Revealed: How President Buhari’s Administration Serially Disobeys Court Orders…Details

The
manner in which the President Buhari-led government serially disobeys
court orders without apology has been examined in this new report.
President Muhammadu Buhari being sworn in
 
Shortly after assuming office, President Muhammadu Buhari
reiterated his commitment to ensure compliance to the rule of law by all
agencies of government under his administration.
 
Four months after he was sworn in as president, in reaction to
cases of human right abuses by security operatives, Mr. Buhari noted
that his administration would not tolerate the situation where any arm
of government undermines the rule of law.
 
“Let me reiterate this administration’s commitment to due
process, merit and total observance of the rule of law as central
pillars of a prosperous and democratic society,”
the president said.
 
Also during an address delivered at the Commonwealth meeting in
May, 2016, Mr. Buhari again restated his government’s commitment to
comply with the rule of law and respect for human rights.
 
“I am committed to applying the rule of law and to respecting human rights,” the President had said.
 
Similarly, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in an interview with
journalists in April restated the administration’s commitment to the
rule of law including obedience of court orders.
 
“I very strongly believe that we must obey the law. It is our duty as government to respect the orders of the court.”
 
Despite the verbal statements of the president and his deputy,
however, three cases highlight how the Buhari administration has
serially violated court orders, going against the rule of law it has
repeatedly touted.
 
DASUKI
 
Sambo Dasuki
 
As part of the Buhari administration’s commitment to tacking
corruption, several officials of the previous administration, accused of
mismanaging public funds, were charged to court.
 
Prominent among such persons was the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
 
Mr. Dasuki is facing multiple charges for alleged diversion of $2.1 billion and illegal possession of fire arms.
 
Although Mr. Dasuki has been granted bail on at least six different
occasions by various courts, the Nigerian government has persistently
refused to comply with the court orders.
 
In the wake of his trial, a Federal High Court in Abuja, presided
over by Justice Adeniyi Ademola in 2015 ordered the release of Mr.
Dasuki’s passport and granted him permission to travel abroad for three
weeks on medical grounds.
 
Despite the order made on November 3, the SSS refused to release Mr. Dasuki.
 
Again, the former NSA and four others were allowed bail on December
18, 2015 with a similar condition to provide a bond of N250 million by
Justice Hussein-Baba Yusuf.
 
Although that condition was fulfilled, the court order has yet to be obeyed by the Nigerian government.
 
Similarly, the former NSA; a former Minister of State for Finance,
Bashir Yuguda; former Sokoto governor, Attahiru Bafarawa; ‎and three
others were granted bail on December 21, 2015 by the Federal Capital
Territory High Court in the sum of N250 million each and two sureties in
like sum.
 
They were charged to court on a 22-count charge for alleged
diversion of funds, misappropriation and breach of trust to the tune of
N19.4 billion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
 
Despite fulfilling the conditions for his bail set by Justice Peter Affen, the SSS refused to release Mr. Dasuki.
 
Following the refusal of the administration to obey Nigerian
courts, Mr. Dasuki approached a Court of the Economic Community of West
Africa, ECOWAS, for international mediation on the matter.
 
The ECOWAS court on October 4, 2016 granted the former NSA bail and
ordered the Nigerian government to pay N15 million to the defendant as
damages for his ‘illegal and arbitrary detention’.
 
Reacting to the order by the ECOWAS court, however, the
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar
Malami, said government was not under compulsion to respect that court
order.
 
A few months later, on January 17 this year, the Abuja Division of
the Federal High Court reaffirmed previous court orders granting Mr.
Dasuki bail, and stressed that the fact of the said orders were
undisputable.
 
Also on April 6, the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court
affirmed, for the umpteenth time, its decision for the release of Mr.
Dasuki.
 
Despite all these court orders, Mr. Dasuki is still held at the Kuje Maximum Prisons, while his trials continue.
 
