There is no disputing the fact that Nigeria has gradually slid into dictatorship with the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, 2015. The first sign of dictatorial tendency of the Buhari led federal government was the arrest of the erstwhile National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) who was accused of diverting $2.1b budgeted for the purchase of arms to confront the marauding Boko Haram insurgents. Early this year, Buhari accused the judiciary of being the albatross against his anti-corruption war yet he disobeys courts’ pronouncements. In December, 2015, an Abuja High Court granted the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) bail, yet Buhari refused to release him.
In his first media chat in January this year, commenting on Sambo Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu, President Buhari said, “If you see the atrocities these people committed against this country, we can’t allow them to jump bail. What of the over two million people displaced, most of them orphans whose fathers have been killed? We cannot allow that.” Recently, the Court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), declared the arrest and continuous detention of Dasuki unlawful and arbitrary. The ECOWAS Court also instructed the Nigerian Government to pay the sum of $15 million as damages to Dasuki. The Nigerian Government has not complied with this directive till date.
If Buhari as the first citizen of the country doesn’t obey the courts, who does he expect to obey the courts? How can we have courageous and robust courts if everybody disobeys the courts? By disobeying the directives of the Abuja High Court and the Court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to release Dasuki on bail, Buhari has arrogated to himself supremacy and omnipotence over the people of ECOWAS! By this decision Buhari has deliberately turned himself to a complainant, court and judge in this matter! The disobedience to court pronouncements is an infringement on the principle of separation of power among the three arms of government as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution! Above all, the same Buhari has sought the cooperation of ECOWAS to fight the Boko Haram insurgents!
The second taste of the tyrannical leadership of Buhari was the invasion on September 3, 2015 of the official residence of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Emmanuel Udom by the operatives of the State Security Service. The SSS claimed there were arms and stacks of money in the government house! Again, on March 5, 2016, the operatives of the Department of State Security invaded the Ekiti State House Assembly and forcefully took away four legislators to unknown location. Till date, no reason was adduced for the invasion!
However, the mother of all tyrannous acts was displayed in the wee hours of Saturday October 8, 2016 when the operatives of the Department of State Security invaded the homes of seven Judges in a brutish manner likened to the Nazi gestapo! Since the needless display of power by the DSS, there have been avalanches of commentaries written or verbalized either in support or in condemnation of the operatives. But the worry of this writer and that of many Nigerians is this, do we fight corruption with corruption? The answer to this germane question is emphatic NO! Some uninformed Nigerians say due process or rule of law shouldn’t be observed in arresting or prosecuting those accused of corruption because those accused of corruption didn’t observe due process or rule of law when they were perpetrating their corrupt practices. It is necessary that the federal government observes rule of law in prosecuting corrupt persons because the laws of the land presume every accused person innocent until convicted by a competent court of law. Again, two wrongs can never make a right! Applying corrupt means to fight corruption is corruption; it is a worse form of corruption!
It must be stated unambiguously that it is not the responsibility of the DSS to combat financial crimes. Their sole function is to ensure internal security. It is however the duty of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to fight financial crimes in the country!
It is necessary to state that we can’t have robust courts if our leaders don’t adhere to rule of law or obey the courts. Again, it must be stated that we can’t have a decent society when leaders don’t lead by example.