Celebrating Nigerian Independence Amidst Decaying Democracy -By Anthony Chukwuebuka Nwajiugo Esq.
Nigeria as a rustic that’s celebrating 60 years publish independence has over time managed the frail bond that has saved the various ethnic models collectively. That is no imply feat, which appears to have been achieved at the price of a decaying democracy, a mortgaged electoral construction and a feeble judicial system.
Democracy is a system of presidency the place state energy is vested on the folks and which system is sustained by a free and honest electoral course of, rule of legislation, an impartial judiciary, assured elementary human rights which embrace the liberty of expression and an environment friendly system of checks and balances amongst the assorted arms of presidency. It’s nonetheless unlucky that since 1960 until date, Nigeria can hardly boast of a really democratic authorities and that is largely attributed to pointless navy incursions and constant electoral malpractices which give start to unpopular civil governments that are in the behavior of encouraging govt and legislative lawlessness, abuse of human rights, muscling of the judiciary and dethronement of the rule of legislation.
The period of navy governance in Nigeria inspired arbitrary rule which noticed to the suspension of sure provisions of the Structure, ceaseless abuse of human rights together with further judicial killings of harmless Nigerians, reckless neglect of the legislation, suppression of press freedom, illegal arrests and detention of Nigerian residents, political corruption and above all disobedience of lawful courtroom orders. The harm and decay perpetuated in the course of the 30 years of navy misrule nearly decimated the inspiration of our nation, as govt impunity was the order of the day.
The idea of govt lawlessness turned so rampant that it gained judicial discover in the case of Navy Governor of Lagos State V. Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu ((1986) 1 NWLR (Half 18) 550 at 590) the place Kayode Eso JSC said as follows:
‘Exeuropeantive lawlessness is tantamount to a deliberate violation of the structure. When the manager is the navy authorities which blends each govt and the legislative powers collectively and which allows the judiciary to coexist with it within the administration of the nation, then it’s extra critical than imagined. The essence of rule of legislation is that it ought to by no means function underneath the rule of drive or worry, to make use of drive to impact and act and whereas underneath the Marshall of that drive, search the courts fairness is an try to infuse timidity into courtroom and function a sabotage of the cherished rule. It must not ever be’
With out belaboring the tragedy of navy governance in Nigeria, it seems that our civilian governments have been closely infested with the repulsive traits of navy rule, which explains the recklessness exerted by successive civilian governments, which have undermined the rule of legislation and Nigerian’s nascent democracy.
The notion of the rule of legislation envisages a state of affairs the place the legislation is supreme and everyone seems to be topic to the dictates of the legislation be it the federal government or the ruled. The rule of legislation advocates amongst different issues unequivocal enthronement of the legislation, equality of all individuals earlier than the legislation and an impartial judiciary that may adjudicate disputes with out worry or favour. It’s pertinent to notice that the rule of legislation can solely thrive in a constitutional democracy the place the legislation is supreme and above each particular person(s) or establishment within the nation. The rule of legislation being a constitutional notion is the hallmark of democratic governance in any political establishment. It signifies that every little thing should be achieved based on the legislation and by this, each the federal government and the ruled should at all times justify their actions in legislation. It is nonetheless unlucky that the legislation inside the scope of Nigerian interpretation is barely meant for the ruled whereas the federal government and the privileged few are above the legislation. The Government inside a federal system of presidency equivalent to in Nigeria might be likened to the English Kings of previous that wielded extreme energy to the detriment of their topics and the executives can’t be held accountable as identical will consequence to being hounded by safety operatives who act on the whims and caprices of the manager arm of presidency.
Through the Second Republic, the democratically elected authorities of Oyo State, Nigeria exactly on the fifth of September 1981 superintended the ugly execution of Mr. Nasiru Bello whereas he was nonetheless exercising his proper of attraction and this solely elicited public condemnation after his family filed a go well with within the case Bello V. A ttorney Normal of Oy o State (1986) 5 NWLR PART 45
Page 845 whereby Aniagolu JSC within the above case famous that:
‘This is the primary case on this nation, of which I’m conscious, during which a official Authorities of this country- previous or current; colonial or indigenous-hastily and illegally snuffed off the lifetime of an appellant whose attraction had vested and was in being, with no order of Courtroom upon the attraction, and with a reckless disregard for the life and liberty of the topic and the rules of the Rule of Legislation. The brutal incident has bespattered the face of the Oyo State Authorities with the paintbrush of disgrace.
The above situation additional explains the explanation for the rise within the spate of additional judicial killings orchestrated by the Nigerian police and safety companies in Nigeria with none type of retribution. The Amnesty Worldwide in 2009 reported the additional judicial killing of 1 Mr. Chukwuemeka Matthew Onovo who was killed on the 4th of July 2008. Though police claimed he was an armed robber, the Amnesty Worldwide report present that there was no conclusive proof to justify such a declare by the Nigerian Police. Nation Newspaper reported one other pathetic case of 1 Chibuike Anam, a 23-year-old pupil, who was killed within the firm of two mates at a guesthouse in Elimgbu, Rivers State on the twenty fourth of July 2009. In line with the report, the police within the regular method had raided the guesthouse; the younger man tried to flee and was shot useless on the spot. His mates had been arrested however had been later launched. About 4 months in the past, BBC information reported the further judicial killing of a 17-year-old Tina Ezekwe, who was murdered by a drunken police officer and up until at the present time, we’re but to listen to of the retribution of the legislation in opposition to the mentioned police officer. Punch Newspaper on the sixteenth of January 2020, reported the ugly homicide of 1 Mr. Kolade Johnson by an officer of the Nigerian Police on the sixteenth of March 2019 of which it took public outcry earlier than the Nigerian police dismissed the mentioned officer and charged the officer to courtroom. On the sixteenth of December 2017, the Punch Newspaper reported the Odi Bloodbath which was an assault carried out by the Nigerian Navy on the folks of Odi neighborhood on the twentieth of November 1999 which killing was alleged to have been achieved upon the orders of the then Nigerian Authorities.