EL-ZAKZAKY
 
Ibraheem El-Zakzaky
 
Perhaps the most absurd of violation of human rights by the Buhari
administration is its treatment of Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, a leader of a
Shiite group, IMN.
Mr. El-Zakzaky has been in detention without any trial for over 17 months.
 
On December 2, 2016 the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court
ordered his release with the judge berating the Nigerian government for
violating his rights.
 
Mr. El-Zakzaky was arrested by the military on December 14, 2015
after a clash between his IMN and officers of the Nigerian Army.
 
At least 347 members of the group were killed during the clash. Nobody is being prosecuted for the killings.
 
Delivering the court order for the release of Mr. El-Zakzaky and
his wife, the presiding judge, Gabriel Kolawole, also asked that a fine
of N50 million be paid to the detainees, while an accommodation be
provided for them and their family.
 
Despite warnings by the court that the Nigerian government would
face further sanctions if it refused to abide by the order for the
release of Mr. El-Zakzaky and his wife, that decision has not been
complied with long after the 45 days ultimatum given by the court of
law.
 
Mr. Kolawole had in that ruling described the Shiite’s relationship
with the Nigerian government as “delicate and slippery”, stressing that
the Nigerian Government must not demonise the IMN.
 
Not interested in obeying the December 2, 2016 court order, the
federal government filed an appeal against the ruling, 10 days after the
expiration of the deadline for Mr. El-Zakzaky’s release.
 
Several rallies have been held by members of the Shiite group
demanding the release of their leader and his wife. Also, the government
is yet to accuse him of any crime or file any charges against him.
 
ALSCON
 
In July 2016, the Supreme Court gave an order reaffirming the
nullification of the 2006 controversial transfer of the Aluminium
Smelter Company of Nigeria, ALSCON, to a Russian firm, the United
Company RUSAL.
 
The violation of the ruling of Nigeria’s apex court on the matter
did not however, start with the Buhari administration. The 2016 ruling
was the third by the Supreme Court since the questionable sale of the
aluminium plant to the Russians by the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE
in 2004.
 
In June 2004, the Nigerian-American consortium, Bancorp Financial
Investment Group Divino Corporation BFIG, led by Reuben Jaja, was
declared winner of the bid for the plant organised by the National
Council for Privatization, NCP.
 
But, the BPE cancelled the outcome of the bid and disqualified the
consortium in controversial circumstances, accusing it of failure to
meet the deadline for the payment of 10 per cent of the bid price it
offered in line with stipulated guidelines.
 
BFIG took the matter to court seeking the enforcement of its right
in line with the terms of agreement reached in the pre-bid technical
conference by all bid parties.
 
For over eight years, the matter dragged in various courts in
Nigeria, till the Supreme Court, on July 6, 2012, in a unanimous
verdict, annulled the handing over of ALSCON to UC RUSAL.
 
The court, which declared as illegal, null and void, BPE’s decision
on the basis of the agreement purportedly reached at their negotiations
in 2006, reinstated BFIG as the authentic winner of the bid.
 
The BPE, defiantly dismissed the ruling as an error, encouraging
Dayson Holdings Limited, the Nigerian affiliate of UC RUSAL in Nigeria,
to file an appeal.
 
In its application, Dayson Holding sought a review of the July 6,
2012 judgement annulling the 2006 handing over of ALSCON to UC RUSAL by
BPE. The privatisation agency also declared its support for the
continued ownership of the multi-billion-dollar plant.
 
Consequently, BFIG returned to the court with another application
in 2014 seeking the interpretation and enforcement of the subsisting
order against UC RUSAL.
 
Despite BPE, which joined UC RUSAL, to oppose the application, the
Supreme Court in its September 2014 ruling reaffirmed its previous
verdict and directed BPE to “fully enforce and give effect to the
meaning and intendment of the judgment of the Supreme Court of July 6,
2012.”
 
