Policy Alert, a civil society organisation working on economic and ecological justice in the Niger Delta has described the attack on the Chairman, Human Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), Mr Olanrewaju Suraju as a new low in fight back by corruption against anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria.
On Monday, March 28, 2022, five men armed with guns and knives invaded the home of Mr. Suraju in Lagos and carted away a car, phones, laptops, jewelry, bank tokens, documents, and other valuables, after disabling security equipment in his house, gaining access to his gadgets, threatening to kill him and physically assaulting him and his wife, both of whom had to be hospitalised.
Policy Alert in a statement signed by its Executive Director Tijah Bolton-Akpan on Thursday said the high criminal ingenuity deployed by Suraju’s attackers give reason to believe that the invasion was no ordinary robbery but a carefully planned attempt to eliminate the anti-corruption crusader by highly-placed Nigerians who see HEDA’s work as a threat to their corrupt activities.
“It is a sad commentary on Nigeria’s justice system that people who should be behind bars for sabotaging the country and its citizens through their corrupt activities have been left to walk free, a situation that has heightened their impunity to the point of adopting crude and murderous attacks against anti-corruption campaigners.
“Suraju and his organisation HEDA Resource Centre have been dogged in their exposure of high-profile corruption cases in the country. This direct attack on Suraju’s life and that of his family members is unfortunately a new low in a series of underhanded tactics against the activist, the most recent being the use of agents of the Nigeria Police by corrupt but powerful Nigerians who are under investigation to harass, detain and intimidate Suraju.”
The statement further said: “We cannot absolve the government of President Muhammadu Buhari from blame for this latest attack. It is this government’s lame-duck attitude to glaring corruption cases and worsening insecurity that has further emboldened these sinister elements into their recent attempts to silence anti-corruption organisations and campaigners.
The statement charged security agents to investigate the armed invasion and to ensure that the perpetrators and their sponsors are found and brought to book.
The statement added: “This attack is symptomatic of the growing clampdown on civic space in the country and the new reality that anti-corruption crusaders are fast becoming an endangered species under an administration that loudly touts its intolerance for corruption. We are with Suraju and his family at this trying moment. Well-meaning Nigerian citizens and the international human rights community are interested in this matter and we are by this statement putting the Nigerian state on notice that we will be keenly tracking its response in the days ahead.”