Posted by News Express | 19 November 2019 | 613 times
Eminent lawyer and activist Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, SAN, has advised Nigerians to prepare for four more years of dictatorship by President Muhammadu Buhari. He gave the advice in a Keynote Address delivered at the 7th News Express Anniversary Lecture held on Thursday, November 14, 2019, at the Main Hall of Ikeja Sheraton Hotel, Lagos.
Adegboruwa, who spoke on the topic, “The Role of the Rule of Law in Getting Nigeria Out of the Woods”, lamented that lack of respect for rule of law and human rights by the Buhari administration “has contributed to worsening Nigeria’s problems”.
He stressed the need to uphold rule of law in Nigeria, describing it as being non-negotiable if the country is to overcome her multifarious problems.
The erudite lawyer disagreed with the official position that corruption is Nigeria’s main problem, declaring, instead, that bad leadership – rather than corruption – is what may end up killing the country unless Nigerians successfully demand good governance and respect for the rule of law. Below is his presentation:
There is no doubt that the rule of law is unambiguously enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution. The only surprising thing to every sane individual is the blatant disrespect shown to this constitutional provision by Nigerian rulers who have openly sworn to uphold it. From the backdrop of several cases of unjustifiable arrests, unfair trials, executive lawlessness, suppression of free speech and undue domination of minorities, this article attempts to defend the thesis that Nigerian rulers have become sybaritic in their conscious reduction of the concept of the rule of law to a mere constitutional myth and never a reality that it was intended to be, thereby overlooking the attendant setbacks such impunities have brought to the Nation’s economy, such as scaring away foreign investors and more taunting is the disrepute and embarrassment it brings to Nigerian nationals in diaspora in their dealings with the international communities.
KEYWORDS: Rule of law, Legal positivism, Executive lawlessness, The Ripple effect of Abuse, Democratic government, and Absolute supremacy of the Rule of Law.
Law can be conceived as the express formulation of enforceable rules by the appropriate law-making body in a society, for the purpose of balancing and safe-guarding individual and the collective interests. Thomas Davitt (1959) defines law as a directive judgment formed by the law-making authority. According to McLean and McMillan (2003), law means the body of rules enforced by any sovereign state. But philosophically, can we accept any rule enforced by any state as a law? Or, is positive law the only type of law which exists? Must a rule, in order to be called a law, conform to certain universal principles or precepts? And lastly, what is the relationship between laws in the legal sense and scientific sense? In tackling the above posers, it must be observed that there are two great divides:
the legal naturalists, on one hand and the legal positivists, on the other hand. In this article, we shall not be concerned with the position of the legal naturalists. The reason for this position has a lot to do with the subjective requirements or reasoning of the natural law, which necessarily include appeals to the absolute and other religious revelation and wild claims.
The grounds for rejecting natural laws are obvious: they are incompatible with legal objectivity. That is, they are not dependent on the actions of particular legislators, and, in most cases, are derivable from religious revelation. Thus, natural laws cannot be regarded as proper laws. According to legal positivism, only positive laws which basically form the rule of law exist. Laws are, therefore, made by legislators; they do not exist, awaiting discovery, before a law-making act takes place. Moralizing about what the law ought to be is thus a logically separate activity from discovering or deciding what the law is. Legal positivism as a sound legal doctrine has continued to dominate the thinking about law since the time of William Blackstone in the eighteenth-century. From the nineteenth-century to date, great thinkers like John Austin, John Finnis, Nikolai Lenin and H. L. A. Hart have consistently and convincingly presented legal positivism as the paradigm of what should pass for law. The important thing to note about law whether from the perspective of the naturalists or positivists is that the law and legal structures exist to prevent one person from enjoying his liberty unchecked at the expense of the other person (Azikiwe, 1958). This assumption shall form the focus of this discussion.
