A Professor of International Law at the University of Lagos, Prof. Akin Oyebode, has said that nothing constitutes a graver threat to stability, peace and good governance than impunity and reckless behaviour by government and its security agencies.
He made this assertion while delivering a keynote address at the fourth and final edition of the Policy Monitoring Dialogue Series by Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD) with the support of Ford Foundation, which took place in Lagos recently.
According to him, the failure by the state and its security apparatus to abide by the tenets of rule of law is a sword of Damocles on democracy.
“Very often, the security arm has to be compelled to apprehend the necessity to act in a manner confortable with the rule of law. This is most notable in the developing world where political and social institutions are not altogether well developed,” he said.
In his address, entitled ‘The Centrality of Rule of Law and Human Rights in a Just and Equitable Society: Nigeria’s Democratic Experience’, he said the way forward is to put government and security organs on their toes so that the democratic process can be strengthened.
“It would seem the judicial arm is well placed to do this. Once there is a general awareness of all and sundry to abide by decisions of the courts, all that would be required is for the courts to rise to the occasion by discharging its historical responsibilities,” he said.
He said the government must ensure that the most qualified persons find their way to high judicial office.
“Furthermore, judges should be without guile and reproach but if later found wanting, such judges should be separated from the judiciary by implementing the existing requisite judicial codes and guidelines. Nothing is as devastating and corrosive as a corrupt or morally challenged judicial officer,” Prof. Oyebode said.
Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chairman SCDDD mentioned that impunity is worse than stealing, because stolen money could still be recovered.
In his contribution, Femi Falana (SAN) accused the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of being the worst in terms of impunity and flouting court orders and violation of human rights.
He cited the continued detention of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife, as two different cases in point.
His words: “Many judgments have been given but ignored by the government, particularly the Buhari regime. It simply ignores the court.”
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