A human rights activist and legal practitioner, Femi Aborisade has lampooned the Nigeria Bar Association for keeping quiet when President Mohammadu Buhari was usurping the function of the judiciary by redefining rule of law to justify his continued disobedience of court orders and deprive Nigerians of their inalienable right to freedom under the guise of national security.
”National security overriding rule of law and individual freedom is the Constituted authority definition of rule of law”, he lamented in a chat with World Street Journal on Monday in a response to Buhari’s keynote address at the 2018 NBA Annual conference in Abuja on Sunday.
Buhari had said Rule of Law must be subject to the supremacy of the nation’s security and national interest.
“Our apex court has had cause to adopt a position on this issue in this regard and it is now a matter of judicial recognition that; where national security and public interest are threatened or there is a likelihood of their being threatened, the individual rights of those allegedly responsible must take second place, in favour of the greater good of society,’’ he said.
The renowned lawyer however, regretted that ”It is unfortunate that President Buhari could assault rule of law concept at a lawyers conference without a serious challenge”, stressing ”it shows how real this society has degenerated”. According to him, it is for the court to determine when and if national security would override the freedom of the individual and then hold that the individual may not be released.
”For the executive to act blatantly against court orders directing release of a detainee, rationalise Executive lawlessness/rascality and receive an applause rather than an instant protest of disapproval makes me sick.
We didn’t have it so bad even under military dictatorship. For the military to take away rule of law and the power of court to adjudicate in matters of basic freedom, they had to put in place Decree No. 2, which ousted the jurisdiction of the court once produced in court.”
Aborisade recalled that he and some activists had the experience of being detained under decree No 2. He however, noted that the military authorities didn’t have effrontery to determine which court orders to obey in matters of individual liberty. He said they made a law to oust the jurisdiction of the court. He noted with dismay that today, in a regime in which the vice president is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN and former Attorney General, ”rule of law is being assaulted and we are all being insulted by a fascistic and reactionary definition of rule of law”.
”Yet, the regime is being applauded. What a shame! Let the APC pass law to say the Executive would have the discretion to obey or not obey court orders in matters of individual freedom. We reject being ruled by the whims and caprices of an individual or a cabal”, he said.