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Why justice and the rule of law must prevail

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Only a few days ago, the Nigerian police, in an unnecessary bid to disperse what was a peaceful demonstration by the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, triggered a series of events that left several people injured.

The protesters were on their way to the secretariat of the National Human Rights Commission to echo their demand for the release of their leader, Sheik El zakzaky, who has been kept in detention since December 2015 without bail even against orders from a federal court of competent jurisdiction.

I dare say that no nation can progress if the rights of its most vulnerable citizens are abused by the very state that is supposed to protect them.

It is expedient to remind ourselves and in particular our elected leaders, that we run a constitutional democracy, one that guarantees the protection of the rights of all Nigerians whether they look like us or not. This is why democracy is about certain values, ideals, and privileges and not about persons or personalities.

In a democratic society, the color of your skin should be as inconsequential as your mother tongue, as everyone is equal before the law. Thus, we must, by all means, resist the temptation to treat, by all means, ‘expendables’.

Therefore, we must place a demand on our leaders to live up to the dictates of the constitution from which they derive their power and authority. The ugly precedence of flagrantly disregarding court orders and cherry-picking judgments is by far the greatest blow to our democracy.

No one remains in power forever, as such, those who choose to vulgarize the judicial institution today might need this very institution to defend them tomorrow. In fact, when General Buhari was detained in 1985 by the Babangida regime, it took the likes of Femi Falana (SAN) to lead several protests demanding his release, not minding the fact that the same General Buhari had detained them only a few years before.

It is my firm belief that democracy cannot thrive without the rule of law, and the application of that law but be fair and just to all Nigerians irrespective of social class or religion. The Nigerian state should therefore, allow the fair trial of Sheik El zazaky and the several other Nigerians who have been unlawfully detained for reasons the Nigerian police describe as ‘threat to national security’. The way I see it, and if history is anything to go by, the greatest threat to our national security is the continuous detention of El zakzaky and the state aggression towards his followers, who are touted to be about 9 million across the country.

Though our judiciary need several reforms, some of which I will discuss in another essay, our judges are doing the best they can within the obvious limitations and so should be trusted to expeditiously dispense justice when and if the need arises.  I hereby urge the federal government to see to the fair trial of the Sheik and the several others like him whose rights have been trampled upon.

We the people should however remember the words of the famous protestant pastor, Martin Niemoller, who said “first they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionist and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me”.

We must never be silent in the face of injustice.


Garba is a 2019 Presidential aspirant

The post Why justice and the rule of law must prevail appeared first on Tribune.

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