NIGERIA POLITICS: The Imperative of Rule of Law in Nnamdi Kanu’s Case
It remains highly provocative, disgusting and deplorable that Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Director of Radio Biafra, is still languishing in President Muhammadu Buhari/Yemi Osibanjo detention centre at Kuje, Abuja, despite subsisting Federal High Court order for his immediate release issued by Justice Adeniyi Ademola.
Equally provocative and particularly disturbing is the fact that Mr. Kanu’s continued detention against the order of a court of competent jurisdiction signals in no small extent a very dangerous trend within the ambience a self-styled democratic society which, incidentally, is under the watch of people who rode to power courtesy of respect for democratic niceties. Of course, by implication, if the erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan had had or shown the sort of ugly, stubborn and crass inclination to disobeying court orders, laws, democratic norms and values as currently typical of the negative behavior of Buhari-Osibanjo-led government, perhaps, like the June 12, 1993 Presidential debacle, the fate of the incumbent APC-led government would have been a clear case of still-birth. Yes, still-birth!
Predictably, at worse, crises would have erupted and people would have died, as they are after all dying and/or being killed anyhow by Fulani herdsmen under the watch of this confused government. And perhaps in the circumstance of worst case scenario, the military would have moved in to take over the mantle of leadership of the Nigerian state. And then in the final analysis, Buhar-Osibanjo Presidential ambition would have been successfully scuttled. Needless to say it that the story would have simply ended there, like others of its kind in the past. After all, the then Major-General Muhammadu Buhari did it to Shagari-Ekwueme-led democratically elected government and nothing happened. Similarly, both the lives of General Sani Abacha and Alhaji MKO Abiola were cut short and yet Nigeria forged ahead. By the same token, therefore, nothing of far-reaching consequence will have happened if Muhammadu Buhari had or should suffer a similar fate today.
Anyway, back to the fundamental issue of this piece, it is no longer news that the prevailing assault on constitutionalism and constitutional democracy in Nigeria today apparently speaks volumes about the general malaises and utter negation of the principles of rule of law that are inherent in Buhari-Osibanjo-led government. Thus, for more than one year now, that this government has not been able to sustain any serious or meaningful charge against Mr. Nnmadi Kanu, a citizen alleged to have committed a “heinous” offence against the Nigeria state, is, to say the least, quite unfortunate. In the same vein, that it has not been able to secure or conclude a successful prosecution of any of the Biafra agitators being detained here and there for too long now, is yet a pointer to the fact that this callous government merely takes delight in abusing/violating peoples’ human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Unexpectedly, though, it is obvious that the only thing it (this government) is notoriously good at doing and/or may have accomplished so far is its consistency in observing the laws of the land and orders of courts of competent jurisdiction in utter breach. Thereby, more often than not, replacing the rule of law, which encapsulates the idea that the law of a state is supreme, with the rule of man (thereby accentuating and propagating the nasty idea that the whims, caprices, prejudices and wishful thinking of President Muhammadu Buhari are not only above and beyond our established laws, but also constitute commands that must be obeyed by all and sundry, willy-nilly).Indeed, this absolutely poor mentality of President Muhammadu Buhari which went viral/public in his first and only Presidential media chat ever held, during which time he reportedly claimed that court order or no court order Mr. Nnamdi Kanu would never be released due to his alleged “heinous crime” against the Nigerian state, deserves in an unmistakable terms a total condemnation. This is more so imperative considering the fact that our seemingly intimidated judiciary has ever since then been strenuously striving to do the bidding of President Buhari and/or follow his so-called (but plainly useless) body language at the expense of the laid down rules of law.
Little wonder that Nigerian government prosecutors have been having a field day slowing down the pace and course of justice in Nnamdi Kanu’s case, among others. Incidentally, from being accused of having allegedly committed the offence of felony against the Nigerian state, to being lately slammed with the derisive charge of terrorism – which of course came up later as an afterthought. This in a nutshell explains the risible, indecisive, puerile and erratic attitude of the Nigerian government over its frivolous allegations against Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, the Director of Radio. But so far, all to no avail. And there is no gainsaying that the Buhari-Osibanjo-led government will ever continue to blindly shop for sustainable charges against the person of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.
That aside, it is now clear that the only seemingly courageous Justice, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who managed to take up the gauntlet by granting Mr. Nnamdi Kanu unconditional bail, is today being persecuted and prosecuted by Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly being corrupt. Meanwhile, this is the same President whose lawyer reportedly gave the same Justice Ademola the sum of five hundred thousand (#500,000) Naira gift (bribe in disguise) during the latter’s daughter’s wedding, and all of this apparently happening at a time the case of President Muhammadu Buhari’s certificate scandal was seen to be receiving attention before the court of law presided over by the same Justice Ademola. Surely, as the saying goes, wonders shall never cease! Yet, here we are all being misled by Buhari-Osibanjo-led government that Justice Ademola is not being victimized because of his ruling in favour of Nnamdi Kanu (?).
Anyway, the obvious now is that the case of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu and Mr. Buhari – and not necessarily the Nigerian state (if you ask me) – is no longer within the commonsensical discretion of President Muhammadu Buhari who has not only refused to think rightly but also to act legally and wisely. And like the proverbial saying that when a man is confronted with a huge bargain bigger than a farm land, he readily sells off his barn for the sake of embracing the huge bargain. In like manner, now that President Muhammadu Buhari has reasonably passed unto the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, the actual powers of the President in order to enable him squarely confront the “huge bargain” at his nerve in United Kingdom, it is high time the acting President stood up to his feet and began to do all the needful that had otherwise eluded the country hitherto.
Arguably, though, it is understandable that part of the trouble with President Mahummadu Buhar’s style of leadership and, indeed, limited human rights awareness is not unconnected with his seriously qualitative education deficit, which good enough the acting President (Prof.) Yemi Osibanjo has ample amount of it. It therefore becomes incumbent on and imperative for the latter to allow the rule of law to prevail in the case of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, and others, currently languishing in Buhari’s dungeon. No doubt, this will help a great deal in rescuing the country from the abyss which Mr. Muhammadu Buhari left it in before being suddenly struck by the fire of nemesis, and thus necessitating his inevitable flight to United Kingdom for his dear life.
– Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije, a Journalist, Writes from Abuja & can be contacted via: (+234)07012130204.