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Impunity, rights abuse, anti-corruption war: Where Gani could have stood

By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa

Continues from last week:

GANI established the National Conscience  Party in 1994, principally to rally nationwide support for the activation of the June 12, 1993 election mandate, for the entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria, to provide a platform for genuine change in Nigeria and for the emancipation of the masses from political, economic and socio-cultural enslavement. The NCP had the unique motto of: Abolition of Poverty. He declared his intention to contest election as the presidential candidate of the NCP in April 2002.

His love for the masses and less privileged led him to set up a scholarship scheme since 1971. Every year, scholarships are awarded to brilliant children all over Nigeria, to support their education in various schools.

Gani suffered in the hands of the powers that be, having been arrested and detained not less than 32 times in various police stations and prisons across Nigeria. His passport was seized several times, his houses and chambers searched at random and without notice, his books were confiscated and several trumped up criminal charges were filed against him, as a way of silencing him.

He was physically assaulted on several occasions, one of which was on Wednesday, October 20, 1999, at the Federal High Court, Lagos, when rented political thugs attempted to kill him, but could only smash the glass of his Pajero Jeep, on account of the case he instituted in court to compel the Inspector-General of Police to investigate allegations of certificate forgery and false declaration, against the former Governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Gani won several laurels and awards, in recognition of his struggle for the masses, amongst which was membership of the Ghandi Foundation in 1971, Senior Advocate of the Masses, 1988, Bruno Kriesky Award for the defence of human rights in 1993, American Bar Association Award for human rights in 1996 and the prestigious Bernard Simons Memorial Award by the International Bar Association in1998. He was voted Man of the Year by several newspapers and organisations. He was elevated to the Inner Bar as Senior Advocate of Nigeria in September, 2001.

STATE OF THE NATION

To be able to discern what Gani would have done in any given situation, it is important to examine and x-ray that situation critically. And this necessarily leads us to the state of the Nigerian nation. Without any doubt whatsoever, I believe that Nigerians are now united in their opinion that there is recession in the land.

There is palpable hunger, suffering, poverty, inflation and hopelessness, in the land, across Nigeria. It has never been this bad. Let us look at a few examples. In Ilorin, Kwara State, it was reported that a housewife lamented her situation when she was cooking and went out to fetch some things and her pot of soup had been stolen before she returned.

In Ilesha, Osun State, it was reported that a man used his daughter to deceive a shop owner to release a bag of garri to him and abandoned the child in the process. In Akwa Ibom State, it was reported that a father of two committed suicide on account of poverty and economic frustration, leaving a suicide note, for  Gen Buhari as the cause of his death.

In Lagos last week, a middle aged man jumped into the Lagos Lagoon, shouting Buhari, Buhari, as the reason for his attempted suicide. The list is almost endless.

In many states of the federation presently, workers are not paid, for months, some are being forced to combine working with farming, by their governors, as a means of short changing them of their legitimate salaries. As a result of this, children are being withdrawn from schools, since their parents cannot pay their school fees, marriages are facing challenges for lack of basic amenities.

The President does not seem to care, truly, given his utterances and actions. He has expressed a preference for the 1984/85 period of doom, whereby Nigerians will be forced to queue for essential commodities, whereby dictatorship and totalitarianism will become the style of governance.

Dictatorship and totalitarianism

In most states presently, democratic governance in the local government system is suspended for caretaker committees, who are nominees and stooges of the governors. Even in Lagos State where the NCP won a court judgment compelling the conduct of local government elections, the government has blatantly refused to obey the judgment of the court, even where there is no order for a stay of execution pending appeal.

In the case of Lagos State, executive lawlessness took a new dimension when the Governor, not only dared the court by disobeying the judgment on local government elections, but proceeded to appoint new sole administrators, after the judgment of the court, clearly in contravention of section 7 of the 1999 Constitution.

It took the President over six months to constitute his cabinet, as he preferred to be a lone ranger, and this eventually trickled down to the states. In Osun State, Governor Rauf Aregbesola has been a sole administrator for the past two years, ruling the state without a single commissioner, no special advisers, in contravention of section 192 of the 1999 Constitution, that there must be regular meetings of the State Executive Council, consisting of the Governor and his Commissioners.

Worst still in Osun, the Osun State House of Assembly has been romancing with the Governor as a dictator, approving yearly budgets prepared and submitted by the Governor as a single individual without commissioners. The Assembly in Osun even approved the creation of LCDAs, in a state without commissioners!

This dictatorship is replicated in Oyo State and indeed in many other States. Only last week, it was reported that the Governor of Rivers State, sacked four of his commissioners, including the State Accountant General, for alleged indiscipline. They all follow the body language of dictatorship.

The current administration has great hatred and contempt for the judiciary, whose orders and judgments are never obeyed.

Hatred and contempt

Since March 2014, the Federal High Court in Lagos, declared the collection of toll fees illegal, but the Lagos State Government has continued to collect the tolls; in 2015, the same Federal High Court declared the restriction of movement for the monthly environmental sanitation in Lagos State as illegal but the government has continued to force people indoors, despite the judgment.

The same Federal High Court, had restrained the federal government from implementing the callous electricity tariff increase, but the government has wantonly disobeyed the order of the court and has continued to force consumers to pay the new tariff.

The judiciary generally, is under some form of siege from the Buhari administration, as so many judges have been sacked in very controversial circumstances, including Justice Oloyede, in Osun State, who was booted out of office for allegedly confronting the Governor of the State. Judges are being intimidated directly, through the agencies of government, like the EFCC and the ICPC.

It is worse for lawyers and activists alike, all of whose life are now in great danger. Just last week, human rights lawyer, Ken Atsuwete, was murdered in cold blood. Telephone lines of most defence lawyers have been hacked into and bugged by the agencies of government, denying them of any privacy, as guaranteed by the Constitution.

 


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.