Nige­ria and the rule of law

The Punch - - EDITORIAL - John Kokome La­gos kokome­[email protected]­hoo.com

De­cem­ber 24 ev­ery year is al­ways looked up to be­cause of its sym­bolic rep­re­sen­ta­tion, be­ing the eve of christ­mas to her­ald the birth of Je­sus christ by chris­tians all over the World. How­ever, Tues­day, De­cem­ber 24, 2019 will en­ter into the po­lit­i­cal his­tory book in Nige­ria as the day the rule of law tri­umphed over the rule of man. The im­me­di­ate re­lease of col. Sambo Da­suki (retd.) and ac­tivist and pub­lisher of the Sa­harareport­ers, Omoyele Sowore, will no doubt go down in his­tory as one event that Nige­ri­ans will not for­get in a hurry.

It is in­deed, a big vic­tory for democ­racy and the re­silient spirit of the Nige­rian peo­ple, who have con­sis­tently kicked against the high-hand­ed­ness of the regime of Pres­i­dent, ma­jor Gen­eral muham­mudu buhari (retd.) and have also con­demned the inces­sant dis­re­gard to sev­eral court or­ders across the land and even at the sub-re­gional level for the re­lease of po­lit­i­cal de­tainees granted bail. The law is no re­specter of any­one; no mat­ter how big or pow­er­ful you may think you are, the law is above all and must be re­spected by all. The ju­di­ciary has fur­ther proved that in­deed it is the hope of the com­mon man.

It is a wel­come de­vel­op­ment that the ac­cused per­sons have been re­leased from de­ten­tion, but that does not mean they have been ab­solved of any wrong­do­ing.

How­ever, the court would make a pro­nounce­ment on the mat­ters be­fore it at the right time. The ac­tion of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to yield to the calls from var­i­ous quar­ters, on the need to obey stand­ing court or­ders, is worth com­mend­ing, though very be­lated. In as much as we want to rid our so­ci­ety of cor­rup­tion, the fight must be holis­tic in ap­proach and ci­vil­ity should be ap­plied in this fight.

Ours is a so­ci­ety of hu­mans with laws to guide our ac­tions and not a jun­gle, where law­less­ness holds sway with no law to guide them. In Nige­ria to­day, there are more than enough laws al­ready in place to guide us as a peo­ple, but the great­est chal­lenge in im­ple­ment­ing them are the cus­to­di­ans of the laws who have be­come an al­ba­tross of some sorts. Over the years, our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers have been the great­est vi­o­la­tors of the laws, they were elected to pro­tect and ju­di­ciously im­ple­ment with­out fear or favour.

Go­ing for­ward, it is hoped that our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers would learn from the ugly in­ci­dent of the re­cent past, where vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights and the fla­grant dis­obe­di­ence of court or­ders be­came the or­der of the day, cre­at­ing a breed­ing ground for anar­chy.

The fa­mous poet W.b. Yeats al­luded in his poem, The Sec­ond Com­ing: Turn­ing and turn­ing in the widen­ing gyre, the fal­con can­not hear the fa­col­ner; Things fall apart; the cen­tre can­not hold mere anar­chy loose upon the world…” This was also re-echoed in the late Prof. chinua Achebe’s fa­mous novel, “Thing Fall Apart”. We don’t need a sooth­sayer to tell us Nige­ria is cur­rently at its low­est ebb, in terms of demo­cratic prin­ci­ples, prac­tice and ex­pe­ri­ence. We are in­deed sit­ting on a keg of gun pow­der, wait­ing to ex­plode ex­cept some­thing is done ur­gently to stem the tide of in­jus­tice per­vad­ing the land.

The black race is look­ing up to Nige­ria to show lead­er­ship and oth­ers would fol­low suit. Un­for­tu­nately, we have not lived up to this ex­pec­ta­tion let alone show lead­er­ship.

Nei­ther Da­suki nor Sowore is the win­ner but democ­racy, which is en­trenched in the rule of law. There are po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic gains that would ac­crue to us as a na­tion if the rule of law is al­lowed to thrive. It will boost in­vestors’ con­fi­dence in the coun­try and earn us our due re­spect among the comity of na­tions. Our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers must not al­low our good­will to be frit­tered away.

Let us be­gin the year 2020 with a re­newed hope that the mis­takes of yesterday would not be re­peated to­mor­row and see how Nige­ria and Nige­ri­ans will flour­ish in a mat­ter of time.

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