Like Betta Edu, Defence Minister Matawalle should also be suspended, activist insists

A press conference convened on Thursday, January 18, 2024, by the National Movement for Defence of Democracy and Good Governance (NMDDGG) in Calabar, Cross River State capital, ended on a sour note as police swooped on its President, Goddie Akpama, and whisked him away.

He was picked by police officers and taken to the State Command where he met the Commissioner of Police and made to sign an undertaking not to hold the event or procession on behalf of Betta Edu.

Akpama was released after about five hours and told never to hold the press conference scheduled for the Chinese Restaurant Event Hall in State Housing Estate, Calabar.

The action threw panic among journalists and activists as they discuss it in hushed tones.

The text of the briefing signed by Akpama and distributed among journalists before his arrest demanded that President Bola Tinubu should forthwith suspend and investigate a former Governor of Zamfara State and Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, just like he did the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu.

Last week, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said it would revisit the N70 billion case involving Matawalle.

He said, "While we commend the expeditious actions taken against Dr. Betta Edu, our esteemed mentor, in response to allegations totaling N583 million, we are confounded by the continued tenure of the Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, facing staggering money laundering allegations exceeding N70 billion, without undergoing the requisite investigations.

"This glaring inconsistency raises fundamental questions about the principles of impartiality and justice that should be the bedrock of our nation. We urgently call upon President Bola Tinubu to forthwith suspend Bello Matawalle as Minister, and we unequivocally demand the EFCC to reinitiate the investigation into the grave allegations against him.

"The disconcerting reality is that our daughter faces repercussions for a comparatively trivial sum, while Bello Matawalle enjoys unhindered freedom despite facing monumental accusations. This exposes a disturbing pattern of gender bias and selective application of justice against women actively engaged in politics.

"In response, we declare our intention to march from this location to formally submit a petition, emphasizing our insistence on equal treatment before the law. We grant the EFCC a stringent two-week ultimatum to recommence investigations into Bello Matawalle's alleged money laundering activities. Failure to comply will prompt us to rally our counterparts in the South South states, orchestrating a peaceful yet substantial protest at all EFCC offices within the region.

"We ardently believe that the standards of justice and fairness applied to the southern part of Nigeria must be equally applicable to the North. The time has come for our nation to transcend the shackles of sentiment-driven politics, ushering in an era where justice is impartial, and equality prevails. Enough is enough," the press statement concluded.
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