It is most troubling and highly embarrassing that the Federal Government under Maj. Gen. Buhari now considers the executive arm of the government an appelate court to the judgements of competent courts of law. It is unfortunate that despite court orders that the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki be granted bail, the Federal Government which controls the powers of coersion and under the obligation to execute court judgements without delay has refused to release him. It need not be gainsaid that the continuous incarceration of Col. Sambo Dasuki by the Federal Government poses serious threat to our democracy and it also shows the lack of integrity in the part of the government of the day. The government has continuously proven that it would only submits itself to the judgments of the law courts that suits the whims and caprices of the President while acting against rulings that does not go in accordance to the wish of the President.
The continuous gross violations of court orders on the part of the executive arm of the government and the use of the instruments of the State to silence opposition raises serious questions of governance as we are gradually descending into dictatorship. It is just so calamitous that our entire life has been swallowed up as a people in this frenzy and support for the Maj. Gen. Buhari administration, as to even justify the clampdown on the rights of the people by the government in a supposed democratic government birthed under the rule of law, human rights and freedoms. It is annoying and a collective insult on administration of justice and the rule of law for a Chief Law Officer of the Federation, a Senior Advocate of the Federation who is expected to be the defender and upholder of the Constitution and rights of the people to justify the continuous and unjust incarceration of Col. Sambo Dasuki by stating that “reports have shown that there was massive mismanagement of funds meant for military hardware which the military could not access and that led to the death of many, embezzlement of the funds and because of that many people have lost their lives. Obeying the court is not the issue per say. Are we going to take the issue of an individual more important than that of the people? The government's main responsibility is for and about the people. The essence of governance is to better the lives of its people. So, you have to weigh it based on that; the rights of an individual or the rights of the people.”
The above statement credited to the Attorney General of the Federation does not only raises constitutional and democratic questions but portrays our democracy in bad light and signal a greater danger to our existence as a people. It is troubling that the rights of Nigerians is being seriously threatened under Maj. Gen. Buhari as the 'innocence of the accused' is no more guaranteed making an accused to be automatically guilty of offence(s) levied against them. Ironically, the major selling point of the Re-elect Buhari Movement is in terms of the rule of law but it's so embarrassing that Maj. Gen. Buhari flagrantly disobeys court orders and continuously act against the rule of law which he swore to uphold in good faith.
It is noteworthy that Maj. Gen. Buhari was not under duress when he swore to an oath to discharge his duties in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which serves as the groundnum on which the Nigerian society is built. However, the continued disobedience to court orders to free an individual and the continued incarceration of El-Zakzaky and Abiri Jones both of which have been serially denied access to their family members, their lawyers without being charged to a law court cannot be justified in so far we are still operating Constitutional democracy which makes the Constitution superior.
It is so ridiculous that the elected representatives of the Nigerian people in the National Assembly are mute on the flagrant disobedience of court orders and the rule of law by the executive and the judiciary also appear weak and helpless in this ugly and sad scenario which appears to be a serious misconduct and breach of the Constitution. The deafening silence of the Nigerian Bar Association on serious constitutional matters we are faced with is treacherous as they are expected to fight for the supremacy of the rule of law, obedience of court orders and respect for separation of powers. Maj. Gen. Buhari need be told that corruption cannot be fought outside the cubicles of the rule of law and that illegality cannot be used to fight illegality when there is an existing process to be followed and strictly adhered to by those concerned. Maj. Gen. Buhari must be made to understand that we are in a civilised and democratic society where no one reserves the right to set aside the basic institutional frameworks of government at his whims and caprices.
It is my utmost belief that the civil societies, the human rights communities, the students' movement and the National Assembly shall rise in defense of democracy that was fought for by some persons. We must always remember that it is a duty we owe this generation and generations unborn to bequeath to them better days so that they won't see the present abnormalities as the norm. Democracy cannot be nurtured on tyranny and dictatorship.
Kazeem Olalekan Israel (GANI) is a Political Science Student of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He writes from Ile-Ife.
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)