There is a continuum between lawful exercise of discretion and unlawful suspension of the law. Time and again, President Muhammadu Buhari has lurched towards the wrong end of it.
It is common knowledge that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is notorious for disobeying court orders. Omoyele Sowore, a former presidential candidate and publisher of Sahara Reporters, an online news platform, was on August 3, 2019 arrested by the DSS in Lagos and transferred to Abuja.
The DSS obtained an ex parte order to keep Sowore for 45 days. Barely 24 hours to the expiration of the 45 days detention order, the Attorney-General of the Federation’s office filed charges of treasonable felony, cybercrime offences and money laundering against him before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
However, the worst of government actions based on Buhari’s kind of flouting of court orders was the utterly disgusting and brutish invasion of the High Court, an institution that symbolizes democracy in nations worldwide, by men of the State Security Service, SSS, on Friday, December 6, 2019. Mr Sowore had been released the previous night, after 124 days in detention, based on the order of Mrs Ojukwu, a judge at the Abuja Federal High Court.
That mindless invasion, perhaps reminds Nigerians that Buhari means business when he acts in ways subjecting a universal principle like the rule of law to his selfish, parochial and jaundiced definition of national interest and security. That invasion proves to the entire world that Nigeria currently parades tyrants as leaders in Nigeria. It was an invasion that rubbished the well-established universal principles of separation of power and checks and balances in every civilized democratic dispensation.
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.
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. These acts constitute improper conduct and demonstrate impunity, undermine the Constitution and democratic governance, and sets a bad precedent
It also appears that close allies of the president are unwilling to confront the presidency to do the needful and stop undermining the integrity and independence of the Nigerian judiciary.
According to the Legal Adviser of Amnesty international, President Muhammadu Buhari has shown stunning disregard for the rule of law and human rights, ignoring Nigerian judges on at least 40 occasions.
The Nigerian Constitution is founded on the rule of law, the primary meaning of which is that everything must be done according to law. We are still in democracy and the President must obey the rule of law!