Leading anti corruption icon, Lanre Suraju escapes assassination

Leading anti corruption icon, Lanre Suraju escapes assassination

By Dupe Abioro

Nigeria’s most celebrated anti-corruption crusader, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju escaped what appears like a case of assassination  Tuesday.

Suraju is Nigeria’s most outstanding anti corruption crusader. He has been celebrated home and abroad abroad his courage and determination. The attack took place in the early morning hours.

Suraj has been fighting rich Nigerian crooks linked to sleaze in the OPL 245 scam where over 1billion dollars of public funds were stolen.

Suraju heads the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) which has been leading the campaign against corruption.

Apart from OPL 245 HEDA has raised the red flag against a string of high profile corruption cases some of which he pursues up to the international arena.

In recent times, he has faced many threats from politicians and top government officials worried that he and his organisation continue to expose their heinous crimes.

In Tuesday, heavily armed assailants attacked the activist who managed to escape. His attackers said he would be “killed.”

The attack has raised deep concerns in the human rights community home and abroad.

The armed men numbered about five. They took away five office phones including  Samsung phone, 2 iPhones, 2 iPads; 2 Macbook pro laptops, a Dell laptop.

They also took away  a Toyota Corrola 2014 car, family apparels, ATM cards, cars keys, Bank Tokens, office documents among other valuables belonging to Mr Suraju and his Family.

The assailants who were heavily armed with guns, knives and other dangerous weapons also threatened to kill Mr Suraju.

The attackers warned him to stop his anti corruption campaigns warning that they would kill him if he continues.

They physically injured him and his wife. Both are currently hospitalised.

According to a statement issued in Lagos by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) and signed by its Executive Secretary, Mr Sulaimon Arigbabu, made available to Irohinoodua, the assailants invaded Mr Suraju’s home in Lagos at around 2:15am on Monday.

Arigbabu said “They  breached the Estate’s Security and burgled the security features in his house with sophisticated tools. Currently, both the intent and the extent of the damage cannot be fully estimated yet, HEDA noted.”

Mr Arigbabu said: “The assailants, who invaded only Mr. Suraju’s home out of other 220 buildings in the estate, collected all valuable items in the house and coerced Mr Suraju to provide all his security details including phone passwords, bank log-in details, laptops passwords, among others. The assailants then immediately gained access to his email, phone numbers including WhatsApp and other messaging platforms as well as bank platforms.

He said to be sure, at the earlier moment after the invasion, the assailants were found deleting some of the CCTV footage through Mr Suraju’s phone before the camera was switched off by the family.

He said the matter has been reported at the relevant Divisional Police Station in Lagos State.”

He added, it is important to alert members of the public and all friends, families and well wishers of the Surajus and HEDA not to act on any solicitation or strange broadcast/emails purportedly from Mr and Mrs Suraju.

“Any such message should be discountenanced for now.”

HEDA said the development is both shocking and traumatizing for the Suraju’s family  the organisation. HEDA expressed worry that the invasion may not be unconnected with the anti-corruption work of HEDA which Mr Suraju has been at the fore-front.

HEDA noted that: “It is no news that corrupt elements both within and outside the government have continuously conspired to persecute the organisation and its Chairman, Mr Suraju, for blowing whistles and exposing perpetrators of various acts of grand corruption against Nigeria.

“Therefore, considering that the assailants did not only steal and inflict injury, they also threatened to kill Mr Suraju, this attack may be another dimension to the persecution of Mr Suraju by the corrupt individuals especially since all previous attempts to bring him down have failed.”

The organisation said it remains undeterred in its campaign against corruption and promotion of good governance, sustainable development and protection of human rights even as it goes through this trying period with Mr Suraju and his family.

HEDA therefore urges well-meaning State and non-State actors to rise up towards ensuring adequate protection for whistle-blowers and activists  who have committed themselves to fighting corruption and impunity that are the bane of Nigeria’s development.

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