2. The Rule of Law
In every society, the rule of law is very essential. But what is the rule of law? It is that aspect of law which envisages a political system where life is organized according to laws that guarantee a good degree of objectivity in dispensing justice, defending freedom, promoting peace and prosperity because law is a reasonable expression of integrity. If law is an obligatory rule of action prescribed by the supreme power of a state, then the rule of law means that every citizen shall not be exposed to the arbitrary desire of the ruler and that the exercise of the powers of government shall be conditioned by law. No one can be lawfully restrained or punished except for a definite breach of law established before the courts in ordinary legal manner. According to Garner, the rule of law is defined as: ‘a legal principle of general application sanctioned by the recognition of authorities, usually expressed in the form of maxim or logical proposition Garner further states why it is called “rule”, because in doubtful or unforeseen cases it is a guide or norm for any decision. The rule of law is sometimes seen as the supremacy of law. It provides that decisions be made by application of known principles or laws, without the intervention or discretion in their application. But before we examine the basic interpretations of the rule of law, it is necessary to note that the rule of law can be seen as the expression of the will of those who govern with or without the consent of the democratically constituted electorate. However, it is doubtful whether democracy can be obtained without the consent of the demos. For anything short of the consent of the masses, what would be operational will be mere authoritarianism. Thus, the rule of law implies that it is a democratic principle. As a socio-political necessity, the rule of law is something necessitated in the contract of the society and government in view of equality or inequality of men. The concept of the rule of law also stipulates that all are equal in the eyes of the law except certain officials like Presidents and Governors who may be acting in their official capacity. This does not in any way mean that they should flout court rulings or show disrespect to the constitution. But it means that if sued, they may not be compelled to appear in the court personally. And in most cases, it is the institution or offices which they are superintending that would be sued. However, with the establishment of International Court of Justice in The Hague, Presidents of different countries who are enjoying all kinds of immunity should be very cautious in their conduct, for they can still be tried in their personal capacities for whatever crime they committed against humanity during their tenure. The rule of law as was formulated by Dicey (1939) has three basic interpretations:
1) There is the absolute supremacy of regular laws as opposed to the influence of arbitrary power. That means, a man may be tried and punished for a breach of the law, but he cannot be punished for anything else;
2) The rule of law clearly stipulates common equality before the law of the land administered by the ordinary law courts. That can be interpreted to mean that no man, irrespective of his social or official position, is above the law.
Everyone is duty-bound to obey the same law; and
3) The rule of law holds that the legal rights of the subjects are secured not by guaranteed rights proclaimed in a formal code but by the operation of the ordinary remedies of private law available against those who unlawfully interfere with his liberty of action, whether they are private or official citizens. From Dicey’s analysis, it is obvious that the concept of the rule of law clearly answers the query: does the state exist on its own right over and above the citizens’ right? It is decipherable from the preceding discussion that the rule of law is an accepted common phenomenon both in view of natural and positive laws. The rule of law is thus very necessary for justice to prevail in the society. This would involve the supremacy of the law over the whims and caprices either of the individual or the state. This rule further helps potential leaders to be instructed
on the need to respect the law. The citizens on the other hand will take example from the leaders. But above all, it will enhance the sustenance of the democratic ideal. One more fact is that it is only when the courts are independent of the government, and thoroughly committed to enforcing the obedience of the government to the law of the land, can the rule of law be meaningful.
3. The Rule of Law and the Nigerian Experience
Nigerian government claims to be a democratic government under the rule of law. In principle, Nigeria subscribes to the application of known laws without intervention in their application. In the concept of the rule of law, the courts are expected to play some vital role in applying the law without respect for persons. Accordingly, judges are expected to be courageous, impartial, independent, just and be respecters of no persons no matter how highly exalted their positions in the society may be. The major issue here is that without an independent judiciary with incorruptible judges the rule of law cannot be sustained. By the demands of the rule of law, the government and its officials are duty-bound to respect and obey the law in all its actions. This means every government must endeavor to minimize arbitrariness in its policies and use of power. Thus, government must be guided by the rule of law in the exercise of its powers. But in Nigeria, the rule of law is more or less a farcical concept. Nigeria is unable to obey set down rules and operate within the norms of a given establishment. In this case, obedience to court orders is a paramount measuring index of compliance with the rules of law in any society. Often times, public servants in Nigeria, especially chief executives, behave and carry themselves about as if they are above the laws or are not subject to any authority. These happened more often in Nigeria during the military regimes and unfortunately even still persist during civilian regimes. Military regime in itself is naturally an aberration of the rule of law, because of its outright rejection of the rule of law. Civilian regimes in Nigeria have not fared better, either with respect to the rule of law. In fact, civilian administrators seem to surpass the military in their open disrespect to the rule of law. Obasanjo’s administration in Nigeria was the worst when it comes to compliance with the rule of law. Obasanjo’s regime was also an embodiment of executive lawlessness in Nigeria.
