The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has expressed its reservation over yesterday’s declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari that the “Rule of Law must be subjected to the supremacy of the nation’s security and national interest.”
In a press release issued by the Organization’s Coordinator for Media and Publications, Otunuga Adegboyega, on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran, he noted, “The claim by government that acting in the best interest of the state and national security justifies setting aside the Rule of Law, is actually not new in our body polity. We could all recollect that during the period of military dictatorship, this argument was always cited as a reason for setting aside the constitution and other civil laws once the nation’s democratic order was suspended. It is disturbing that the same argument was presented at a gathering of over 10,000 Nigerian lawyers at the 58th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
The CACOL boss added that: “ President Muhammadu Buhari cited how our apex court had cause to adopt a position that where national interest or security seems to be threatened, then the concerned individual’s rights or freedom could be suspended. “
Adeniran further stated that: “The first thing to note is that, the concept of national interest first came into political lexicon in the 18th Century through that Italian writer and philosopher, Niccolo Machiavelli, and gained acceptance among leaders across Europe and the West as rulers needed to justify engagement in wars during this historical epoch. Ever since, it has been a controversial concept as the question has always been “Who and what constitutes national interest and how can it be divorced from the personal interest of the paramount ruler or that of the government of the day, especially under a democracy?”
The CACOL boss pointed out that the concept could be likened to what “conscience permits as a substitute for what affairs of state require” by a given government.
He further observed that: “For democracy to take its firm root in Nigeria, the Rule of Law and its twin adjunct of Separation of powers, is a sine qua non. It is therefore imperative that under no circumstance should any government, irrespective of its benevolent or radical posturing, be allowed to unilaterally take it upon itself to determine what constitutes national interest or national security.”
He further stated that: “In place of this, the judiciary as the last hope of the common man should be approached to interpret the relevant laws and determine whether the President’s position is in the best interest of the nation.”
Media Coordinator, CACOL
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