The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Friday rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment that national security was superior to rule of law. The President had made the comment while declaring open the 58th Annual General Conference of the NBA.
The conference ended on Friday, with the inauguration of NBA new President, Mr. Paul Usoro, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and other newly elected national officers of the association. He took over from the 29th President of the association Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN). In a communiqué, signed by its immediate past President and the General Secretary, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), and Mr. Abiola Olagunju, respectively, NBA demanded that the government and the citizenry must always obey court order.
The communique read in part, “The conference completely rejects the presidential statement subordinating the rule of law to national security. The NBA restates that the rule of law is central to a democracy and any national security concerns by the government must be managed within the perimeters and parameters of the rule of law. “As a corollary, conference frowns upon the present growing trend whereby government decides on which court orders to obey.
“The court has exclusive duty under a democratic dispensation to interpret the Constitution and other laws, and government and the citizenry must comply with court orders at all times until set aside.” The communique also addressed various topical national issues bordering on the economy and the judiciary.
It stated, “The conference emphatically objects to the issuance of the Executive Orders in respect to matters already in court and observes that any such order is a breach of the principle of separation of powers; and counsels that Executive Orders be issued for good governance and to manage operations of government, and not to encroach or usurp upon the constitutional powers of other arms of government, lest Executive Orders become attempts at decree-making.”
The NBA called for adequate funding and improved welfare for police personnel, saying serious consideration should be given to calls for state police, but with safeguards to prevent abuse. It also enjoined government to ensure free and fair electoral processes.