Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has tackled President Muhammadu Buhari for “obeying court orders when he was a military head of state but doing the opposite in a democratic government”.
Speaking at a public lecture to mark the 30th anniversary of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), the senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said he is writing the attorney-general of Nigeria to express his worry over how court orders are being disobeyed by the federal government.
Buhari served as military head of state from December 1983 until August 1985 when the regime of Ibrahim Babangida toppled his government.
“I just remember this morning trying to write a letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation and I find, very painfully, that whereas the Buhari/Idiagbon regime complied with all court orders for the release of those who were held illegally under the state security detention of persons Decree No 2 of 1984, we cannot say the same today under a democratic government,” Falana said.
“If you get a copy of Gani Fawehinmi’s book on Nigerian law on habeas corpus, all the judgments of our courts during the military dictatorship of Gowon up to the Buhari/Idiagbon regime, all the cases are documented in that book; not on a single occasion did the military regimes detain anybody who had been ordered to be released by the court. They could manipulate; they could filibuster, but ultimately they got everybody released.”
Falana, however, noted that much progress has been made in the struggle for the respect of human rights in the country, saying “thirty years ago, it would have been impossible to assemble to discuss human rights in our country”.
“Notwithstanding that we are currently having what you might call rickety democracy, there are gains, all the struggles of over 30 years, that we must celebrate today,” he said.