SERAP tasks Buhari to prioritise Rule of Law in second term
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to make every day a ‘Rule of Law’ day, by ensuring that every segment of the government is rule-of-law compliant for fairness, justice and to leave a legacy of success in anti-corruption agenda, which has remained stuck in limbo.
SERAP is concerned about the poor compliant to ‘rule of law’ in the past four years, which was damaging to the government’s fight against corruption and the country at large.
In a letter signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare yesterday, the organisation said, “Making a public commitment to dedicate every day of your second term as a ‘Rule of Law’ day will help to ensure that decisions of our courts are fully obeyed, refocus, improve and reinforce the anti-corruption agenda. It will also serve as a reminder that no one has immunity from the law, not even the government.
“The deficits in the rule of law have been particularly notable in three areas: failure to obey decisions of Nigerian courts, failure to push for transparency in asset declarations by high-ranking public officials and failure to push for unexplained wealth orders against former presidents and former governors and other senior public officials suspected of living on proceeds of corruption and ‘dirty money’.”
The body urged Buhari to implement oft-expressed commitment to the rule of law by obeying decisions of Nigerian courts, promoting transparency in asset declarations by publishing widely details of assets, and encourage Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo to do the same, as well as all ministers.
“Nigeria’s democracy ought to have as its foundation respect for human rights and the rule of law. Treating the decisions of Nigerian courts as not binding is antithetical to any contemporary notion of the rule of law and democracy, and clearly counter-productive to the fight against corruption.
“Ignoring or refusing to obey decisions of our courts is implicitly rendering the judiciary powerless to enforce constitutional and legal rights, violating separation of powers, undermining the rule of law, and ultimately, raising serious question marks on the government’s commitment to fight grand corruption,” SERAP stated.
SERAP particularly pointed that high-profile judgments on his government was refusing to obey two judgments obtained by SERAP, stating, “The first is the judgment by Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari ordering the government to tell Nigerians about the stolen asset it allegedly recovered, with details of the amounts recovered. The second judgment, by Justice Mohammed Idris, ordered the government to publish details on the spending of stolen funds recovered by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999.”
“Another court order that is yet to be complied with is the order for the release of Islamic Movement of Nigeria leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, from unlawful detention, obtained by human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana.”