In our 2014 World Human Rights Anniversary lecture titled: “Africa: A Blessed Continent Ruined By Dictatorship & Tyranny” (www.elombah.com/index.php/articles-mainmenu/28451-africa-a-blessed-continent-ruined-by-dictatorship-tyranny), we had observed that out of 30 dictatorial and tyrannical governments on African Continent, at least 25 of them are operated under “presidential dictatorship”. By presidential dictatorship, we mean a civilian government usually headed by a member of a dominant primordial tribe, which operates without strict recourse to democratic convention and constitutional provisions, but with recourse to policies and actions inimical to civil liberties, rule of law and collective or general public interest. It operator settles at all times for those policies and actions that benefit his or her primordial tribe and self. As a dictator, he or she operates above the law and constitutional norms. Dictatorship in the world over has been identified as the chief trigger of armed conflicts and failed State.
It is totally correct to say that Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari symbolizes the immortal question of former President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. President Nyerere had in 1994 asked the following: “Why is it that when Europeans and North Americans are busy finding their routes to the Moon, Africans are busy finding theirs back to the cave? “ It is also correct to observe and say that Nigeria has returned to presidential dictatorship under retired Gen Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency. Most policies and actions of Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari as the new President of Nigeria in the last 50 days clearly attest to this fact.
Apart from all his appointments so far, which are dictatorial, undemocratic and unconstitutional, he is also speedily turning the coercive instruments of the State to “instruments of terror”. Already, the Department of the State Security Service commonly called “the SSS” or secret police is returned to its inglorious Abacha and military epoch, when its operatives not only terrorized the common citizens and dissenting voices, but were also further mentored on all sorts of “perfect killing strategies” in some “deadly and closed States” like North Korea, Libya, Syria, Cuba and (former) Soviet Union. The former dreaded secret police, which is being re-dreaded by President Muhammadu Buhari; was also believed to have been responsible for “State terrorism” that included State sponsored bomb blasts across the country in which the opponents of the Abacha’s maximum military regime including pro-democracy groups and activists were officially and falsely accused and witch-hunted.
Till date, it is commonly believed in many social quarters in the country including the rights based Civil Society Community that the history of bombing and “perfect killings” (i.e. letter bomb, substance infusion, lethal injection and stage-managed fatal accidents) cannot be complete in Nigeria leaving out some dreaded operatives of the SSS. As recently as September 2005, a deep question mark still trailed the sudden and “mysterious” death of Nigeria’s foremost rights activist and then Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Comrade Chima Ubani along Bauchi-Maiduguri Road in Maiduguri, Borno State, Northeast Nigeria ( http://saharareporters.com/2007/08/02/chima-ubani-killed). Comrade Ubani’s death is still suspected to have been linked to sabotage via the State and its secret police.
Other than fears of Nigerians over the possible return of the SSS by President Muhammadu Buhari to its inglorious epoch, we have also observed the gradual graduation of the Nigeria Police Force under Mr. Solomon Arase into a State police terror force. Though Mr. Solomon Arase is one of the brightest and most lettered NPF heads in recent times, but it appears his plum job is on the line except “he does that, which dictatorially impresses his Commander-in-Chief”; which is why his NPF now responds to any pro APC or Buhari issue with uttermost dispatch no matter how flimsy or infantile it is in the eyes of the law. One of such needless responses is the NPF’s recent criminal invitation to the duly elected Deputy Senate President, Barr Ikechukwu Ekweremmadu. Rather than putting its policing house in order so as to factor it into President Muhammadu Buhari’s “anti corruption stance” (if any), particularly by tackling head on corruption arising from roadblock extortion and pretrial bail fees; Mr. Solomon Arase’s headship of the NPF appears to have chosen to impress their “Commander-in-Chief” dictatorially.
Without prejudice to any genuine effort at taming corruption and corrupt practices in Nigeria, we are totally opposed to use of “anti corruption” mantra to witch-hunt or terrorize any citizen irrespective of his or her political and tribal divides. In the case of the Presidency oiled ordeal of the immediate past National Security Adviser, Retired Col Sambo Dasuki, for instance, laying siege on his residence and disruption of his fundamental rights to freedoms of Religion, Conscience & Thought (Section 38) and Movement (Section 41) as well as his right to Personal Liberty (Section 35); amounts to “State terrorism”. This is more so when he has not been indicted over an investigation into a corrupt practice or a felonious offence of capital magnitude proportionate to amount of State force deployed in his residence.
