By Abdulwahab ABDULAH
Former head of state, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, and former Lagos State State Governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu have expressed concern over the state of the Nation and warned against constitutional and insttitutional collapse of the country.
Both men insisted yesterday that democracy will never thrive unlessÂ citizensÂ subscribe to democractic norms and the rule of law .
The duo, along with other eminent Nigerians,Â spoke at the launch of a book, â€œThe Oguntade Legacy,â€ in honour of the retiring Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice George Oguntade in Lagos. Majority of those who spoke at the occasion,Â including politicians, Jurists, captains of industry and traditional rulers agreed that Nigerians must be ready to demonstrate their readiness and willingness to adopt democracy as a way of life.
TinubuÂ stated that Oguntade â€œfiercely defended the right of ordinary citizens to pursue liberty and dignity of life.â€
Apart from their comments on the state of the nation, they applauded the role played by Justice Oguntade while on the bench. Justice Oguntade, who would on March 10 bow out from the apex courtÂ after clocking mandatory age of 70 years.
All of themÂ lauded the judicial exploit of the eminent jurist
â€œIn my own country people do no longer report to the police, all they now say is â€˜God deyâ€™, Buhari observed, adding that â€œfor 18 years now, our conduct is more or less like that of Somaliaâ€.
Consequently, Buhari warned the political elites in the country to be mindful of how they treat the masses, reminding them that the same scenario played out in Somalia leading to an intractable impasse,â€
Some ofÂ Justice Oguntadeâ€™s celebrated cases include the Supreme Court judgment that led to the swearing_in of Gov Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State,Â reinstatementÂ of former governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Ladoja, and the dissenting judgments in Buhari and Atikuâ€™s case regarding the 2007 presidential election petitions at the apex court.
Former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Alfa Belgore stressed that â€œif the country succeeds,Â it is because of the judiciary,Â and if the country is in turmoil,Â itâ€™s because of the judiciary.â€
The former Chief Justice said that the judiciary remained the last hope of Nigeria to guarantee her continuous stability, expressing the hope that the institution would continue to serve the country better.
He however described Justice Oguntade as â€œa very resolute, incorruptibleâ€ personality who discharged hisÂ duties with strong professionalism.
Leading other personalities atÂ launch withÂ N10 million, prominent businessman, Okoya of EleganzaÂ Â lauded Oguntade for his â€œpainstaking and courageous judgment at all time.â€
Responding, Justice Oguntade called for the â€œde-congestion of the courtsÂ through speedy hearing of cases, noting that justice delay is justice denied.Â Â Â Oguntade saidâ€œ today it is obvious that many things are wrong in the affairs of the country, our conclusion is that Nigeria continues to mis_step because we have failed to respect the concept of rule of law.
â€œThe injustice arising from improper conduct of election is a manifestation of lack of commitment to the rule of law.
â€œA society that enforces the rule of law is bound to make progress,â€ the judge said, urging the Nigerians to work towards entrenching good governance in the country.
He called for the overhauling of the security system in the country, especially the police and the creation of a state police.