A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana said President Muhammadu Buhari had turned Nigeria into a banana republic, citing prevailing cases of banditry, insurgency and violence that beclouded the country.
Falana, a SAN, added that Buhari’s civilian administration was apparently worse than the
military rule he presided over between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985. He expressed grave concern about the APC government in a paper he delivered at a roundtable discussion the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism and the British Council organised to the 2019 World Press Freedom Day in Abuja on Friday.
At the public forum attended by a wide range of political leaders, diplomats and professionals, Falana lamented that the country’s senior public officers had substituted the rule of law for “the rule of the rulers,” thereby asking the Nigerian masses “to take their destiny in their own hands.”
Specifically, the human rights lawyer cited Buhari’s records of respecting the rule of law, which according to him, had worsened since his heydays as a military dictator.
In a comprehensive analysis of the two administration, Falana said the irony of such official impunity “is that whereas the Buhari military junta released detainees from custody on the orders of the courts.”
He decried worsening cases of violence, banditry and insurgency, which he said, had become prevalent since the president returned to power in 2015.
He, therefore, concluded that under the the Buhari administration, Nigeria had become a banana republic, saying the president’s human rights record “is worse than when Buhari was a military dictator.”
He equally lamented Buhari’s poor record of obeying the rule of law, wondering that president claimed to be a converted democrat, though the claim had been disputed by the refusal of his administration to comply with the orders made by several courts for the release of a number of citizens from unlawful custody.
Apart from treating the orders of the courts with contempt, Falana said Buhari, currently the Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), had ignored the orders of the Community Court of Justice with respect to the restoration of the civil liberties of Nigerian citizens.
He faulted Buhari and his Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, saying the contemptuous act of the administration “has been defended by the president who has insisted that national security should take precedence over the rule of law.
“As if that is not enough, the human rights lawyer faulted the decision of the justice minister “to publicly defended the contemptuous acts of the federal government.”
He equally lamented that those in charge of running the federation are working against the progress of the nation and Nigerians, noting that by deliberately ignoring the rule of law, the Buhari administration was promoting and perpetuating corruption.
According to him, this means that people in government, and particularly those in the executive arm, can abuse their powers and positions to promote their own interests or those of their friends and allies at the expense of public interest, through arbitrary acts and corruption, or through inconsistent application of laws.
Falana cited the case of Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign, which he argued, had been discredited through the selective prosecution of corrupt elements in the society.
Worse still, he explained that corrupt members of the Federal Executive Council “are currently using the police and anti-graft agencies to settle scores with corrupt opposition figures.
“It thus seems that politicians and associates of those close to the seat of power in Abuja are protected, despite strong evidence of corruption and money laundering against them. Such abuse of the rule of law is subversive of law and order in a democratic society.
“Given these types of examples on the part of the leadership and the poor working conditions of most government workers, it is not surprising that civil servants across the ranks have turned to petty corruption, often simply to survive.
“The net impact of this systemic corruption is a serious erosion of the rule of law, by a government that is supposedly committed to good governance, transparency, accountability and anti-corruption.”