As a practical way of defending the integrity of the judicial institution and to safeguard the sanctity of the Nigerian constitution which spells out the binding doctrine of separation of powers, the chief justice of Nigeria Walter Nkanu Onoghen (GCON) has been charged to defend the constitution against presidential impunity.
Making the plea is the prominent pro-democracy and non-governmental body – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) which specifically asked the Chief Justice of Nigeria to call out all the court systems in Nigeria to a week-long warning strike to protest against serial disobedience of president Muhammadu Buhari to a litany of binding Federal High Court bail orders with specific reference to the prolonged detention of erstwhile National Security Adviser Colonel Sambo Dasuki and the leader of the Islamic movement of Nigeria Sheikh Ibrahim El Zackzacky.
In the considered opinion of the Rights group, the brazen disobedience of several bail orders in these two specific matters and the fact that several Nigerians are detained indefinitely without trial amounts not just to executive lawlessness but are direct affronts to the judicial powers of the federation which in section 6 are domiciled with the nation’s court system. The Rights said it makes no sense that the Courts are working as if all is well when the international community are already aware that there are several breaches of judgments of the nation’s court system which graphically depicts Nigeria as a banana republic. HURIWA said it is imperative that an industrial strike is organized by the hierarchy of the Court system to show the World that there are officers of the law who still care to defend the integrity of the constitution irrespective of physical threats from the misbehaving Presidency that takes delight in abusing the executive powers over security forces. HURIWA reminded the hierarchies of the Court systems that if there were no patriotic pre-independence leaders like Sir Ahmadu Bello, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sir Obafemi Awolowo who fought the colonial masters with all their talents and personal powers of influence, Nigeria could still have remained a conquered territory of the neocolonialists.
Besides, HURIWA in the media statement endorsed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, argued that declaration of a warning industrial action by the heads of the nation’s judicial systems is the legitimate way of forcing a persistently disobedient and lawless dictator from changing from persistent impunity and lawlessness and abide by constitutional precepts.
“With regards to the flouting of many binding court bail orders, we are of the considered position that it will be ill -advised for the court systems to feign ignorance of the gravity of the threat to its integrity and the constitutional foundation of judicial independence that such misbehaviours pose to constitutional democracy. We think that since the executive arm of government has muzzled the legislative arm into panic withdrawal from her constitutionally guaranteed power of impeachment, the judicial system should adopt a law based approach to forcing the executive to respect the constitution since it lacks the powers to deploy the police to compel compliance with binding judgments of competent courts of law recognized under section 6 of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended).”
HURIWA has also asked the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to wake up from slumber and withdraw the practicing licence from the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mr. Abubakar Malami for his naked support of legal rascality and open affront to the principle of rule of law. On the alternative, HURIWA has charged progressive lawyers to team up and form a more credible national platform of democratic lawyers to serve as the defenders of the Nigerian Constitution in this kind of despotic instance whereby the President has failed and openly declared his disrespect for the Court system which is a clear impeachable offence in civilized climes.
“We regret to say that this is the worst kind of leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association in history that the Minister of Justice will openly disobey the constitution and vow to disrespect the constitutional principle of separation of powers and the Nigerian Bar Association is behaving like a deaf, dumb and blind contraption.”
“We affirm that the public statement by Mr. Malami that the government will not respect the constitutional powers of the court system in granting bail without conditions to erstwhile National Security Adviser Colonel Sambo Dasuki amounts to the institutionalization of roguery in government because what it implies is that the executive arm of government has stolen the constitutional powers donated to the courts in Nigeria in line with section 6. The Attorney General has effectively abused section 150 (1) of the constitution of 1999 (as amended) which specifies that the Attorney General shall be the chief law officer of the federation. Abubakar Malami has divested himself of that function and has put on a new clothe as the Chief law breaker of Nigeria. ”
HURIWA recalled that the attorney-general of the federation, Abubakar Malami, said the federal government cannot release Dasuki, because the allegation against him is a matter of public interest which has cost several lost of lives.
HURIWA further recalled that the Federal High Court, Abuja, had on July 2, 2018, granted bail to the former National Security Adviser but the Nigerian government is yet to obey the court order.
But HURIWA lamented that the current holder of office of AGF shamelessly admitted that the executive arm of government has become a law unto itself when he asserted wrongfully that “If the dispute is about an issue that affects an entire country, then you have to remember that government is about the people and not for only an individual,” Malami told Voice of America’s Hausa Service.
HURIWA condemned as atrocious and an attempt at coup plot for the justice minister to have uttered such illegal words thus: “You have to look at it from this perspective. If the issue about an individual coincides with that, which affects the people of a country and you are now saying the government did not obey a court order that infringes on a single person’s rights.”
HURIWA said it is incumbent that the heads of the Court system should adopt lawful steps such as declaration of a warning strike to compel the President to obey the Courts and if he maintains the position then the Courts should declare an indefinite strike action which must be backed up by all lovers of constitutional democracy and the international community to restore normalcy in Nigeria.