By Jude Ndukwe
“Politics is the art of making your selfish desires seem like thenational
interest” – Thomas Sowell
Recently,during his address to lawyers at the 2018 Annual Conference of
the Nigerian BarAssociation, NBA, in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari had
alarmed not onlyNigerians but the entire world when he was quoted as
saying that “Rule of Lawmust be subject to the supremacy of the nation’s
security and nationalinterest”.
The alarmbell this sounded to Nigerians would not have been so troubling
if the one whomade such a speech was not the President and
Commander-in-Chief of the ArmedForces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
in whose hands lie enormous powersthat allow him function almost like the
Alpha and Omega of our country, therebyinflicting injurious abuses on
citizens and the nation as a whole.
Such astatement would not have caused much chaos in the polity if the
president hadbeen known to exercise his powers with restraint and not
unleashed them on thepeople according to his own whimsies and caprices.
Whatpresident Buhari does not seem to know, and this is unfortunate
considering hisposition, is that the Rule of Law encompasses every aspect
of the societyincluding national interest and security. In fact, it is a
monumental failureon the part of the numerous legal luminaries he has
access to including theHonourable Minister of Justice and Attorney-General
of the Federation, MrAbubakar Malami SAN, for the president to be allowed
to goof big time on such amatter of national and international concern.
It is thereforenot a surprise that just five days after making that
infamous statementsubjecting the rule of law to national security,
whatever that means, PresidentBuhari immediately capitulated, and as is
famous with his administration, somersaultedbefore the visiting German
Chancellor, Angel Merkel, telling her that he wouldalways uphold the rule
of law in governing the country.
PresidentBuhari was quoted to have told the German chancellor and her
delegation that“…the rule of law embodies all the rightful mechanisms for
conflict resolution,both within the country, and in dealing with all
This kind ofself-reversal is shameful, to say the least, given that the
president’s speechto the NBA was a deliberate one and reflected the
mindset and code of conductof the Buhari administration. It is the stark
reality of the banality of thepresident’s stance, something he could
neither defend nor promote before thecivilized world that made him
contradict himself before the German Chancellor.The question then is, why
propagate it in the country in the first place?
It is certainthat Buhari’s statement at the NBA conference was not a
statement of intent butthat made to justify the many cases of gross abuse
of citizens’ rights andflagrant disregard of court orders and persecution
of democratic institutions includingthe legislature from 2015 till date.
It was a statement made to justify theadministration’s acts of sheer
wickedness and brutality against the people.Like Buhari himself told
Merkel, without rule of law, there cannot be nationalsecurity. In fact, it
is in national interest to observe the rule of law asdoing otherwise
leaves the citizens to the rule of might of few power drunkindividuals and
cabals in government, and such usually lead to the breakdown oflaw and
Our nation isreplete with Buhari’s gross abuse of power. As it was with
him as a militaryHead of State, so it is with him now and even worse. Just
last week, it wasreported that the DSS released seven Nigerians who had
been in its custody andwere held in the Services’ underground cell under
inhuman conditions for overtwo years without trial or prosecution of any
One of them, Clinton Ohaigbofa fromEbedebiri in Ogbia Local Government
Area of Bayelsa State, narrated theirheartrending ordeal thus: “They
treated us badly. We were held in anunderground cell. They gave us little
bread in the morning, little rice in theafternoon and a morsel of semovita
in the evening.
“Each portion of food cannot satisfy atwo-year old baby. They deprived us
of everything. They didn’t even take us tocourt. There was no freedom to
even see light. They subjected us tosevere punishment. They kept us
hungry and deprived us of medication”.
If this is not wickedness, what else canone adjudge it to be?
It is befuddling that citizens held underBuhari’s warped definition of
national security and interest are eventuallyreleased without any trial.
The question is, when such hapless citizens arereleased at the pleasure of
the president, does it mean that they have stoppedbeing security threat to
the nation or someone somewhere just wanted to testthe might of his power
on innocent and helpless citizens?
Jones Abiri, a Bayelsa-based journalist wasalso recently released after
public outcry against his whimsical incarcerationfor about two years in
DSS custody without trial. After having been subjectedto similar inhuman
treatment and stripped of his dignity like an ordinaryhousefly by Buhari’s
men, Abiri regained his freedom with an everlastingpsychological scar to
himself and his loved ones.
