The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has said the federal government persistently assaulted the rule of law through “executive misbehaviour and high-handedness” in 2019.
Paul Usoro, NBA president, said this in his New Year’s message saying peace and justice cannot reign in the country if the government continues to pay lip service to the rule of law.
“In 2019, rule of law in Nigeria was persistently assaulted and lay prostrate, thanks mostly to executive misbehaviours and high-handedness/ 2019 marked the year that removal of public officers through nebulous and reprehensible ex parte orders of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) gradually became the norm in our national life.
“It started with the removal of Justice Walter Onnoghen through a purported CCT ex parte order in the first quarter of 2019 and, towards the end of the year, this abnormality was repeated with the removal from office of the acting Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission, Lady Azuka Azinge, through a questionable ex parte order” he said.
The NBA president also condemned the invasion of the court by agents of the Department of State Services (DSS) in the case of Omoyele Sowore, saying “it was a horrifying assault on the rule of law and the sacred sanctum of our courts and judicial processes”.
“It was somewhat reassuring that, in the dying days of 2019 and at the instance of the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, (SAN) both Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki were finally released from confinement by the DSS, after being detained for prolonged periods against the orders of courts.”
“It is our hope that, in 2020, we would build on this new resolve by government and ensure that court orders are obeyed across board by our state officials and agencies.”
“We must remind our leaders of the pledges that they made when they courted us in 2019 for our votes. We must demand those rights that are guaranteed to us in our Constitution and in the social contract with elected officials.”
Usoro also said in 2020, the NBA will continue to speak for Nigerians. “We will persist in holding governments to account, particularly as it relates to the promotion and protection of the rule of law and the delivery of democracy dividends to our people,” he said.