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Nigeria and the rule of law (2)

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Rule of law
Rule of law

By Patrick Dele Cole

SIMPLY put: many of these cases are not worth the paper they were written on but it is not the job of the participants in a transaction to point out the pitfalls for those representing Nigeria.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has had an inglorious history with regards to governors. Chief Ola Vincent, Dr. Clement Isong are perhaps two of the most qualified and celebrated of all the governors. Almost none of the others has any backbone.

This may be because they were recruited from the commercial banks in the country. Nothing should disqualify a governor of a central bank more than that he was a managing director, owner, chairman of a Nigerian commercial bank. The path of a CBN governor and that of a managing director of a bank are two parallel lines, never meant to meet.

Moreover, neither the Chief Justice nor the CBN governor serves at the pleasure of the President; so why are they so frightened of the executive? Why should the CBN carry on an MLR which is antithetical to the development of Nigeria?

I am told that this was to prop up the naira having failed to restructure the economy. Maybe that’s why there seems to be no relation between the 13 or so percent the banks receive for deposits in CBN and the almost 25- 35 per cent the banks charge if one tries to borrow from them? I know that the coronavirus has pushed the banks hard in the West; but before that the rates have been low in Switzerland, Japan. They have the negative rates rule. Now in the West the highest central bank lending rate is 0.25 per cent. When Sanusi was the CBN governor Nigeria lost several cases. He paid some, some he refused to pay claiming a moral responsibility which was irrelevant. He defied a presidential order which sought to carry out a court judgement.

Even so, I believe that there are fundamental issues with his dethronement and subsequent treatment. Under the colonial government and the government of the Northern Nigeria and because of the operation of indirect rule, an Emir who was dethroned left his emirate in exile. But we have a constitution in Nigeria which allows freedom of religion, movement, abode, etc.

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As a former Emir he may decide he does not want to live in Kano but that must be his decision not that of the Kano State government. The constitution trumps all laws: local, religious, etc. I know that Sultan Dasuki left Sokoto after his removal as Sultan and that Emir Sanusi (the grandfather of the late emir) did likewise in Kano. It does not matter. It is against the constitution. Nigerian governors are now fond of assembling chiefs, kings, emirs, etc. and tongue lashing them as if they were delinquent school boys because they gave them a staff of office, some small change and vehicles.

These exchanges are now of greater frequency: the governors’ language and behaviour more trenchant and utterly unmagisterial. That these men, the traditional chiefs who listen to this gibberish, had no backbone to look the governors in the eye and say no more, is a sad commentary on how debased they and their stools are and how the traditional rulers have failed to rescue their own prestige .

A man who eats like a pig cannot complain if he is treated like a pig. The governor of Rivers State the other day called the Rivers chiefs and tongue lashed them. They collected their envelops and walked away with their tails between their legs.

The judiciary has sold their prestige for a mess of pottage. A few example would suffice. The judiciary has been thoroughly politicised that I am afraid that it may now be unsalvageable. The purpose of an election in a democracy is to be free to choose who would be leaders and who will rule us.

There may be some wobbles along the way but nothing can trump the issue of election; I believe that the judiciary has so extended itself in the electoral process that it is now the elector.

This is no more than a continuum of the disregard which the executive, the legislature, the political process have for the judiciary which has now decided to be part of the election.

The fundamental point of the election in a democracy has been thrown overboard as the judiciary fishes into blind furrows that obviate the principle of democracy: admittedly the election is a contest between political parties which are mandated by law to choose their candidate according to their constitution.

So party A has not abided by all the provisions of its own rules in choosing its candidates.

Continues next week…

VANGUARD

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