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The highest authority in Nigeria: The law, not President Buhari

The highest authority in Nigeria: The law, not President Buhari
May 18
17:21 2018
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Four (4) months after President Buhari was sworn into the most coveted office in Nigeria, he said and I quote verbatim: “let me reiterate this administration is committed to due process, merit and total observance of the rule of law as central pillars of a prosperous and democratic society.” Also at the Commonwealth about two (2) years ago, PMB said he’s committed to applying the rule of law and to respect human rights.” Additionally, PMB’s vice president said and I quote: “I strongly believe that we must obey the law. It is our duty as government to respect the orders of the court.”

Furthermore, not long, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen said the failure of government or any party to adhere to court judgments as outright impunity. To my mortification, what Onnoghen called outright impunity, Alhaji Lai Muhammed called balancing of security with human rights. The truth is; when the administration of Buhari comes to an end, no one will remember Alhaji Lai Mohammed and his political and hilarious stances; the name that will be on the lips of everyone is PMB. Flouting of court orders is an invitation to anarchy. No one is superior to our institutions.

How can court orders be flouted because of national security? The executive branch of government said that the judicial arm of government does not understand what is going on in the country within the context of security of lives and property. And since Col. Sambo Dasuki has been in detention, are Nigerians not dying on a daily basis? It is against Dasuki’s human rights to be kept without being charged to court. Am I writing for him? God forbid. But it is startling that the man he took orders from—when he was in government is still moving freely while the one who took orders from his boss is being incarcerated. It is an unusual conundrum that shall be unraveled in the days to come.

Seven (7) months ago, the Federal High Court in the Federal Capital Territory ordered former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to appear before it—to testify as a witness in defense of a former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, chief Olisa Methuh, but till now, he is yet to obey the ruling of that Court of competent jurisdiction. When political leaders flout court orders as they like, they are modeling to the led that the bench is not meant to be taken very seriously. What a country!

It was so cheerless, listening to Alhaji Lai Mohammed saying that there are security issues that the executive arm of government knows that the judicial arm of government knows nothing about. This is proof that there is no interaction between the two branches of government. Alhaji Lai said that that’s the reason why the executive arm of government chose to disobey the court ruling, keeping Sambo Dasuki without charging him to court. As structured, the three branches of government have methods of making sure one branch of government does not get too much power. And the Judicial branch checks the executive branch by declaring presidential acts unconstitutional, sometimes!

Three months ago, Prof Yemi Osinbajo urged the three arms of government to sink their differences and partner to deliver development to the people. In any nation where all the three arms of government aren’t working together, the citizenry cannot but suffer for it—as we have been experiencing it since the baby of the administration of Buhari was put to bed. The only thing we see are mere photographs, especially when Bukola Saraki, Yakubu Dogara and Buhari meet, we have not seen much synergy between all of them.

Once again, disobedience to court orders is a civilian coup-d’état to destabilizing democracy. Buhari and his team did not fight for democracy, so they cannot really be blamed for not knowing how to preserve what they are enjoying today. I have said it before and I want to say it again—that our country was designed to be governed by law, not men. You know why? It is because men are fallible, including president Buhari.

In Nigeria, there are three sources of law: One, the judicial arm of government. Two, the legislative branch and three—the executive arm of government. I have ranked them in order of authority. Orders from the judicial arm of government are only valid, if they comply with the constitution and orders from the executive arm of government are only valid if they comply with the stance of both the other two arms of government—in line with the context of our constitution.

How is it done in saner climes? Not long, a certain court in a in the sticks part of the United States of America issued a mandatory judgment invalidating the presidential order put into place by the president of the United States of America, POTUS—which sought to exclude visits from seven (7) largely Moslem nations from visiting the United States of America. And because Trump submits to the law governing America, he had to quickly obey the court’s verdict. And there was no politician as Alhaji Lai Mohammed—who said that the judicial arm of government did not know what the executive arm of government knows. It shows that democracy is working in America. For now, democracy is not working in Nigeria as it should.

In the United States of America, you flout clear court orders; you would be sanctioned by their own Congress, but in Nigeria, the executive arm of government flouts court orders at will because our own parliamentarians are mere politicians—who are incapable of using the legitimate constitutional powers of impeachment as enshrined in section 143 of our constitution. What Buhari is doing in Nigeria, he cannot do it in nations where their institutions are working.

Please, do not misconstrue me, I am not writing on whether El-zazaki and Sambo are guilty or not, I am only writing on the inviolability of their rights—as citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As a matter of fact, they are not guilty until our courts say so. And nobody is allowed to kick against what courts of competent jurisdiction order. Both local and international courts did order that Sambo Dasuki should be granted bail. As an effect of this, contrary political and personal opinions do not count a hoot. For the umpteenth time, the highest authority in Nigeria is the law, not the president of Nigeria.

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