The feuds between the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government over the failure to remit funds allocation meant for Local Government Councils in Lagos are a typical example of executive lawlessness in Nigeria. Despite the judgement of the Supreme Court on the matter, the defaulting party, and in this case, Federal Government was still defiant, looking for reasons to justify its position including going back to court, as if to seek permission to continue in the disobedience. In many cases, a Nigerian ruler in brazen show of dictatorship, tries to use the vehicle of the law to advance his purpose and so enacts laws to silence everybody from criticizing him, or opposing his oppressive policies. Such laws even oust the jurisdiction of courts so that nobody,
not even the court can question the ruler. Examples are many in Nigeria. Check for instance section 3 (3) of the Public Officers (Special Provisions) Act, Cap 381, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 which provides inter alia:
“No civil proceeding shall lie or be instituted in any court for or on account of, or in respect of any act, matter or thing done or purported to be done by any person under this Act and if any such proceedings have been or are instituted before, on or after the making of this Act, the proceedings shall abate, be discharged and made void.”
This is wrong because nobody is above the law. Though such provisions as shown above still remain in our statute books today, but they are a sad reminder of executive lawlessness and a brazen attempt to use the laws to legitimize their oppression and suppression of the people. Most public officers in Nigeria have failed to understand that the laws, rules and regulations for public servants are designed to guide them in the discharge of their public duties. That means, no laws place them above the laws of the land. For instance, when Obasanjo embarked on his 93rd trip abroad on June 10, 2002, ThisDay Newspaper gave a seminal editorial which classified his foreign trips not simply as unjustifiable, but frivolous. And the paper added that the trip in question was a mere exercise in total synchrony with his proclivity for frivolities. When other papers like the widely circulated Mid-Day News attempted an exposition on the secret behind his foreign trips on July 06, 2002, Obasanjo against all advice resorted to executive lawlessness - a crackdown on journalists. He woefully failed to realize the constitutional procedure in a civil society.
Another way in which the rule of law is usually jettisoned by government in Nigeria is in the taking of arbitrary decisions and defying some set down rules. For example, there had been feuds between the Executive Arm of the Federal Government and the National Assembly over the implementation of the 2005 Appropriation Law. The National Assembly had complained that the Executive were unilaterally reviewing the budget without resort to the National Assembly. The bad blood generated and the negative effect thereof on the economy and polity would have been avoided if the Executive had remembered the law and complied with the procedure of reviewing the budget. Illegal arrest, detentions, trials, banning of trade unions and popular organizations, harassment of civil rights Campaigners; illegal proscriptions of media houses, extra-judicial killings as in Gbaramatu (in Delta State), Odi (in Bayelsa State), Zarki-Biam (in Benue State), secret trials like that of Henry Okah, Agba Jalingo and other hostile acts against the Citizenry perpetrated by Nigerian leaders have become a daily occurrence in every state of the Federation. By Exhibiting these reprehensible attitudes, Nigeria has consciously reduced the concept of the rule of law to a mere Myth. The fiat and manner in which the privileged ones go about trampling upon the rights of others and carelessly abusing the law of the land in every ramification have proved to the sceptics that the concept of the rule of law as enshrined in the constitution is a mirage. This sorry state of affairs shows that Nigeria is moving in the wrong direction. The concept of the rule of law is not yet a reality in Nigeria.
It is on record that open disrespect to court rulings and other constitutional provisions made the Nigerian Bar Association in March 2006 to embark on a two-day nation-wide industrial action in order to protest any continuous executive lawlessness championed by President Obasanjo.
The same impunity/disregard for the rule of law continued unabated down to successive regimes. In 2015, Nigerians thought that the Messiah has finally come with the coming on board of President Muhammadu Buhari with his anti-corruption crusade, little have Nigerians realized that they were deceived. The position now is the more you look the less you see. Buhari’s government has even turned out to be the worst with the myriads of executive lawlessness and tyranny, fragrant disrespect to court orders, (Omoyele Sowore), suppression of civil liberty groups, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, unlawful detentions, unaccounted recovered loots from his anti-graft purported fight, unofficial foreign trips with tax payers' money and a long unexhausted list of impunities. It is the position of this article that except something drastic is done to remedy the already battered ambience of our legal and political situation, Nigeria may not easily get out of the woods. In other words, our recusant members of the Executive Arm of Government must begin to conduct themselves with decorum so as to show their respect to the rule of law. Moreover, all anti-people and draconian laws must be repealed (AMCON Act containing ouster clause, Social Media Bill for death penalty, etc). This means, Nigerian legislators should view any act of disrespect to the rule of law by the executives as an impeachable offence. In the same token, stiff penalties like dismissal from service should be meted out to the recalcitrant members of the armed forces and the police force. Anything short of the above prescriptions, one cannot argue convincingly that the rule of law is not a passive concept in the constitution of Nigeria. In the meantime, the concept of the rule of law has remained what it has been– a mere myth and never a reality.
