Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), a renowned constitutional lawyer has expressed displeasure over President Muhammadu Buhari’s continued disrespect for the rule of law.
He said those advising the president to put Nigerians on the stakes and shoot them to death, without even trying them in the fight against corruption were his worst enemies, Vanguard reports.
Speaking with newsmen on Wednesday, January 13, the outspoken lawyer said Buhari will know those deceiving him when the chips are down.
“Those who may be telling the President that oh! You are fighting corruption, put Nigerians on the stakes and shoot them to death, don’t even try them! They are deceiving Mr. President. When the chips are down, Mr. President would see that those were his greatest enemies,” he said.
Ozekhome, who was apparently not happy over the federal government’s refusal to respect court orders that granted some accused persons facing corruption trial bail said, the rule of law has so far been put into perpetual retreat and Nigeria has never had so bad.
According to him, once the court has decided a matter, neither the president, Senate president, nor the speaker of the House of Representatives has the power to tell a court of law that the bail you have granted we are not obeying it because of that hallowed doctrine of the separation of powers.
He said: “Under the Yar’Adua /Jonathan period, you could abuse president Jonathan. People described him as clueless; some politicians even described him as the drunken Ijaw boy. They ridiculed and caricatured Patience Jonathan with her mode and manner of speaking but never for one day did we hear a writer or journalist being picked up for that.
“Even if Nigerians were hungry, Nigerians enjoyed one thing in the last administration which was respect for fundamental human rights. I am afraid that under the present government of President Buhari, the rule of law is being observed more in breach than in compliance.”
He explained that after a court of law has delivered a judgment and set free an accused person on bail, the accused person must go on bail and it is not for the president to say such person will would not be released on bail because they would jump bail.
The lawyer said by doing so, the president was “making himself a superintendent and overseer and an appellate court over decisions of a court of competent jurisdiction which under a constitutional democracy like ours and under the rule of law can never be possible.”
According to him, the only thing the government can do is to appeal against that judgment or apply to set it aside.
Ozekhome advised Buhari to obey the rule of law and ensure that various security agencies respect the fundamental rights and liberties of Nigerians.
He noted that even prisoners of war are entitled to fundamental human rights, so in the fight against insurgency and corruption, the rights of the Nigerian citizens are still to be respected.
“So Mr. President must be told in very clear words that there is no option to respecting the civil liberties and fundamental human rights of Nigerians,” he added.
Four days back, Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) had cautioned President Buhari to ensure the rule of law was respected. He said Nigerians were fully behind the Buhari administration in the patriotic move to recover the nation’s looted wealth, but the federal government should follow the tenets of the rule of law.
According to him, the re-arrest of the immediate past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, and the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, after they were granted bails by different courts amounts to impunity.