Within the gentle of the foregoing accounts of additional judicial killings by the Nigerian Police and the armed forces, it’s clear that the elemental proper to life in Nigeria is a privilege and never a proper per se as such proper appears to be for the safety of the privileged few in authorities whereas the ruled can free theirs with out repercussions. These are unlucky tragedies occurring at a time when democratically elected governments who have sworn to defend the lives and property of Nigerian residents are accountable for state energy. The pathetic spate of illegal killings in Nigeria was effectively captured within the guide ‘Killing at Will’ by Amnesty worldwide within the following phrases:
‘Extrajudicial executions, different illegal killings and enforced disappearances in Nigeria aren’t random. In a rustic the place bribes assure security, those that can not afford to pay are vulnerable to being shot or tortured to dying by the police. The households of the victims usually can not afford to hunt justice or redress, as a result of they can’t pay for a lawyer or the courtroom charges. In lots of instances, they can’t even afford to retrieve the physique.’
Past the problem of additional judicial killings prevalent in Nigeria, we even have instances of illegal arrests and detentions, bribery and corruption, illegal removing of political workplace holders by the manager and the legislature and abuse of political places of work bedeviling our democracy. In all of those, one begins to surprise what position or impact the judiciary has within the sustainance of our no-longer nascent democracy. The Judiciary as an impartial third arm of presidency is vested with various capabilities and duties underneath the Nigerian structure and which amongst others contains the interpretation of the legislation. The judiciary having been empowered by Section 6 of the 1999 Structure is on the apex of checks and balances; it has the first obligation of inquiring into the legality of acts of the manager and the legislature. Any query on whether or not the manager has acted intra vires or extremely vires or has complied strictly with the process, method or kind prescribed by legislation is decided by the Courtroom. It’s apparent that each time the Judiciary didn’t play its stabilizing position in Nigerian democratic state, democracy is both threatened or certain to be truncated. That is the case the place the rights of Nigerian residents have been abrogated however judicial interventions thereby leaving poor Nigerian lots disillusioned because the Judiciary, which is deemed to be the final hope of the frequent man, is now perceived to be a toothless bulldog with its independence on trial.
The depth of govt recklessness wrecking Nigeria’s democracy is additional underscored with the speed of disobedience of courtroom orders by the manager arm of presidency. The current case of Col. Sambo Dasuki V. Federal Republic of Nigeria
& Ors (2018) LPELR-43897 (SC) the place the Federal Authorities till not too long ago refused to launch Col. Sambo Dasuki however a number of courtroom orders granting him bail is a matter that ought to give sleepless nights to each effectively that means Nigerian. We even have the case of Sheikh El zakzaky V. State Safety
Service & Ors in go well with quantity FHC/ABJ/CS/281/2016 whereby Justice Kolawole granted bail to the chief of the Islamic Motion of Nigeria however the mentioned Courtroom Order is but to be complied with by the Federal Authorities. It is a gross abuse of the rule of legislation as such disobedience not solely portrays arbitrary rule but additionally destroys the arrogance reposed on our judiciary by the lots.
Not too long ago, a number of information retailers in Nigeria reported probably the most ugly inhibition of the independence of judiciary following the midnight hounding and arrest of seven judges of which amongst them had been two justices of the Supreme Courtroom by the officers of the Division of State Safety Companies (DSS) upon the allegation of corruption. The arrest of those judicial officers was perpetuated in flagrant neglect of the position of Nationwide Judicial Council as supplied underneath the 1999 structure, which is the establishment, charged with self-discipline of judicial officers in Nigeria. This try to muzzle the judiciary is coming at a time in Nigeria that the judiciary is battling to curb govt lawlessness manifested within the Federal authorities’s disobedience of a number of Courtroom orders.
These are harmful occasions for Nigerian democracy because the judiciary charged with the safety of the rights of Nigerian lots can be struggling to guard itself from the overbearing excesses of the Government arm of presidency. One will hardly blame the cowardly disposition of the judiciary on this making an attempt time because the third arm continues to be making an attempt to recuperate from the shock of the removing of the erstwhile Chief Justice of Nigeria-Justice Walter Onnoghen by the Federal Authorities with out recourse to the supply of Part 292 of the 1999 Structure.
As we have fun 60 years of our independence from colonial rule, I consider it’s apposite that the occasions of previous and up to date occasions ought to actually trigger each the federal government and the ruled to replicate on our dedication in direction of democratic rule in Nigeria because the rule of legislation we dragged to the mud as we speak could also be our solely succour tomorrow in our personal determined time. God bless Nigeria.
By: Anthony Chukwuebuka Nwajiugo Esq. (LL.M).
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