Rule of Law in the present dispensation
President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in 2015 after emphasizing his track record of tackling corruption, and his pledge to stop public officials from looting the country’s treasury, after he rightly declared: “If we don’t kill corruption, this corruption will kill us.”
Buhari has backed his commitment by putting in place some important measures such as the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Whistle-Blowing Policy and the establishment of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, to combat the systemic theft of public resources and by extension, its pernicious effects on human rights and development.
The TSA, in particular, aims to pave the way for the timely payment and capturing of all revenues going into the government treasury, without the intermediation of multiple banking arrangements. However, real progress is yet to be made with respect to the prosecution of cases of grand corruption, lopsided anti-graft, Transparency in recovered loots etc.
High-ranking corrupt officials rarely end up in jail, as suspects continue to exploit the flaws in the justice system and the anti-corruption program’s legal and institutional mechanisms, to the point where individuals are profiting from their crimes. Part of the problem is the authority’s disdain for the rule of law, as illustrated by the tendency to pick and choose which court orders it complies with. This selective application of the rule of law implies an agenda to delegitimize the judiciary, and perhaps, inadvertently, render it incapable of contributing to the anti-corruption fight. The President has put the rather slow pace of his government’s fight against corruption down to the ‘lack of cooperation by the judiciary.’ As he puts it: “In fighting corruption, however, the government would adhere strictly by the rule of law. Not for the first time I am appealing to the judiciary to join the fight against corruption”. But while the judiciary may not as yet be up to speed in terms of accelerating the hearing of high-level corruption cases – consistent with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 – and adopting an activist-cum-public-interest approach to such cases, judges can do very little if the investigation and prosecution of grand corruption cases continue to be poorly handled.
Mr. Buhari cannot on the one hand blame the judiciary for ‘failing to work’ with his government in the fight against corruption, while on the other hand be disobeying judgments by the same judiciary.
Yet, obeying court orders is the bare minimum required of the President by his constitutional oath of office to: “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999)”, and by extension, defend the independence of the judiciary.
But the attitude of the government to court orders has fallen far short of this constitutional commitment. Court orders that are yet to be complied with include those obtained by human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana particularly the judgments by Nigerian courts ordering: The establishment of education banks to assist poor students to obtain loans to pursue tertiary education; the restoration of the People’s Bank of Nigeria to give loans without collateral to underprivileged citizens, and more recently, the more than a year detention and reluctant release of the Indigenous People of Biafra’s (IPOB) leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kalu, Islamic Movement of Nigeria leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, from unlawful detention, and yet the unlawful and continuous detention of Owoyele Sowore, former Presidential aspirant and online publisher of Sahara Reporters Newspaper, an online news platform, despite the court order granting him bail.
Other high-profile judgments the authorities are refusing to obey include at least three judgments obtained by the anti-corruption group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP). The first is the judgment by Jus tice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari ordering the government to tell Nigerians about the stolen asset it allegedly recovered, with details of the amounts recovered. The second judgment, by Justice Mohammed Idris, ordered the government to publish details on the spending of stolen funds recovered by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999, while the third judgment, by the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, ordered the Nigerian authorities to provide free and quality education to all Nigerian children without discrimination.
Disobedience of Court orders is inconsistent and incompatible with any definition of the rule of law. It’s very difficult for any country to successfully combat corruption if its government doesn’t obey court orders. If government doesn’t obey court orders, citizens are unlikely to do so. Disobedience of court orders implies the executive can do what it likes.
The government has also claimed that obeying judges’ decisions would require an assessment of ‘national security’ implications and potential to spark crisis. However, this position is the exact opposite of the rule of law. The rule of law implies the supremacy of the law as opposed to arbitrariness by government, or the whims and fancies of its officials. This means that it is the responsibility of every law-abiding government to obey decisions of lawfully constituted courts, including those the authorities may dislike.