Col Sambo Dasuki, rtd, is another victim ofthe gross abuse of the rule of
law. After having perfected his bail conditionsirrespective of their
stringent nature, Buhari and his men have blatantlydisregarded several
orders of courts of competent jurisdiction to allow Dasukienjoy his bail
while his trial continued. The man has been in illegal detention for over
two years now.
The case of the leader of Islamic Movementin Nigeria, IMN, otherwise known
as the Shiites, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, iseven more gruesome. After men
and officers of the Nigerian Army killed hischildren and hundreds of his
followers in cold blood in Zaria in 2015, theBuhari administration has
continued to hold him and his wife in custody ingross disobedience of
multiple court orders.
The worst of government actions based onBuhari’s kind of “national
security and interest” was the utterly disgustingand brutish invasion of
the national assembly, an institution that symbolizesdemocracy in nations
worldwide, by men of the Department of State Services,DSS, on Tuesday,
August 7, 2018. That mindless invasion, perhaps reminds Nigeriansthat
Buhari means business when he acts in ways subjecting a universalprinciple
like the rule of law to his selfish, parochial and jaundiceddefinition of
national interest and security. That invasion proves to theentire world
that Nigeria currently parades tyrants as leaders in Nigeria. Itwas an
invasion that rubbished the well established universal principles
ofseparation of power and checks andbalances in every civilized democratic
The prevention of lawmakers and staff ofthe national assembly from gaining
entrance into the assembly to conduct theirlegitimate businesses as
provided for by our laws, by gun-toting masked lawenforcement officers,
leaves no one in doubt as to the mindset and workings ofthe Buhari
administration. Although Lawal Daura who was DG of the DSS as at thetime
the invasion happened was eventually sacked in what a majority ofNigerians
describe as desperate efforts by government to save its face afterthe
invasion planned to achieve its purpose, has since been reported to
havesaid that contrary to insinuations in some quarters that he acted
alone, theinvasion was a “collective decision”.
Similar to such official politicalbrigandage was the illegal invasion of
the Benue State House of Assembly thistime by policemen who prevented the
lawmakers from gaining access to theassembly complex for the purpose of
carrying out their legitimate duties. Therampaging policemen had said
their actions were based on the usual “oder fromabove”, a cliché marauding
law enforcement officers on illegal duties havealways used to cover their
While Nigerians and their democraticinstitutions including the legislature
and the judiciary were being rubbishedby Buhari’s executive arm in the
name of national interest and security, Fulaniherdsmen terrorists have
been having a field day killing innocent Nigerians intheir thousands
including women and children, sacking whole communities anddestroying
people’s sources of livelihood. Rather than arrest the culprits,Buhari and
his “national interest and security” government have been makingexcuses
ranging from the ridiculous to the mundane for these unrelentingkillers.
What an irony! What a tragedy!
Maybe it is also in national interest andsecurity that Babachir Lawal,
former SGF is still walking free after beingindicted for allegedly
defrauding our poorest of the poor, the IDPs. Maybe itis also in national
interest and security that Kemi Adeosun, Buhari’s ministerof finance is
still holding on to her job two months after her reported NYSCcertificate
forgery scandal was exposed. Maybe it was also in national interestand
security that the alleged pension thief, Abdulrashid Maina,
wasscandalously and surreptitiously recalled and promoted by this
administrationuntil the whole thing was blown open. We can go on and on.
Just like the Chief Justice of Nigeria,CJN, Walter Onnoghen, said on
Tuesday, July 24, 2018, during the commissioningand official opening of an
ultramodern Court of Appeal Complex in Calabar,“without the rule of law,
the society is doomed”, Nigeria is heading for doomunder this
Let me conclude this piece with the goldenwords of the Supreme Court in
Military Governor of Lagos State vs OdimegwuOjukwu (2001) FWLR (part 50)
“The Nigerian Constitution is founded onthe rule of law, the primary
meaning of which is that everything must be doneaccording to law. Nigeria,
being one of the countries in the world whichprofesses loudly to follow
the rule of law, gives no room for the rule ofself-help by force to
I hope Buhari and his handlers heard that?
firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @stjudendukwe