Again, the Russians ignored the directive and proceeded to file an
application in November 2015 to demand the Supreme Court to, not only
review its July 6, 2012 judgment, but also set it aside altogether, and
confirm UC RUSAL as the owner of ALSCON.
 
But, on July 11, 2016, the Supreme Court again, in a unanimous
ruling by a five-member panel led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour,
dismissed the application as incompetent and without merit.
 
In flagrant disregard to the Supreme Court ruling, the Minister of
Mines & Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, in April 2017 undertook an
inspection visit to ALSCON.
 
During the visit, Mr. Fayemi was received and shown around the
plant by Dimitriy Zaviyalov, the managing director of UC RUSAL, the same
firm the Supreme Court repeatedly sacked.
 
The minister not only promised to work with the Russian firm to
reactivate ALSCON, but also assured Mr. Zaviyalov, that government would
“encourage the Supreme Court to expedite action on the ruling, to free
the complex of any encumbrances.”
 
Contrary to Mr. Fayemi’s claim, however, the Supreme Court already ruled.
 
CJN, LAWYERS SPEAK
 
In a recent address, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen,
described the failure of government or any party to adhere to court
judgments as outright impunity.
 
“Anyway, disobedience of court order is an act of impunity,”
said Mr. Onnoghen who further said the problems created by disobedience
of court orders were a matter for the legislature and the executive to
address.
 
Reacting to the trend, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rotimi Jacobs,
said failure of any party to respect court judgements is an abuse of
democracy and an invitation to anarchy.
 
“My reactions to it is that the court, government, parties,
Nigerians must comply with court orders. That is a constitutional duty
imposed on every one as stipulated in section 287 of the Constitution.

“The section says that judgements of every courts of law must
be respected. Judgements by high courts; court of appeal and supreme
court; must be respected by all persons and authorities. There are also
obligations that are imposed on everyone.

“There is a duty on everyone to obey court orders. And on no
account should anyone fail to obey court orders. I think the journalists
should also investigate why the judgements have not been obeyed.
Secondly, have they appealed those judgements? I don’t think any
democratic government that is worth its salt should disobey court orders
because it is the basis. If you disobey court judgements, you ridicule
the judiciary, the constitution, you ridicule everybody and it is an
invitation to anarchy,”
he said.
 
Similarly, a former chairman, National Human Rights Commission,
Chidi Odinkalu, berated the Buhari administration for selection court
orders it wishes to obey.
 
“It’s as if government is picking and choosing what court
judgements to respect and the ones not to respect. There are many
problems with that; one of which is that people will begin to feel that
courts no longer matter. In that case the only thing that matters is
that if you can overcome somebody then you win, but if you can’t, then
you will lose. That becomes a circumstance of rule of war, not rule of
law,”
said Mr. Odinkalu.
 
He added that the situation will only create the avenue for violence and prevent great economic activities in the country.
 
“Investors will not invest in the country, because investors want an environment where rules exist and are respected”.
 
Mr. Odinkalu further said the law courts will also be negatively influenced if the trend continues.
 
“That is to say if you are on the side that is favoured by the
president’s body language then people will respect you because you can
muster political force, but if you are not and you are accused, then you
are endangered. When things get to that point, then it is dangerous.”

RIGHT OF APPEAL
 
Reacting to his administration’s serial violation of court orders,
Mr. Osinbajo told PREMIUM TIMES and other journalists at an interview
that although his government recognises and respects the rule of law, it
also acknowledges its (government’s) right of appeal.
 
“It is our duty as government to respect the orders of the court. But we also reserve the right to appeal”, he said.
 
However, although the federal government has appealed the judgement
mandating Mr. El-Zakzaky’s release, after the deadline, no appeal has
been filed against the many rulings mandating the release of Mr. Dasuki.
 
Also, the Nigerian government has not appealed against the ALSCON
ruling and may be unable to do so as the ruling was repeatedly delivered
by the apex court.
 
****
Culled from PREMIUM TIMES

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