Joe Effiong, Uyo
Renowned lawyer and rights activist, Mike Ozekhome, has warned that Nigeria will be doomed if the country is not restructured.
Ozekhome also raised the alarm over “grave impunity, abuse of power and disobedience to the rule of law as currently being displayed by the current government at the centre” and said Nigeria is heading for a doom if drastic steps are not taken to redeem it.
In his paper, entitled: “The Bench, Bar investigating agencies and anti-corruption campaign in Nigeria,” delivered in Uyo, yesterday, as part of the activities to mark the 2018 Bar Week, by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Uyo branch, the constitutional lawyer accused the Federal Government of hiding under the claims of fighting corruption to weaken institutions established by law, while breeding ‘strongmanism’ to avert probe.
He said the federal government has continued to set its anti-corruption agencies against other arms of government and perceived opposition; treating corrupt officials within the party of government with deodorants, while applying insecticides, pesticides and herbicide on the opposition.
While the security agencies have been pushed by the government to overstep their constitutional bounds on perceived or imagined corrupt politicians of the opposition, he said the system has continued to sweep under the carpet, glaring cases of fraud against those serving under it.
“Under the present dispensation, though the government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, has sworn to fight corruption to a standstill, impunity and disobedience to extant laws and rules, including the judgment of courts of competent jurisdiction, have become the order of the day.
“The government seems to derive joy in breaching the laws and established rules. There is brazen abuse of the rule of law and glaring impunity all over the country, the judiciary is no more the last hope of the common man, since it is apparent these days that the people at the helm of affairs, who claim to be democratic, prefer the rule of force, which is alien to democracy, rather than observe the rule of law embedded in it.
“The deliberate attempt by the executive to get the judiciary subdued by launching attacks on judicial officers is evident and, to a great extent, whittled the boldness that existed in the arm. The humiliation of serving judges by the executive arm is one of the methods by the government to create an atmosphere of fear, that will enable it conduct its affairs with grave impunity and utter disregard to rule of law, but without check by the other arms of government,” he said.
Citing an instance where the government allegedly displayed corruption in shielding corrupt members of the ruling party and exhibiting selective fight against opposition, Ozekhome accused the federal government of consistently sweeping under the carpet the many allegations of financial misappropriation and scandals among its officials.
“For example, the $25 billion NNPC scandal remains un-investigated, or no one prosecuted, the Babachir Lawal (grass cutter) scandal for which enquiries were carried out by the committee headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, but no one prosecuted, rather, he was replaced with his close kin,” he said.