The government can disagree with court orders, but if it has issues with any of these orders, it ought to use all available means of appealing them rather than refusing to obey them. Deliberate disobedience of judges’ decisions would, ultimately, shatter citizens’ confidence in judges’ ability to champion the rule of law and of course scare away foreign investors, because no foreign national will deem it apposite to invest in a lawless and unsecured environment.
CHAPTER 2 OF 1999 CONSTITUTION
The provisions of Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution seek to set up the template for economic prosperity, and if followed to the letter, Nigeria will get it right, especially in the areas of distribution of wealth, free education, affordable health care and social justice for all.
From unlawful imprisonment to outright refusal to obey court directives, below are some of the instances where the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has erred.
Nnamdi Okwu Kanu
Nnamdi Okwu Kanu is a British-Nigerian political activist. He is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). IPOB is agitating for the "Independence and Restoration of the defunct state of Biafra". Nnamdi Kanu is the director of a UK registered radio station named Radio Biafra. Nnamdi Kanu was arrested on treason charges in Lagos Nigeria on 14 October 2015 and was detained for more than a year, despite various court orders that ruled for his release.
Omoyele Sowore, a former presidential candidate and publisher of Sahara Reporters, an online news platform was on August 3, 2019 arrested by the DSS in Lagos and transferred to Abuja.
The DSS obtained an ex parte order to keep Sowore for 45 days. Barely 24 hours to the expiration of the 45 days detention order, the Attorney-General of the Federation’s office filed charges of treasonable felony, cybercrime offences and money laundering against him before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana applied for his bail pending his arraignment. Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the federal high court, Abuja granted the prayer. Sowore has since filed a case of contempt against the DSS boss, Yusuf Bichi, for failing to comply with the court order granting him bail.
On December 2, 2016, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the federal high court in Abuja ordered the release of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat from the custody of the Department of State Services.
As of the time of that ruling, El-Zakzaky and his wife had been in DSS’ custody since December 2015 following an altercation between members of the Nigerian Army and the IMN in Zaria, Kaduna State.
Aside the order of the court to release them, the court also ordered that the DSS should pay the couple the sum of N50m as compensation.
This court order was disobeyed.
On August 5, Justice Darius Khobo of Kaduna State High Court, granted El-Zakzaky, leave to seek medical attention in New Delhi, India.
The couple left for India and within a week were back in the country without receiving medical attention.
El-Zakzaky and wife are back in the DSS custody as of the time of filing this report. See Premium Times, June 11, 2017 by Evelyn Okakwu
The IMN leader is standing trial in another court over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly and disruption of the public peace among other charges.
Former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki is also one of the persons, who is still in custody, despite several courts ordering his release.
On Monday, July 2, 2018, the Federal High Court in Abuja granted bail to Dasuki from the custody of the DSS where he had been detained for two and a half years as of that time.
Delivering judgment in the suit filed by the ex-NSA in March 2019, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu ruled that his detention since December 29, 2015, amounted to a violation of his right to liberty. Ojukwu ruled that the Federal Government’s contention that Dasuki was being kept in custody on the grounds of his alleged threat to national security and his alleged ongoing investigation for money laundering did not warrant “abrogating his right”.
The judge also said that should the DSS have any further reason to interrogate him, the security agency could only invite and interview him between the hours of 9am and 6pm on working days.
Dasuki was picked up by operatives of the State Security Service in December 2015. He was accused of illegal possession of firearms and diversion of $2.1 billion from the arms deal contract.
The Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice on October 4, 2016, ordered his release from the illegal custody; a judgement which the DSS had not obeyed.
Court order on debt limit
Another judgment, which the Federal Government may have disobeyed was the one made by the Federal High Court in Abuja directing the Federal Government to set the overall limits for the “amounts of consolidated debts” of the nation’s federal, state and local governments.
Justice Kolawole gave the judgment on February 20, 2018, in a suit filed by the Centre for Social Justice.
Justice Kolawole said it was mandatory for the government to set the debt limits as provided by section 42(1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.
He specifically ordered the Federal Government to set the debt limits, which should be approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives within 90 days of the judgment.
The judgment has also yet to be obeyed.
In March 2016, Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Abuja ordered the federal government to publish details on the spending of recovered stolen funds by successive governments since 1999. This order has not been obeyed till date.
