THE presidency has defended President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments on the prosecution of Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser and Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, saying the president would not interfere in their trials. Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, said President Buhari had the right to hold an opinion on the matter, but he would not interfere with the process of the court.
Shehu, while clarifying the stance of the president described the presidential media chat as a “win win” occasion. “On the other hand, many understand his comments regarding the bail for Dasuki and Kanu to mean that government would use all avenues in the legal system to ensure that they are made to face trials. Under the constitution, no one can stop the courts from doing their jobs and it is matter the president keeps going back to given his much-cherished, newly-acquired democratic beliefs.
“On any given day in court, lawyers argue the pros and cons of given issues. As writers and commentators in the media, this is what we do always. The one who argues for bail and the one who argues against it are both entitled to their views. “It is harsh of anyone to deny the president an opinion on these matters when all of us are freely commenting upon them. Muhammadu Buhari is first a citizen before becoming a president. He is entitled to hold views as you and I are under the constitution.
“What will be wrong is when he tries to impose those views on the courts or on anyone, and this not anything he has done, and is will not do as the elected president of Nigeria. Talking about candour, it is very rare that when asked a question, the leader of a country will say I don’t have the answer, I will seek explanation from so, so or that I will instruct the Central Bank to issue a statement on that. This is why when he speaks; the public believes him because he does so with aura sincerity. This is something that helps public perception. A leader who knows it all by himself is not what a country needs. Since assuming power in May 2015, the president has sent very clear signals to the media of his non-interference with their freedom.
“As the leader of this large and diverse country, he had an important message for them he kept for the last: he wants the media to rise above speculations, do a lot of research and investigation to produce credible articles. In his view, they need to do this to ramp up their credibility. Should they fail to do this, they will risk dragging down their reputable institution from the high pedestal it occupies. The self-regulating arms of the industry will be doing a disservice to both the media and the nation if they ignore this freely-offered advice. From my own partisan, but certainly not jaundiced view, the first of the quarterly media chats was a win-win move. It served both sides well, with the media carrying out their constitutional duty of auditing the administration and the president having a useful platform to reach millions of citizens who harbour a love for him and a shared expectation of change.”
Indeed, many Nigerians have criticised the president on his comment, saying that his comments amounted to suppressing of the judicial system in the country. Augustine Alegeh, president, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, said government had a need to respect the rule of law. He said as a matter of fact, there was need for the government to be in the front burner in the respect for the rule of law. “Whoever is unhappy, including government with a pronouncement of the court, has the opportunity of still going back to that court, for the court’s decision to be vacated or appeal to a higher court, but not to undertake to ignore it or carrying on as though nothing has happened or that the court’s order is not binding. That is an unacceptable principle in the rule of law,” Alegeh said.
— Jan 5, 2016 @ 17:30 GMT