The continued detention of former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki despite two court orders against such obviously negates the underpinnings of Constitutional government, which Nigeria putatively is.
The evidences of this misnomer needn’t any repeating other than to stress that the “Change” slogan of the present regime is a farce.
After Sambo Dasuki’s arraignment by the Department of State Security, DSS, for illegal arms possession, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, on 3 November, 2015 admitted him to a bail on health grounds. But the DSS disobeyed the order, and a miffed Justice Ademola chided the secret police in subsequent proceeding on the matter.
“I have made an order which has to be obeyed and the order is to the effect that the accused be allowed to go abroad as from November 4 to treat his ailment within three weeks and return to the court on November 26 for his trial … I stand by my order,” Justice Ademola stated. The judge went further to describe the development as “lawlessness” and a “mess”.
The government didn’t only show it was, and still is, abhorrent of due process and the Rule of Law, it also displayed disregard for the sanctity of human life. Despite his devil-may-care attitude towards Dasuki’s health challenge, President Muhammadu Buhari recently jetted to London for a six-day holiday, during which he purportedly met his doctors.
The regime showed its soiled hands again when it flouted another bail granted by Justice Peter Affen of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory to Sambo Dasuki on 21 December, 2015. While the DSS released Dasuki’s five co-accused in the separate charge of laundering N13 billion, it held on to its conquest – Sambo Dasuki.
The Muhammadu Buhari government has displayed apparent retribution and arrogated to itself the roles of a police, court and judge. The clearest justification for this reasoning was supplied by the president himself during his maiden television media chat on 29 December, 2015.
“If you see the atrocities these people committed against this country, we can’t allow them to jump bail,” the president said. President Buhari needs purge himself of his dictatorial hangover as a former head of military junta and be reminded that he swore to an oath to protect the Nigerian Constitution. The provision of Section 35 (1) is very explicit on the entitlement of every Nigerian to ‘his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such.” The corollary to this is provided in Section 36(5), which states: “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty.”
Ex-Supreme Court judge George Oguntade was succinct on the concept of bail , which is the life of personal liberty in criminal justice administration.
Oguntade, then, J.C.A, in Comptroller of Nigerian Prisons v. Adekanye (1999) 10 NWLR (Pt. 623) said, among other things, that “detention of a man by a fellow man is a violation of the law of God and man. I am not oblivious of the fact that there are checks and balances to the series of freedom given.”
Speaking in the same vein, human rights lawyer Femi Falana in an opinion said that “the decision of the SSS to ignore the order admitting Col. Dasuki to bail coupled with the failure to re-arraign him on fresh charges is tantamount to impunity in every material respect.”
The Buhari regime’s disobedience to court orders is a denigration of the judiciary and one that produces a conviction that the president is inordinately engrossed in a vendetta. President knows his monster, the reason for which he sought to allay people’s fear about before he became president.
“A few people have privately voiced fears that on coming back to office I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores. The past is prologue”, President Buhari said during his inauguration on 29 May, 2015. Nigerians, now, know better. They have simply being duped.
President Buhari may also have forgotten that his statement at the United States Institute of Peace on 22 July, 2015, in where he said: “Again, as with every action of the government that I lead, we would be fair, just, and scrupulously follow due process, and the rule of law, as enshrined in our Constitution.”
Buhari during his presidential campaign in Kaduna in March 2015 said that “whoever that is indicted for corruption between 1999 to the time of swearing-in would be pardoned. I am going to draw a line, anybody who involved himself in corruption after I assume office, will face the music.” Is President Muhammadu Buhari truly a man of his word?
While no one supports a blanket amnesty for corrupt persons, the courts must be given free hands to operate.
Assailing the judiciary in whatever guise is a sad reminder of Nigeria’s inglorious past typified by military adventurism in civil governance, which the retired General Buhari was part of.
He who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Nigeria must begin to strengthen its institutions for sustenance of democratic governance, adherence constitutionalism, Rule of Law and maintenance of civil liberties.
The Nigeria of now requires a president with a modernist worldview and must demonstrate adherence to democratic ethos. The way to go is for the president to respect the court orders and unbiasedly allow the trial run full cycle.