A Cry For Sanity And Decorum In Our Limited Government
Our beloved country is terribly crying for and is in need of sanity and decorum in political leadership now more than any other era if we must attain our pursuit for greater greatness else we will suffer the terrible consequences later. Disintegration and or anarchy will not favour anyone no matter a person’s status, religion or ethnicity. Hunger or poverty knows no colour, religion or ethnicity.
It is true that no reasonable gentleman, leader and democrat would want to recklessly trouble the Judiciary in any democratic leadership though the question remains on whether most of our current politicians are deeply reasonable to the extent of possessing gentlemanly credentials for reasonable democrats in our dying era. Some leaders are very much at home and happy to forment troubles perhaps being obviously jittery about losing a given election. Students in some tertiary institutions I have observed in the past who indeed were not serious with their studies and academic expectations. Hence they cause or to forment troubles in the campuses. Why? Most of them were somehow afraid of facing their examinations squarely. Hence they formed groups or pressure groups to engage in needless protests or cultic or criminal activities so that such examinations could be either rescheduled or cancelled abnitio. Meanwhile the most serious and studious students who must have done their thorough studies would then become victims or scape goats for the carefree addicted and cultic elements despite the harsh postures of the law against cultism. Carefree or redundant lecturers also do benefit from such impasse. Like Father; like son?
No organ of Government is better or superior to the other hence the separation of power irrespective of whether this separation is watertight or porous. Politics according to Ernest Ben (1875-1954) “is the art of looking for trouble and finding whether it exists or not” This indeed is a characterization that fits into Nigeria’s political class more so such that see elections as a “do or die” affair.
Politics is about and must be based on conviction. In most cases Governors or Presidents choose their Deputies or Vice Presidents based on ethno-religious considerations in our present century yet these may not have succeeded in ushering in the needed peace in our country. Politics of civilianized military and militarized civilian have critically not helped matters in the past nineteen years of our new democratic engagements. Is there no need to review few things about our political patterns? What do you think would happen if we all would decide to do what is right, just, humane and noble then discard the politics of religion and ethnicity?. Can’t we embrace qualitative efforts and base our political and democratic systems purely on merit, equity and justice? Must we continue to recycle our leaders? How long must the retired, tired and incompetent politicians or persons be allowed to stick tenaciously to the corridors of political powers? Shouldn’t there be a consortium of fresh and old people as Tink Tank for our leaders? Shouldn’t there be qualitative room for political mentorship? The way to remain relevant politically is not to hold on to political power even when your conscience tells you that your usefulness and utility are gone for good.
We need political leaders who would quit the stage when the ovation is loudest and retire to become consultants on sound well informed political engineering. We need self discipline, foresight and Let us move away from Economic and political potentialism to success in reality.
As a middle consensus we can converge few recycled politicians with the newbreed or new entrants in political leadership that need political grooming for positive change and effects.
We need new thinkers with development orientation that would usher in quality life. We equally need sound economic transformation tailored by well informed minds that would produce strong structure for economic diversification with a required productive base void of political and economic illiteracy and idiocy. This if embraced will deliver our Nation and people from deepening and greater poverty. The current massive recession in our Country Nigeria is quite alarming. Hypocrisy in political leadership would often deny this fact. We the people of Nigeria don’t need a prophet to tell us that a woman is pregnant with the possibility of miscarriage, still birth or possible death for both baby and mother if proper care is not taken. The suspension of Justice Onnoghen is alien to our constitution.
Is the code of Conduct Tribunal the main and starting point for the investigation on the allegations of breach of constitutional asset declaration of assets. Is this not an attempted against Nigeria’s Judiciary? Due process would demand that Justice Walter Onnoghen intimidation be advised to step aside so that the NJC would look into his case and make relevant recommendations. This independence of the Judiciary as enshrined in the constitution must remain non negotiable.
Was it the Code of conduct Bureau (CCB) that instigated or instituted the case against Justice Walter Onnoghen? Was the President, Buhari not ill advised for this notorious action? Why should our President, Buhari’s action on the CJN not be seen as the climax of a disregard on the Rule of Law and checks and balances? Does Buhari’s action present him as a true democrat? Is this scenero a dejavu?.