Navy Captain Dada Labinjo
Navy Captain Dada Labinjo is allegedly being detained in the underground detention facility of the Defence Intelligence Agency in Abuja since September 12, 2018.
His lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, said though he obtained an order of the Federal High Court for his release, Labinjo has not been released. Falana, who said this in an August 15, 2019, letter to the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, said Labinjo was just one of 67 persons, including foreigners, being illegally detained without trial by the navy.
Incessant Secret/ Unofficial Fly-Around With Tax Payers/ Nigerians’ Money Unaccounted For.
“President Muhammadu Buhari will on Saturday, November 2, 2019, proceed to the United Kingdom on a private visit. He is expected to return to Nigeria on November 17, 2019,” said Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina in a statement.
There has been no official announcement on what the private visit entails. Similar trips in the past, however, had stirred animated discussions about the state of the president’s health.
On June 6, 2016, Buhari left Nigeria for his first medical vacation. He took a 10-day trip to London to treat an ear infection and extended the mission by three days for more rest. He returned on June 19, 2016. On January 19, 2017, he again travelled to the U.K. on medical leave and returned March 10 after spending 51 days out of the country. Forty days after (May 8, 2017), Buhari travelled to the U.K. yet again for medical attention and remained there till August 19, 2017.
Even if the President wants to go on a private visit, it should be during his holiday. Anything outside that, means it is an official travel, no matter whose ox is death. And the cost is on the Nigerian state. For this reason the presidency owe the Nigerian people the duty to inform them about where and why his is travelling. Any servant owes his master the duty of accountability. In this context, Nigeria as a people is the Master; and who ever swore an oath of office is the Servant.
No foreign leader comes to Nigeria for checkup or holiday. “Honesty” is said to be the best policy but why can’t our government not be forthright about the man who symbolizes our nation? Anyone can be sick but it sparks off a furious debacle anytime the president travels for undisclosed purposes.
Why can’t the government equip our hospitals so that neither the president nor his wife will be seeking medical attention abroad? As it is today, the first family has by conduct shown that we do not have proper medical facilities in Nigeria.
The executive director of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Mr. Ibuchukwu Ezike, faulted the secrecy surrounding the visit. “I have continued to ask questions on the kind of visit that should take this length of time. If he is sick, they should tell us, and if he is sick, why would he need to travel abroad? Why not stay here and be treated? Thus, he will understand the challenges faced by the health sector” It is unfortunate.
“The Federal Government led by President Buhari has so much embarked on wasteful overseas trips that have not added value to national growth. The cost of these journeys is enormous. No country can invest in Nigeria’s economy because of the instability and security challenges. Instead of our president to stabilize the economy and face the security challenges, he is busy travelling abroad always. Things are not done this way,” Sarki said.
Nigerians have a right to know why Buhari is visiting London. “It is a common problem with public officers in Nigeria to conceal their state of health. I, therefore, put the challenge to the media to investigate what the president is travelling to London for, if the government refuses to disclose it.”- The national publicity secretary of the Middle Belt Leaders Forum, Dr. Dogo Isuwa, published by premiun Times on June 11, 2017.
A chieftain of Afenifere, Dr. Femi Okurounmu, regretted
“It is particularly worrisome that taxpayers’ money is being spent to attend to the state of health of a president whose ailment is never disclosed.”- The national secretary, Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr. Kunle Olajide complained.
Meanwhile, a consultant surgeon and the Medical director of Optimal Specialist Hospital, Surulere Lagos, Dr. Ugochukwu Chukwunenye, yesterday explained some of the risks associated with long-distance flights.
“In the elderly, because there is already a delicate balance of their various vital systems, the deleterious effects of long-distance flying are more pronounced and become worse if the long-distance flying is frequent. The effects of long-distance flying are worsened if there are pre-existing illnesses like leg ulcers, hearing or memory impairment, chronic lung or cardiac diseases.” See Premium Times News paper published June11,2017
N/B: All of the above quoted references shows that Nigerians are complaining, and need to be accounted for on what is their right.
In any case, the surest way for any government to promote and improve national security, National Economy, and confidence of the citizens is to uphold the rule of law, by among others complying with court orders.
For poverty to be reduced, the private sector must flourish and generate employment. The rule of law matters very much in this context.
A good investment climate means that private-sector companies, ranging from smallscale enterprises to multinational corporations, have incentives to invest. The term investment climate refers to the entire political, legal, economic and institutional environment that has a bearing on enterprises’ opportunities and risks. Investors must assess these matters diligently, and incalculable risks are likely to scare them off.
