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Dr Kolawole Olaniyan, legal adviser to Amnesty International, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari has shown “stunning disregard for the rule of law and human rights, ignoring Nigerian judges on at least 40 occasions”.
The London-based lawyer, who spoke with PUNCH Newspaper, accused the President of treating judges with disdain, also questioned the sincerity of Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.
Olaniyan made the claims in a piece titled, ‘Buhari is ignoring Nigerian judges – We must not let him get away with it’.
He said, “It’s hard to overstate the significance of this disregard of court orders not just for the operation of the rule of law but also effective respect for constitutional and international human rights, such as freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association and access to information. Yet, Buhari is carrying on, irrespective of human rights and the rule of law.
“Anytime the courts have told Buhari’s government to do something it doesn’t like, it has refused to obey it.
“Even Buhari’s Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami (SAN), once said the rule of law is what the authorities determine it to be.
“The government always has explanations on why it should not obey lawful court orders, seemingly replacing binding legal decisions with the vagaries of politics, and obeying the decisions whenever they suit it.
“This disdainful arrogance for the courts and our constitutional jurisprudence wasn’t even normalised during periods of military dictatorship in Nigeria.
“The public perception seems to be that the government will only obey court orders if it gets what it wants.
“Yet, it should never be right for the government to obey the court as a matter of grace. Buhari has to obey the courts as a matter of necessity.
“If Nigeria is ever going to comply with its international human rights obligations and commitments, the government has to begin to show respect for Nigerian judges.”