank were frozen based on some administrative lapses.
It claimed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) used the banks to close the accounts without due process of law. The House of Representatives in September gave a similar directive to the banks to free the former first lady’s blocked accounts.
But SERAP said, “Nigerians are concerned about their lawmakers’ thirst for power, and about the National Assembly aggrandizing its legislative powers without sufficient checks and constitutional scrutiny and validity.”
The organisation said the Senate and House of Representatives should advise Mrs Jonathan to seek appropriate judicial remedies if she felt the criminal justice mechanisms had violated her human rights.