For the records, there are about 22 anti corruption legal instruments or agencies in Nigeria cutting across Immigration and Custom Services, the Nigeria Police Force, the Armed Forces, as well as the EFCC and the ICPC. There are also numerous civil oversights anti corruption bodies like those of the National Assembly and the National Judicial Council. If the Buhari Presidency is in possession of classified documents linking Col Sambo Dasuki to any corrupt practice, it should have de-classified them and sent them to any (criminal) anti corruption agency of its choice, which will swing into action within the ambit of our existing laws bearing in mind the indictee’s fundamental human rights. Our Constitution at all times forbids “trial by ordeal”, which includes trial by media or on the pages of newspaper. Most of the country’s media particularly its print and electronic are owned by captains of corruption in Nigeria, leading to their watery and half-baked reports as well as their conversion into “political vendetta and information warfare”. They have long lost their baptismal name of “conscience of the masses”.
By Section 36 (8) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, “No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed”. It is correct to conclude that in the case of presidential siege on Col Dasuki’s residence, President Muhammadu Buhari has magisterially usurped the rule of law by being a police officer, a police station, a criminal investigator, a prosecutor, a trial judge, a sentencing judge, and a prison warder.
He has also “tried a Nigerian citizen of innocent record by ordeal”, by failing to mention till this moment, the offence known to Nigeria’s body of criminal laws, which Col Sambo Dasuki has committed, warranting his “prisoner-of-war treatment” by the Presidency. President Buhari’s anti democratic and pro dictatorship dispositions are also oiled by the Nigerian media of Southwest extraction particularly the print and electronic. They aid and abet the President’s trial by ordeal criminal justice administration and canonize all his anti democratic and unconstitutional policies and actions.
In all, Nigeria is fully back to presidential dictatorship. As obtained in civilian dictatorial regime in which its operator operates above the law, President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to exhibit the character of incorrigibility. Despite widespread outcries trailing the sectional and ethno-religious coloration of his recent political appointments and their unconstitutionality, he has continued defiantly with such vicious exercise with his latest unceremonious retirement of the Commandant General of the Nigerian Security & Civil Defense Force, Dr. Ade Abolurin and his replacement with Alhaji Abdullahi Gana Mohammed from northern State of Niger. It is shocking and saddening that in all the appointments made so far, particularly in top securitization management reconstitution, the Igbo Nation, which is the second, if not the most populated tribe in Nigeria is totally excluded with impunity.
Instead, he has resorted, uncontrollably, to the suppression of the right to self determination, being exercised non- violently by the Race using nonviolent and globally approved means including media opinions and radio messages. The right to self determination and the rights of the indigenous people are not only recognized by the UN and the AU, but they are also contained in the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights of 1981, which Nigeria ratified and domesticated in accordance with Section 12 of her Constitution of 1999.
Just the way and manner Retired Gen Muhammadu Buhari, who now holds forth as Nigeria’s civilian President; summarily dismantled all democratic structures in the night of December 1983 in a military coup he led; he has extended same to headships of all agencies and parastatals of the Federal Government of Nigeria without recourse to merit as well as the spirit and letters of the Constitution. Till date, he has not appointed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) as well as cabinet or presidential ministers. Some heads of statutory federal bodies he appointed are still in “acting capacities” despite the fact that there is a functional Senate in the Federation and its leadership. This is a total application of nepotism and favoritism as well as dictatorship; condemned and prohibited by the Constitution. It is also expressly impeachable!
As for the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), we shall not rest on our oars so long as bad governance and leadership remain in Nigeria or any part thereof. We have also resolved to send in the next one week a copy of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, with its last amendment in 2011 to President Muhammadu Buhari as a Sallah Gift. This is because it is possible that the President does not have and read the 1999 Constitution, leading to his recent basketful of Constitutional blunders in office so far. Also, the copy with which he was sworn in on 29th May 2015 must have been taken back immediately by the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor-Nwonu (Mrs.), Esq.
Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Esq.
Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program