The Peoples Democratic Party has told President Muhammadu Buhari that his statement that the rule of law will be subject to national interest is strange to Nigeria’s laws and therefore unacceptable.
The President had said while addressing participants at the opening of the Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference in Abuja that the rights of persons allegedly responsible for actions threatening national security and public interest must take second place for the greater good of the society.
Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary had said in a statement in Abuja on Monday that the PDP was ready to rally Nigerians to reject every attempt by President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress to introduce the alleged long forgotten trappings of military dictatorship into Nigeria’s democratic rule.
“The party further states that it will not stop at anything legitimate to ensure that the International Criminal Court holds President Buhari responsible for violations of the rule of law and criminal abuse of human rights committed under his rule in the last three years.
“It is instructive to note that contrary to claims by Mr President, there is no pronouncement by the Supreme Court that subjugates constitutional rule of law and rights of citizens to the whims, caprices and dictatorial impulses of any President.
“Our national interest is thoroughly embedded, protected, expressed and enforced only under the rule of law as provided by our constitution and there is no how Nigerians can allow an individual to superimpose or override the Constitution with his personal whims and impulses.”
Ologbondiyan said the statement by the President was a pattern that he said was characteristic of known dictators all over the world, which he said was expressed in the Executive Order 6, signed by President Buhari recently.
“President Buhari should therefore be made to answer for the litany of human rights violations in Nigeria, including documented disobedience to court orders, extra-judicial and arbitrary executions, unlawful arrests and political detentions, killing of persons in custody, torture and excessive use of force by security forces on innocent citizens, destruction of property, restriction of free speech, press, official corruption and lack of accountability as detailed in report by various international bodies, including Transparency International, Amnesty International and the US Department of State.
“This is in addition to the quest to forcefully remove the leadership of the National Assembly, the blockade of the National Assembly and the siege to the official residences of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President by Presidency controlled-security forces.”
He urged Nigerians, particularly the judiciary and the Nigeria Bar Association to speak out against what he described as a direct assault on the nation’s democracy.
Similarly, a former minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Kabiru Turaki, on Monday faulted the statement by President Buhari that the principle of rule of law must be subject to the supremacy of national interest.
Turaki, a presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, described Buhari’s position as unacceptable as the rights protected by the Nigerian constitution remained paramount in a democracy and not subject to the sentiments of a person or group of individuals.
The former minister, who spoke in Benin, Edo State, shortly after meeting with delegates of the PDP, said, “What we operate in Nigeria today is a constitutional democracy and we have a constitution and the constitution is the ground norm and what is supposed to govern the activities, actions of government and, indeed, principal officers in the government.
“So, a situation whereby anybody that is supposedly elected, and no matter the office that person had been elected into, will stand up and look at Nigerians and say that the rights as recognised and protected by the Constitution would be subject to certain sentimental consideration by any other person is highly unacceptable.
“It is a wrong view, it is a wrong notion, it is unconstitutional and certainly not something that will be acceptable to us. The constitution recognises certain classes of rights, which have been grouped as fundamental, and there are certain rights also, which you may call economic rights, which are not ordinarily enforceable.”
Also speaking, the State Chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Orbih, said that Buhari’s comment deserved condemnation as it could lead to a dictatorial system of government.
Orbih said, “We believe that the President’s open declaration is the closest to open self-transformation to dictatorship and that is not acceptable to us. We believe in democracy and all lovers of democracy must fight the present All Progressives Congress government and let us get our democracy back on track.”