AGBADA CHANGETH NOT KHAKI UNIFORM By Ken Tadaferua

The philosopher, George Santayana enunciated the evergreen truism: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Many a Nigerian seem never to remember the past. It is a penchant that results in horrible consequences.

Nigeria’s political history is replete with coup-plotting army generals who exploit corruption and seeming frustration with court and legal processes as justification for truncating democracy and contriving legitimacy for dictatorships that they impose on the country. Again and again, each dictatorship delivers worse corruption, impunity and terrible governance. Yet, some citizens, blind to these lessons of history, applaud the disdainful truncating of democratic processes, till this day.

To put this in perspective, let’s look at excerpts of two speeches made 25 years apart, by army generals – Ibrahim Babangida on June 12, 1993 and Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, 2019. Get the full speeches and take note of the generals’ references to corruption and impatience with court processes. Yet, the irony is that they exploit contrived court rulings to murder democracy.  Read and ponder:

* Excerpts from the speech by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida on June 12, 1993 to annul the 1993 presidential election won by Chief MKO Abiola:

“It is against the foregoing background that the administration became highly concerned when these political conflicts and breaches were carried to the court. It must be acknowledged that the performance of the judiciary on this occasion was less than satisfactory. The judiciary has been the bastion of the hopes and liberties of our citizens.

“It was under this circumstance that the National Defence and Security Council decided that it is in the supreme interest of law and order, political stability and peace that the presidential election be annulled.”

 

“Therefore, when it became clear that the courts had become intimidated and subjected to the manipulation of the political process, and vested interests, then the entire political system was in clear danger. This administration could not continue to watch the various high courts carry on their long drawn out processes and contradictory decisions, while the nation slides into chaos.

“It was under this circumstance that the National Defence and Security Council decided that it is in the supreme interest of law and order, political stability and peace that the presidential election be annulled.”

* Excerpts from the speech by General Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, 2019 to suspend the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, head of one of the three arms of government:

 

“Instead, the nation has been treated to the sordid spectacle of a judicial game of wits in which the chief justice of Nigeria and his legal team have made nonsense of the efforts of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to hear the allegation on merit and conclude the trial as quickly as possible considering the nature of the times in which we live.

“It is against this background that I have received the Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal directing me to suspend the chief justice pending final determination of the cases against him. It also explains why I am not only complying immediately, but with some degree of relief for the battered sensibilities of ordinary Nigerians whose patience must have become severely over-taxed by these anomalies.

“In line with this administration’s avowed respect for the rule of law, I have wholeheartedly obeyed the Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal dated 23rd January 2019.

“Accordingly, I hereby suspend the Honourable Mr. Justice Walter Nkanu Samuel Onnoghen, GCON as the Chief Justice of Nigeria pending final determination of the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.”

Note that both the supposed court order which annulled the 1993 presidential election and Code of Conduct Tribunal order that suspended the CJN were not given in open court but were concoctions brewed and obtained under the sulfuric stench of judicial banditry. Worse, Danladi Umar, the CCT chairman who ordered the suspension, is himself facing corruption charges in court for receiving bribes.

It is a long, long road for Nigeria. The wolf in sheep clothing is still a wolf. The tin hat who removes khaki uniform for civilian agbada is still a tin hat.

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