Two key challenges face this government 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. 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. 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, impunity still rests with the individual citizen and to a great extent government, 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 MuhammaduBuhari’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, DSS and the army are components of impunity. For example the continuous detention of former national security adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, retired Colonel SamboDasuki despite several bails granted by competent courts of the land is blatant impunity.
It is not only Col Sambo’s case, the National President of the Nigerian Youths Council, UgochinyereIkenna, a lawyer and an aide to the Senate President was once held indiscriminately without charges just because he is an ardent supporter ofBukolaSaraki. There are many more contemptible incarcerations and acts of impunity openly exhibited by this government, like the new conflict in the rich Niger delta region which has resulted to why the economic recession is prolonged 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 sake. Whereas the region and its deprived indigenes were being pounded by heavy airstrikes and artillery of the Nigerian Army, Airforce, and Navy, the president in a cover up told his American counterpart that government was dialoguing with militants and if not impunity and sheer rashness, today the economy is in dire straits and on its knees. Albeit what actually would have been out of place should this government had 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. Is it one thing to pretend as one responsible government by wearing the garb of a true democratic leader and nation when the President leads his retinue to global and international meetings and another thing to become a despot while at home? If not a misnomer why will this government continue to keep hostage, IPOB leader NnamdiKanu and former NSA after several bails awarded the duo. What kind of law is practiced 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 bail 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 SamboDasuki, former National Security Adviser. This is a welcomed development which the Buhari’s government must obey and key into if it wants the international community to respect Nigeria and see her as practicing 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. 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. “Having perused the case before us, we have come to the conclusion that the re-arrest and detention of the applicant after he had been granted bail by three courts since December last year make mockery of the rule of law. Executive arm should not interfere with the judiciary” the trial judge warned, adding ‘’ that even if the applicant has committed crimes of whatever nature, the principle of innocence must be respected and the fact that he has been charged to court does not disentitle him to freedom of liberty: Courts he noted, ‘’must rise to their responsibilities and prevent executive lawlessness” Ruling further, the trial judge, argued that the detention of Dasuki since December, 2015, without warrant of arrest were unlawful, arbitrary, and done in contravention of both local and international laws, especially, Article 5 & 6 of the African Charter on Peoples and Person’s Right to Freedom of Liberty”
Indeed the courts must rise to its billing, especially as the hope of the common man. We are in support of the verdict of the ECOWAS court and demand immediate release of Dasuki and others clamped in cells. 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 who it is, they must speak out and condemn any executive rascality and impunity against the people and the laws of the land, so that executive excesses can be regulated and this way our society can be just. 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, the consequences which are catastrophic. So it is now to stop that lingering impunity.