Why are Nigerians especially some of our politicians disobeying and destroying the laws that we all and they swore an oath to observe? Are they obeying the law by disobeying it? We must re affirm that “power is a check to power”.
Montesquieu noted that Human Beings are inherently sinful, corrupt, self centered and nepotic to the point that they inevitably contravene God’s Law. Hence he felt that separation of powers must serve the needed restraints of tyrants that masquerade as politicians. May I refer you to my last articles in this Newspaper day/14-20 November 2018 (2 editions). That article was revelatory and prophetic article dated 14-20 No. 2018 in the light of this recent encounter by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (Justice Walter Onnoghen) who was recently suspended by the President Muhammed Buhari based on alleged misconduct. Does the Executive have a constitutional power to bypass the National Judicial Council to suspend the Head of the Judiciary or CJN for that matter? Does he have the constitutional powers to swear in an Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria when the alleged conducts had not been conclusively resolved by relevant authorities? Is there any hidden agenda?
Is there no possibility of this episode going negatively beyond what the Executive may cope with or contemplate at the end of the exercise? Was it proper for Justice Tanko to allow himself to be used to desecrate the hallowed Temple of Justice? Can the Justice Tanko we know easily become a tool in the hands of despotic leadership? His oath of office and allegiance he swore to may likely advise him to review or reconsider this lepros or tainted gift. Is President Buhari’s action of swearing in of Justice Mohammad Tanko as Acting CJN not an illegality, hence a nullity and ultra vires?
It is note worthy to state that on 14th March, 2018, Justice M. Tanko served in the Judicial Panel that compelled Justice Obisike Orji of Abia State Judicairy to vacate his position as the Acting Chief Judge of Abia State to go on compulsory retirement, Justice Orji was asked to quit from the Bench. The major reason given on this matter was that he (Orji) allowed himself to be sworn in by the Executive without any serious input or reference or recommendation from or reference to the National Judicial Commission. Wisdom or political wisdom teaches us to admit that one organ of Government is limited by the other organ(s). This calls for caution.
It is difficult for me to believe that President Buhari would want to engage in self succession in a couratry as big and vibrant as Nigeria with over 200 million intelligent people. Is it possible to smolder the rule of law and win in this matter of despotic action in Nigeria?
Can Buhari or the Justice Tanko build something on nothing? No way! Is it convenient to overlook the act of Justice Mohammad Tanko swearing in (250 members?) election petitions Tribunal panel for 2019 February election? What was the raison d’etre for this ignoble actions or illegal appointment? Our existing constitution is not silent on what should be done in a situation like this. The President’s Executive power(s) is limited by law and it is ultra vires for his power to act in the absence of explicit legislative authorizations. The absence of 13 Justices of the supreme court during Justice Tanko’s inauguration of the election Tribunal members is a pointer that all is not well.
(see sections 159 and 292 of the 1999 constitution (as Amended) such suspension begs for lifting as it was done out of ego or misadvise. Hence ultra vires our Presidential system of Government is a limited Government with separation of powers, and of Law.
A friend of mine, Professor Augusto Zimmerman Succinctly stated this in one of his books, “Christian foundations” that Christian ideas such as “natural Law; Natural rights and natural justice extensively contributed to the candid development of the common Law as well as indeed the preservation of freedom and justice. Hence God did reveal moral absolutes in his Holy Bible and placed these facts and truths on the human heart to explore and utilize for good effects.
There is also the evidence of the Christian origin of the common Law in England, United States and Australia and Nigeria.
Conclusively Christianity is incapable of being pushed out of the public sphere no matter whatever efforts of evil schemers.
John Locke (1632-1704) was an English thinker who indeed influenced the American Constitutionalism. Hence he was named the “Great Founder of Liberalism” that provided moral political justification for the Glorious Revolution in England.
The constitutional squabble of the parliamentary forces were fashioned against the Stuart Monarchs in the 17th Century England ushered in a receptive attitude to Biblical Christianity gave rise to John Locke’s elaboration of a theory that “primary justification for civil government must rest on the preservation of unalienable rights to life, liberty and belongings or property”.
Remarkably this theory or political philosophy is equally reflected in United States Declaration of Independence more so such that appealed to God-given rights and the Lawful right to RESIST TYRANNY.
