The anti-corruption and social campaign
of President Muhammadu Buhari-led
government is marked with spate of arrests,
trial and detention of suspects. Key figures of
the last administration of the former President
Goodluck Jonathan and members of the
opposition are major targets.
They include the former National Security
Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), Nnamdi
Kanu, IPOD leader, released last year after
a protracted legal and political negotiation;
Alhaji Mohammed Haliru, former national
chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party
arrested in the wee hours of this administration
alongside his son; Olisah Metuh, the former
publicity secretary of the PDP; the arrest of the
leader of Shiites Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim
El-Zakzaky whose members of his group were
killed for allegedly attempting to “assassinate”
the Chief of Army Staff, T. Y. Buratai.
Many Nigerians, including professional
and human right groups, as well as the
international community have been expressing
misgiving over the the rampant cases of arrests,
trials, denial of enforcement of fundamental
human rights without judicial process, killing
of unarmed groups, and many other cases.
This development has been generating frenetic
political reactions with all the tendencies of
heating up the polity.
Reactions trailing the anti-corruption
campaign of the present administration is not
so much against the effort to rid the country of
corruption; critics of the campaign hinge their
reservations on what they described as abuse
of human rights, brazen refusal by the federal
government to honour court orders which
grant bail to the accused persons standing
trials. The Buhari government is being accused
of tyranny, emasculation of human freedom
and judicial administration of justice.
For instance, during the first and the
last Presidential Media Chat under this
administration, President Buhari, responding
to a question pertaining to the refusal of the
federal government to release Kanu and Dasuki
despite court orders to that effect, said that, “If
you see the kind of atrocities people like Dasuki
committed you won’t give them bail. A former
President told Dasuki to collect N40 billion.
N40 billion. And you want to give him bail to
go and see his doctor in London? Do you know
that Nnamdi Kanu has two passports and he
came into the country without using any? Do you
know that Nnamdi Kanu brought a sophisticated
equipment into the country for Radio Biafra
broadcasts? What kind of government do you
people want?” the President fumed.
Dasuki has been granted bail and favourable
judgements by different courts but each time,
he was re-arrested again by the Department of
State Security Services (DSS). Similarly, Kanu was
granted bail by the court but was also not released.
The PDP has labelled President Buhari as a
tyrant and its opinion has not changed. In a press
release signed by Olisah Metuh when he was
the party’s Publicity secretary, it stated that “the
world is no longer in doubt as to who is behind the
prevailing recklessness, abuse of rights of citizens
and outright flouting of judicial pronouncements
by security agencies.
“A situation where the President openly
pronounced persons facing trial guilty and
sanctioned their continued incarceration despite
being granted bail by the courts, presents a
dangerous fascist practice obtainable only in
totalitarian societies like Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s
Germany, Idi Amin’s Uganda and General Than
Shwe’s Burma.
“This extremely shocking dictatorial tendency
being brazenly exhibited by the President in
total disdain for our laws and judicial institutions
portends great danger for our democracy and
constitutionally-guaranteed rights of the people,
and should be resisted by the citizens before it
festers
“Following from the foregoing, therefore, it may
be necessary to suspend the application of our
Constitution and allow the President to operate
as maximum ruler for four years after which the
nation can return to a democracy”, it stated.
However, the ruling party, the All Progressive
Congress, APC, has rejected the tirade of the
opposition. According Mr. John Odigie-Oyegun,
the national chairman of the party, the opposition
is disrespecting the person and office of President
Buhari.
Oyegun said “the APC is worried by PDP’s
inciting statements. Respect for the office of the
President or heads of government in any clime
is not a matter of choice but a civic obligation
sanctioned by laws.
“Being an opposition party or critic is no license
to issue abusive, intemperate and slanderous
statements on government officials; most
especially the President of the country.
“For the umpteenth time, the APC urges
Nigerians who see merit in the war that the
President Buhari-led administration is waging
against corruption, not to be distracted by the
PDP and their agents of corruption to discredit
the war. For the records, the ongoing war against
corruption is not selective. Anybody guilty of
corrupt practices will face the law.
“The PDP does not have the luxury of dictating
how the present administration carries out its
legitimate duty of catching looters, as long as it
conforms with the rule of law.
“If the PDP has any proof of corruption against
any APC member or minister as alleged, we
advise that they approach any of the anti-graft
agencies constitutionally mandated to handle
such cases.
“PDP’s rant suggesting a selective anticorruption
fight by the present administration
should be seen as a plot meant to distract the
citizenry from the successful ongoing war against
graft”, he said.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on
Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, also
came to the Defence of his principal saying that
“It is harsh of anyone to deny the President an
opinion on these matters when all of us are freely
commenting upon them. Muhammadu Buhari is
first a citizen before becoming a President. He is
entitled to hold views as you and I are under the
constitution.
“What will be wrong is when he tries to impose
those views on the courts or on anyone, and this
not anything he has done, and will not do as the
elected president of Nigeria.
President Buhari Sambo Dasuki Abubakar Malami
While Nigerians believe in fighting corruption and support the present administration, many of them have their
fears too concerning issues relating to human rights and rule of law. SAMUEL ODAUDU examines the situation
“Many understand his comments regarding
the bail for Col Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu to
mean that government would use all avenues
in the legal system to ensure that they are made
to face trials”, he said?
Recently, the President of Evangelical
Church Winning All (ECWA), Rev. Jeremiah
Gado, advised President Buhari on the need
to enforce human rights and rule of law in
Nigeria. He said
“What will unite us and keep Nigeria one,
is the enforcement of the rule of law, fairness
and justice to all, to reassure all Nigerians of a
better future.
“With the rule of law fully operational,
Nigeria will unite in the match toward total
freedom from abject poverty and freedom
from oppression of all kinds,” he said.
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has also
waded into the fray. According to Augustine
Alegeh (SAN), the president of the NBA, the
respect for the rule of law was a must for the
government of President Buhari.
In a recent interview with newsmen, the
NBA president said “Government has a need
to respect the rule of law. As a matter of fact,
there is need for government to be in the
front burner in the respect for the rule of law.
Whoever is unhappy, including government
with a pronouncement of the court, has the
opportunity of still going back to that court, for
the court’s decision to be vacated or appeal to a
higher court, but not to undertake to ignore it or
carrying on as though nothing has happened
or that the court’s order is not binding. That is
an unacceptable principle in the rule of law.
“For specific cases in court, it’s not the
business of the Nigerian Bar Association to
make comments on them, because we have
our members on both side and they can decide
to speak on the matter, but on the general
principle of rule of law, as an association, it is
one area we are passionate about, which we
feel is very essential.
“So, both government and citizens must
subscribe to the principles of rule of law and
doing otherwise is not an option. You cannot
pick and choose which court order to obey, if
you try to do that, you are clearly undermining
the principle of rule of law and the obvious
consequence will not help the society in
anyway.
“We believe that from our interaction with
the government of President Muhammadu
Buhari, they do not have an option but to obey
court orders. You must bear in mind that the
courts are there to settle disputes between
individuals as well as between government
and individuals, so it is important that all
parties respect the rule of law and judgments
and decision of courts as that is one area we
will not compromise.”
Recently, the Elomba brothers, online
publishers based in the UK were arrested and
detained arbitrarily. No justifiable reason was
given for the arrest. They were later released
after severe local and international pressure.
From all indications, Nigerians will witness
more cases of arrests and trials in days ahead.
While they see the development as a good one,
they equally fear that the lopsided nature of the
anti-corruption war and abuse of rule of law
may continue.

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