Two key challenges face the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and perhaps an albatross to previous governments. They are hindrances to developments. These challenges as it were are fighting corruption within the ambits of the law and impunity. The two are more or less Siamese twins. One leads to the other.
Corruption can kill while impunity is an adversary to civility, orderliness and a threat to democracy. Impunity is recklessness and a brazen disobedience to authority, law and order which in turn can lead to anarchy, conflict and wanton killings and destruction. Regrettably Impunity is still here with us and glaringly demonstrated by this administration and its officials.
Not to sound immodest, the foundation of today’s obvious corruptible practices in the country is found in impunity. Therefore, as a character trait or a way of life which still rests with the executive, Legislature, Judiciary and individual citizens. It is more displayed by agencies of government, the security community, political leaders and associates of government in power, who act above the law. Unhappily many instances of brazen show of impunity and highhandedness have been displayed and more or less a signature- tune of the President Buhari’s administration.
From blanket accounts freeze before seeking court orders, to illegal raids , arrest , harassment of perceived political enemies and opposition using instruments of state, like the Police Force, Directorate of State Security and the army are components of impunity.
For example, the continuous detention of former National Security Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki despite several bails granted by competent courts of the land is blatant impunity. Also, National President of the Nigerian Youths Council, Ugochinyere Ikenna, a lawyer and an aide to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki was once held indiscriminately without charges just because he is an ardent supporter of Saraki. There are many more contemptible incarcerations and acts of impunity openly exhibited by government, like the new conflict in the rich Niger delta region which has largely contributed to why the economic recession is prolonged. The later, we hold, is an open fact to this misnomer.
Undisputedly, the renewed Niger delta hostility would not have degenerated if government had agreed first and foremost to engage in mutual dialogue with militants so as to spare oil facilities and maintain budgetary production quota for the economy’s sake. Whereas the region and its deprived indigenes were being pounded by heavy airstrikes and artillery of the Nigerian Army, Air Force, and Navy, the president told his American counterpart, President Barak Obama that government was dialoguing with militants. Today, the economy is in dire straits and on its knees.
If we may ask, what actually would have been out of place had this government told President Obama the truth that it had resorted to military action in the oil-rich region?
Coming against this disapproving development, what becomes of our democracy that is hinged on the rule of law and how is the world watching Nigeria and the President Buhari-led APC government if government actions are not done within the ambits of the law? If not a misnomer why will this government continue to keep hostage, IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu among others after several bails awarded by the courts? Just what kind of law is practised in Nigeria? Is it different from well-known jurisprudence; common law of natural justice? Is Nigeria not a democracy built upon the rule of law? If the answers are in the affirmative, then, time is it for President Buhari to direct the immediate release of several Nigerians who in spite of bails awarded them are quietly locked up in various government detention facilities.
Expectedly this is the way to go even as an international court of law, the sub-regional ECOWAS court has given fillip to why government’s impunity is an aberration. Interestingly the sub-regional, ECOWAS court made a declaratory order recently for the immediate release of retired Colonel Dasuki. This is a welcome development which the Buhari’s government must obey and key into if it wants the international community to respect Nigeria and see her as practising true democracy hinged on the rule of law.
Delivering judgment of late, the regional court held that the detention of Dasuki since December 2015 by the federal government violated both national and international laws on the rights of persons and citizens to freedom of liberty. In the verdict, Justice Friday Chijioke, of the ECOWAS court, who also awarded N15million fine against the country as compensatory damages to the former NSA, for deprivation of his freedom to liberty and dispossession of his properties, dismissed the allegations of unlawful possession of firearms and economic crimes used by the federal government to justify the detention of Dasuki. Instructively, Justice Chijioke added that even if Dasuki committed a crime, the law must be observed in his trial, especially as it was an established fact that the applicant was put on trial in three different Nigerian courts and granted bail by the courts.
According to the trial judge, the Nigerian government took laws into its hands and made mockery of the rule of law by arresting him without warrant of arrest or warrant of detention when he had legally been granted bail by appropriate courts.
The courts in this era must ensure justice at all times and not bend to executive blackmail, intimidation, impunity and recklessness: they must stand for equity, honesty at all times, no matter whose ox is gored. Thus, for the umpteenth time, we charge this government to turn a new leaf and purge herself of perceived impunity because not only will impunity deprive Nigeria of international investors at this critical time of economic recession, we may be isolated and termed a despot nation with its attendant adverse consequences.


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