Baron de Montesquieu (1680-1755). One outstanding thing that the American Revolution established was a Republican Government that made political sovereignty to be placed in the hands of the people. What a difference from that of English tradition in which the parliament (and other times the crown) was recognized as the ultimate source of sovereignty?.
The American structure of Government which Nigeria has embraced later is land must indeed be based) on a severe separation of Government powers between the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Organs of Government. That was keenly made to remain Fundamental to the American Constitutional order till date. Nigeria remains an entity that decided to operate the same presidential system of Government. The separation of powers among Government organs must be sacrosanct in Nigeria.
The separation of power of the organs of Government as the American Constitutional drafters designed was commonly traceable to the work of a French thinker and political theorist Charles-Louis de secondat, Baron de la Brede et de-Montesquieu.
Montesquieu’s first published and celebrated book was the “spirit of the Law” That book instantly received international acclamation. Montesquien’s theory and principles gave the Framers of the United States of America Constitution the theory of “checks and balances” and of division of powers” with clear distinction among and between the Legislative Executive and the Judiciary. This view or principle remains sacrosanct in American Constitutional democratic Leadership till date. Why is ours just in theory and not in absolute practice even now?
Checks and balances. Why should the judiciary become in our era a punching bag, always at the receiving ends? Is the Judiciary meek or weak that there has been series of embarrassing treatment from the Executive in the past few years? Some people should stand in defense of the Judiciary in Nigeria now.
I know that the Judiciary can bark and bite when the time comes despite the occasional Intimidation and humiliating treatments from the Executive Arm of Government.
Are these arbitrary actions the evidence of fear of the unknown especially post election issues? I am not sure of post election that these provocative acts will go down well with the Judiciary during and after the 2019 elections.
According to news report about 13 supreme Court Justices were absent during the swearing in and inauguration of Justice Tanko at Abuja of the Election Petition Panel which was Officiated by the Acting Chief Judge of Nigeria (Justice Mohammed Tanko) why were these allegations not dug up against Justice Walter Onnoghen then and not taken care of prior to his elevation to the position of (CJN). If not then why now and for what intent? Representative Democracy is what bestows legitimate power and that is what we need most now in Nigeria. Hence a serious cry for sanity and decorum in a limited Government.
Let me state clearly that I am not holding any interest or brief and can’t hold such for Justice Walter Onoghen. However it is noble to recognize this separation of powers and follow due process even in dealing with most the miserable offender if any. The National Judiciary council must have a strong voice on this matter now or never. No room for decimation and desecration please.
Cowardise must be discarded. When one more so the head is attacked in a manner that does not guarantee due process, rule of law, checks and balances. There is the need to rise in unism to adequately confront this legal and constitutional erosion of powers by the Executive. Advisers to the President must guide and inform and brief him appropriately to avoid misleading him in a manner that can create anarchy or distrust in Leadership.
The Nigerian Bar Association should confront this anormally squarely. Who says that Lawyers can’t go on strike if need be? An assault on the Judiciary where the Lawyers operate maximally is also an attack on the Lawyers maximally it is also an attack on the Lawyers means of livelihood.
Today the judges, Justices etc are under heavy bombardments tomorrow it could be the Legal practitioners etc. or any other institution or Association.
There are things and acts that should not be condoned but be resisted for effects. We should reduce this ridicule by acting corporately and individually to protect the Law profession, the NJC and the Justices not yet in the glare are right now being tested, tormented and intimidated or humiliated in one way or the other stand for your rights- our profession deserves the greatest respect from the other arms of Government and verse versa. Government must be a limited institution that must observe decorum.
Good Governance must expect and tolerate opposition or contrary view points for this is the beauty of democracy and democratic Governance. Despite the fact that beauty of Democracy is that it allows to contest, it should not be detriment.
Well meaning Journalists, clergy and activists should condemn and stand against this despotic impunity. This assault on the Judiciary is an assault on all and sundry.
My great respect and praise also go to the United States of America; the United Kingdom, the European Union and the courageous Justices of the Supreme court of Nigeria for their bold and honest steps.
God bless you and keep you for posterity and protection of Justice, equity, fair play, courage and longevity. Nigerians must speak with one voice against impunity, intimidation etc.