Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) has spoken up on the national honour conferred on the late Chief Moshood Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari on Wednesday announced that Democracy Day would be celebrated on June 12, rather than May 29, to further honour Abiola’s memory even as he awarded Abiola the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
Also Gani Fawehinmi, a rights advocate who died in 2009 was also posthumously conferred with the Grand Commander of Nigeria (GCON).
But former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Alfa Belgore, kicked against the president’s move, noting that the award of Nigeria’s highest national honour on the late Moshood Abiola was illegal.
Belgore, who was Nigeria’s chief justice, CJN, from 2006 to 2007, said the national honours cannot be awarded posthumously, much less the GCFR, which is the highest honour in the land.
“It is not done. It is for people living. The only thing they could do is to name a place after him, but national honours award, no,” the ex-CJN was reported as saying.
However, Sagay countered former CJN’s statement, urging Nigerians to “look at the big picture” even as he commended Buhari.
Sagay said Buhari’s move has restored justice to the system of Nigeria
He said: “Was there injustice done on June 12? Yes, to both Nigerians and to Abiola, a very great injustice which almost destroyed this country. Is it therefore good that this injustice should be removed and justice done? The answer is yes. Has what Buhari done, not restored justice to the situation and poured balm into the hearts of those who were hurt? The answer is yes.
“So, why should we be looking for legal arguments to overturn justice that has been done? These are some of the things that I cannot understand about Nigerians.”
The PACAC chairman, however, urged critics to stop having evil arguments and questioning the motive behind Buhari’s move to elevate the country.
“Some people are even saying the awards were conferred with a political motive. Again, I ask, what is achieved by the conferment of the awards, is it a positive or negative thing? Is the act something to be happy about? Is it something that resolves a major problem and brings relief to the country? The answer is yes.
“So, what does it matter, even if there’s a political motive?
“The right thing to do, it’s a big solution to a long-standing problem that has been festering. It brings relief and joy to the country. I think Buhari needs to be congratulated heartily and I so congratulate him,” Sagay added.