The protection of ownership rights is crucial. Land ownership, for example, must be clear and safe. Contract enforcement is important, and low levels of corruption and crime are appreciated. Investors also want to be sure that competitors do not gain advantages due to personal contacts of monetary favours. When a business partner does not fulfil contract obligations, moreover, they need the courts to enforce that contract.
Accordingly, national laws have a bearing on investment decisions, but law enforcement matters just as much. However, the quality of both legislation and the court system diverge considerably from country to country. The interaction of the judicial, legislative and administrative branches of government is a complex affair. Generally speaking, there are always gaps between black letter law and everyday life. In the eyes of investors, non-transparent, overly complex or ambiguous legislation means greater risks.
In private contracts, partners can agree which country’s law will apply. They are not forced to simply rely on the law of the location where an investment takes place. German courts may thus get jurisdiction over investments in Africa. If an investor has the impression that local laws and local law-enforcement do not add up to legal certainty, he or she may still agree to investing if another country’s courts get the say should disputes arise.
The more trust the legal environment inspires, the more probable it becomes that promising investment ideas lead to tangible action. The rule of law makes it easier to assess – and manage – risks. All private sector companies, whether foreign or domestic, appreciate legal certainty. However, foreign investors will always ponder whether they will be treated fairly.
Foreign direct investments drive national economic development. They lead to additional employment and often increase the supply of goods on consumer markets, expanding people’s choices. In developing countries, moreover, foreign investors are prone to introducing advanced technology, so staff gets an opportunity to acquire additional skills. In the long run, tax revenues are likely to increase.
If, by contrast, governance does not inspire trust, investments become less likely. Domestic companies too are less likely to invest. On the other hand, their business model may rely on being protected from foreign competition, in which case they may charge higher prices and have less reason to worry that competent staff might be poached by other companies that offer better pay.
It is well known, moreover, that companies tend to rely on contacts and state patronage in countries where the rule of law is weak. In extreme cases, such scenarios result in individual companies enjoying monopolies in specific sectors. While those companies may obviously thrive, the impacts on the labour force and consumers are harmful.
The overall legal environment matters, and business-specific rules – including those on competition – are particularly relevant. The interaction of all branches of government should be geared to ruling out unfair competition or unfairly restricting competition. Investors pay close attention to governance in these matters.
It is generally accepted that the quality of institutions has a positive impact both on income levels and on income distribution. It is no coincidence, that the rule of law is correlated with a nation’s prosperity. Economic research has shown that the inclination to invest increases as legal certainty improves. An independent and impartial judiciary must be fully operational. At the same time, every state agency should ensure equal opportunities. They all must respect the rights of every citizen and every company without being influenced by corruption.
During the Hamburg Summit in 2017, the G20 adopted the “Compact with Africa”. This initiative was proposed by Germany, and it is geared to improving the investment climate at nation-state levels with an eye to facilitating business activity. For obvious reasons, national governments are responsible for creating and enforcing an appropriate legal framework. Donor governments, however, are prepared to give advice and support. The reason is that, in the long run, enhanced legal certainty will lead to more investments, more jobs and sustainable growth.
We have carefully discussed the untrammeled trespassing of the rule of law and, by extension, the judicial process by Nigerian leaders. We have equally viewed this as a serious issue since no nation that wants to be strategically important in the comity of nations would ever toy with some serious constitutional provisions like the rule of law.
Therefore, this essay is a wake-up call for all and sundry to rise to the challenge of restoring dignity to the Nigerian nation by resisting any attempt to abuse the rule of law. We are saying this because the rule of law is one concept that is being put in place by enlightened societies for the purposes of peaceful coexistence and the conduciveness of every citizen, irrespective of his or her social, religious, military or political standing. Let us conclude this work by agreeing that it is only when the rule of law becomes a reality, that individual citizens would enjoy personal liberty and equal treatment by the law, in an atmosphere of brotherhood. But it is still a truism that this kind of atmosphere is highly fictitious in Nigeria, at least for now.
•PHOTO: Eminent lawyer and activist Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, SAN, delivering his Keynote Address the 7th News Express Anniversary Lecture . . . on Thursday, November 14, 2019, at the Main Hall of Ikeja Sheraton Hotel, Lagos
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