Nwabueze wants NJC revamped for effective discharge of functions
A renowned constitutional lawyer and elder statesman, Prof. Ben Nwabueze yesterday decried what he called the emasculation of constitutional democracy through the subversion of the safeguards enshrined in the constitution for the protection of individuals against the oppressive use of the organised coercive force at the disposal of the state.
Addressing newsmen in Lagos on the recent raids on the homes of seven judges over corruption allegations by the Department of State Services (DSS), the revered lawyer said constitutional democracy and state terrorism or a police state cannot co-exist.
According to him, the fight against corruption should not be done at the expense of our constitution or we create a monster called anarchy, which a greater problem.
The raid of the judges’ homes, he said, raises an issue of fundamental importance and concern, which does not appear to be sufficiently appreciated.
According to him, the issue raised is as to whether constitutional democracy and state terrorism or a police state can co-exist.
The revered lawyer , who wants the National Security Act expunged from the constitution for equipping the president with personal powers, said the president is already prejudiced with the judiciary and being a dictator by nature do not believe on the proper approach.
On the role of National Judicial Council (NJC) in tackling judicial corruption, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said the NJC is trying but has limited powers.
He stressed that the body needed to be revamped for effective discharge of the functions assigned to it by the constitution.
He said: “For twelve years since 2004 a regime of state terrorism has been foisted on us – in the name of a war against corruption.
“The lawless activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) created ostensibly to fight corruption were increasingly assuming terroristic proportions.
“Its armed men terrorise state after state – Bayelsa, Plateau, Jigawa, Benue – rendering the terrorised state a helpless captive.
“From time to time reports appear in the newspapers of state government offices being deserted and of commissioners and other functionaries fleeing in fear generated by the visit of an invading force of EFCC armed operatives, with some of these functionaries being arrested, taken away to Abuja or Lagos, and held in detention for long periods of time in EFCC insalubrious cells.
“The activities of the SSS, combined with those of the EFCC, portray Nigeria in the ugly image of a police state, replete with the pernicious instruments of repression that characterise such a state.
“The name SSS (changed to DSS because of adverse comments) in itself is entirely out of keeping, an anachronism, in a constitutional democracy, due to its association in the public mind with the barbarities of Hitlerism and of socialist/communist despotism. It created fear and a feeling of insecurity amongst the citizenry”.