Posted by News Express | 4 November 2015 | 2,972 times
Nigeria is fast slipping into dictatorship and State terrorism, the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has warned. The group in a petition to
Hon Justice Mahmud Mohammed, Chairman of the National Judicial Council & Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), and Hon Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa, President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), cited instances to buttress its claim, among them executive interference in the work of the judiciary and disrespect for judicial decisions. The latest instance, according to Intersociety, is the refusal by the Department of Security Services (DSS) to release Biafran separatist leader nnamdi Kanu despite being granted bail by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Signed by Board Chairman Emeka Umeagbalasi; Head, Campaign & Publicity Department, Uzochukwu Oguejiofor-Nwonu, Esq.; and Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., the petition was copied President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki, House Speaker Yakubu Dogara, National Security Adviser, Retired Major Gen Babagana Monguno, and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmud Yakubu.
Below are excerpts of the petition dated November 3, 2015:
“Today, the integrity of the Nigerian Judicial is again under a serious threat particularly over the roles of some judges in 2015 elections judicial reviews with specific reference to Rivers and Akwa Ibom States Governorship judicial petitions. There is also a serious threat to the independence of the judiciary occasioned by rapacious and reckless executive meddlesomeness via its coercive agencies in electoral judicial proceedings with clear intent to arrest, corrupt and influence their judgments to favour their paymasters.
“For example, Your Lordships, for the first time in the history of democracy in Nigeria, top officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) including State Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) have been arrested, detained, tortured and possibly coerced into recanting their original signatures appended on sensitive election result documents. The said arrest, detention, torture and forced recanting was solely carried out by the country’s Department of Security Services or DSS during the proceedings of concerned electoral matters in the electoral tribunals (i.e. Rivers and Akwa Ibom States). Some members of electoral tribunals have also spoken out and disclosed publicly their ordeals in the hands of the DSS in the course of their membership or chairmanship of election petitions tribunals.
“Further to the foregoing is a steady manifestation of dictatorial tendencies in the conducts of the executive arm of government since 29th May 2015 when the present federal executive arm was brought to power. The judiciary as the bastion of democracy is steadily threatened and intimidated. The dictatorial tendencies of the executive are openly exhibited using the same DSS. We are forced by these unfolding circumstances to believe that the present federal executive has jettisoned the rule of law and the 1999 Constitution and dusted up the moribund and obnoxious Decrees 2 and 4 of 1984.
“Our conclusion was arrived at considering the fact that none of the 320 sections of the 1999 Constitution empowers the President or any head of his coercive establishments particularly the DSS to detain citizens extra judicially or after being granted judicial bails upon fulfillment of judicially imposed bail conditions. The last time citizens including media practitioners and rights activists were detained for weeks or months or years without judicial trials or bails, upon the orders of the Military Head of State was during the inglorious military era of Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) using infamous Decrees of 2 and 4 of 1984.
“Your Lordships, we are compelled to say that ominous signs are steadily hanging around the neck of the country’s constitutional and pluralistic democracy. There are sustained attempts from the federal executive arm to destroy the country’s judiciary so as to pave way for democratic dictatorship. To the point that the executive arm now recklessly uses its coercive institutions particularly the DSS to lampoon and threaten the independence of the judiciary is not only a height of executive dictatorial disposition but also brazen commencement of a journey to dictatorial democratic wilderness. That citizens can be held in perpetuity under circumstances unknown to the 1999 Constitution and the principles of the rule of law is a further attestation to impending dictatorship and State terrorism.
“Our writing Your Lordships is not only on account of Your Lordships’ responsibilities as they concern electoral superior court matters superintendence, but most importantly as the general overseers of the Nigerian Judiciary, which is the bastion of democracy and last hope of common person (man). Your Lordships must ensure at all moral and legal costs and times that the Judiciary, particularly its independence and integrity are not further denigrated and rubbished by the executive arm. The statement credited to Hon Justice Muazu Pindigi over his ordeal in the hands of the DSS is too weighty to be ignored or swept under the carpet. It should be looked into unreservedly. The lives, liberties and reputations of the judges particularly those who refused to be bought over or soiled, must be protected by Your Lordships at all times. At the same time, the long throated judicial officers who have chosen to soil the image of the Judiciary by conniving with conscienceless mortals in political kaftans must be identified, exposed, condemned, shamed and punished.”
On the “Extra-Judicial Detention of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB”, Intersociety wrote: “Citizen Nnamdi Kanu lives in UK. He is also a dual citizen of Nigeria and United Kingdom and director of the Indigenous People of Biafra –a self determination movement as well as director of Radio Biafra. Arrested on October 17, 2015 and charged at the Abuja Municipal Magistrate Court in Wuse, Zone 2, on 19th October 2015 with criminal allegations of Criminal Conspiracy, Managing & Belonging to Unlawful Society and Criminal Intimidation contrary to Sections 97, 97b and 397 of the Penal Code (applicable in Northern Nigeria).
“He was granted bail same date with a civil servant of Grade Level 16 with a landed property within Abuja metropolis and a sum of N10 million as bail sureties. The bail conditions were fully met on October 22nd, but the DSS refused to release him even till date. No reasons have been given for refusal to release him from DSS custody. Three more orders (production order, transfer order and release order) have been made by the Abuja Municipal Magistrate Court between 23rd and 28th October 2015 and duly served on the DSS, yet they were flouted with reckless abandon. There are also no traces of another court order under which Citizen Kanu has remained detained by the DSS and as we write, he has been extra-judicially detained by the DSS for eleven days since 22nd October 2015 when he fulfilled all his bail conditions. No formal statements or clarifications have also been made by the DSS over the issue till date.
“The letter should also contain a call on the executive arm to desist from involving in conducts capable of plunging the country and its democracy into anarchy. The executive arm must be told in unmistakable terms to obey the order of the Abuja Municipal Magistrate Court, in Wuse Zone 2, by releasing Citizen Nnamdi Kanu immediately and desist from further detaining citizens under conditions and circumstances clearly incoherent and inconsistent with the 1999 Constitution and principles of the rule of law.”
•Photo shows CJN, Mahmud Mohammed.
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