Emir of Gunmi, Zamfara State and former Chief Judge, Justice Hassan Lawal Gunmi, has highlighted the disrespect for rule of law and not non-obedience to court orders as some of the factors threatening Nigeria’s democratic stability.
The Emir stated this, in Sokoto, on Saturday, while speaking as a Guest Speaker at the annual lecture and award of the Barewa Old Boys Association (BOBA), held at the Umaru Shinkafi Polytechnic, Sokoto.
Speaking on the theme: ‘The challenges of democracy to the Judiciary: The Nigerian Perspectives’, the Emir also accused the Nigerian politicians as not better than the military rulers based on their attitude and corrupt ways.
He pointed out that the constitution clearly stated the power of the judiciary over the legislature, whereas, there is no constitutional provision giving to the judiciary as a watchdog over the Executive.
According to him, “The Executive cannot play the role of both the accuser and that of the judge at the same time. It is an aberration in a democracy. National security cannot take precedence over the rule of law, rather, it should be guided by the rule of law.
“Orders of Court are disobeyed at will in the name of fighting corruption. No one institution, no matter how highly placed, should flout the laws of the land, not even under the guise of fighting corruption. Refusing to obey an order of court is another form of corruption in itself.”
The retired judge further stated that, “Any democracy where the Executive tries to intimidate and harass the Legislature and/or the Judiciary into doing its bidding is a democracy under threat.
“In the same vein, it is not right in a democracy for the National Assembly to make governance difficult for the Executive for pecuniary reasons.”
The Emir also listed non-compliance with electoral regulations by parties, hijack of electoral process by godfathers and dwindling confidence in the justice system, as part of the experiences under Nigeria’s democratic dispensation.
On his part, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), however, disagreed with the Emir’s submissions while outlining some of the achievements of the present Federal Government.
He listed the employment of 500,000 Nigerians under an social intervention programmme known as Npower as well as the clearance of pensions owed by the previous Administration, like NITEL, RAILWAY, Nigerian Airways as some of such achievements.
Osinbajo also extolled the quality leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for the respect given to the National Assembly in its internal affairs, describing it as the most transparent in the history of Nigeria.
He accused the previous administrations under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of impunity and lack of respect for rule of law throughout the 16 years rule.
He, however, disclosed that there is no state in the country where there is no project either completed or ongoing. Osinbajo also maintained that this administration has stopped grand corruption where money could easily be taken from the treasury as witnessed in the immediate past administration.
In his speech, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, commended the Guest Speaker for delivering a speech on good governance and judiciary.
He challenged the leaders to address the problems of the country with the fear of God and expressed his opinion that both Vice President and the Emir were both his senior in the legal profession and will always sort things out without rancour.
In his remarks, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, praised the organisers of the event for chosen such topic at this point Nigerians are preparing for the general election.