By Abdulwahab Abdulah
Access to Justice, AJ, has urged the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently undertake a visit to Nigeria to assess the level of violations of human rights in the country.
In the letter to the Special Rapporteur of the Human Council on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mr. Diego García-Sayán, AJ, requested that the UN body should, “undertake an urgent country visit to Nigeria to assess the situation and ensure that full and independent investigations are conducted. Based on this fact-finding mission, the Special Rapporteur should provide his conclusions and recommendations to the Nigerian Government.”
In the letter signed by its deputy director, Dr. Adenike Ayedun, AJ made an appeal to the government to respect the supremacy of the Constitution, and enforce all court orders.
“The Special Rapporteur should emphasize Constitutional, Regional and International obligations of the government to ensure the independence of the judicial branch of government. The Commission should also engage the executive arm of government to facilitate the release of El-Zakzaky and his wife before the situation becomes any more severe.
It stated further: “We write to draw the attention of the United Nations to the continued illegal detention of Sheik El-Zakzaky since 2015. Access to Justice first brought this issue to the attention of the United Nations Special Rapporteur in 2017, expressing our serious concerns about the willful disregard of court orders relating to his release by the executive arm of government, and its impact on the state of the rule of law in the country.”
It added that “the Buhari government is also flouting several court orders, including those of the ECOWAS Court of Justice by refusing to release Rtd. Colonel Dasuki Sambo, a senior government official under the last administration, who is facing criminal charges.
“Following the example of the Federal Government, a number of state agencies are also flouting court orders, and acting with impunity. Under the Nigerian Constitution as well as Regional and International treaties binding on Nigeria, the Nigerian State must respect the rule of law, uphold and implement court orders, and respect the authority of each arm of government,” it added.
Chiding the government on principle of separation of powers, the group observed that there is “persistent reluctance of the President Buhari-led government to respect the principle of separation of powers, which is a core component of constitutional democracy and the rule of law, indicates complete disregard for its international, regional and national obligations.
“The failure of the government to uphold the rule of law is undermining and endangering Nigeria’s fragile constitutional democracy and causing widespread loss of faith in the authority of judicial institutions.