An Abuja based constitutional lawyer, Mr Jideobi Johnmary, has tackled the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, accusing him of failing in his responsibility as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation. The lawyer, in an open letter to the AGF titled, “On Omoyele Sowore: That Impunity May Not Collapse The Republic”, decried the mounting cases of flagrant disobedience to court orders by security agencies under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
He challenged Malami to adduce any prove that as the Chief Law Officer of the country, the ever impressed on any security agency the need to comply with valid court orders.
He cited the continued detention of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, and convener of the RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, despite express orders of courts that they should be released on bail pending their trial.
The letter dated November 11, read in part: “Dear Sir, I bring you warmest greetings from the constituents and Apostles of Rule of Law and Constitutionalism in Nigeria.
“Sir, there is no other time in our recent history when executive lawlessness, characterized by flagrant disobedience to sacred orders of the court, has dominated the platform of public discussion and boggled the minds of Democrats more than the present time in which the government to which you act as it’s Chief Law Officer holds sway.
“The soul of this letter is donated by the large-scale impunity, confounding executive recklessness, flagrant abuse of power, inexplicable disobedience to sacred orders of our courts by persons and authorities currently exercising the plenitude and amplitude of powers of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the subsisting Amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which is supposedly binding on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is the unfortunate reality that this most sacred document [the Constitution], which ordinarily ought to be enjoying pervading bindingness on all government functionaries, is suffering untold humiliation and unprecedented desecration in the hands of different government agencies, authorities and functionaries of the government you are meant to advise that necessitated this urgent public letter to your person”.
According to him, “The Nigerian Court of Appeal in the memorable case of Balonwu v. Obi (2007) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1028) 488 at 538 Paras.C- E, 564-565 Paras.B – G, has this to say on disobedience to sacred Orders of Court;
“An order of court whether valid or not must be obeyed until it is set aside. An order of court must be obeyed as long as it is subsisting by all no matter how lowly or highly placed in society.
“An act of disobedience towards an order of a court can render any further action by those who have acted disobediently to sanctions from another court because no court would want its orders flouted. This is what the rule of law is all about hence the courts have always stressed the need for the obedience of court orders.
“Obeying court orders is both legal and moral obligation but you find that court orders are toyed with both by lawyers and the litigating public. Indeed for the politicians, the rule of law is non-existing until it suits their purpose, and it is only then it is observed to the letter.
“Without strict adherence to the rule of law, our nascent democracy and indeed our Constitution will only be worth the paper on which it is written. What makes a great country is an adherence to the rule of law. Even in hell, there is order and discipline.”
“What patently emerges from the concatenation of the instances of executive impunity and lawlessness most dispassionately surveyed above comes to the ineluctable conclusion that the present Federal Government of Nigeria, which you are saddled with the onerous duty to offer sound legal advice, has most unfortunately fallen into the cesspit of tyranny, lawlessness and impunity.
“Most of its security agencies (especially) have pathetically constituted themselves into the sinkhole of constitutionalism, Rule of Law and sacred human rights of great Nigerian Citizens.
“Sir, the case against you in all these well-carefully itemised instances of disobedience to Court Orders and Human Rights abuses by different State Actors, is that there is no iota of evidence on record that you have lifted a finger by advising the concerned agencies to uphold the dignity of our Constitution which is the foundation of our society [especially for them to comply with these Court Orders].
“No such recorded evidence exists anywhere and I challenge you to prove me wrong by producing one to Nigerians. What this comes to is that you are very comfortable to sit in your hallowed chambers and watch our Constitution thrown to the dogs and the dignity of our Courts basterdised.
“It equally means that you are very comfortable with the kind of decadent precedent that all these acts of outlawry would [in their aggregate] foist on our future democracy. These summations are indeed unanswerable since finding otherwise would certainly amount to eyewash”.