by Kola Abayomi
Under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria has witnessed consistent decimations and daylight violations of the country’s Constitution, the fons et origo of all laws within it, with such brutish mien and affectionate indulgence that even the media, much less the populace, shudder at the audacity of the government’s penchant for rascality and lawlessness.
The reported freeze of Governor Ayo Fayose’s account on the orders of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, an institution directly under the command and control of the president, is not just the height of lawlessness which portents aggravated grave danger to the dangerously fractured national cohesion of the country, but also sets the tone for equally cataclysmic catastrophe in reprisals, given the rabid penchant of the regime for undermining the rule of law and other such impeachable offences.
It is instructive to note that the EFCC has also clearly and bluntly refused to attend to the litany of petitions before it against high ranking members of the Buhari government,
For the avoidance of doubt, the action against Governor Fayose is a violation of S. 308 of Nigeria’s constitution which provides inter alia:
“308. (1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, but subject to subsection (2) of this section
(a) no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against a person to whom this section applies during his period of office;
(b) a person to whom this section applies shall not be arrested or imprisoned during that period either in pursuance of the process of any court or otherwise….
(3) This section applies to a person holding the office of President or Vice-President, Governor or Deputy Governor; and the reference in this section to “period of office” is a reference to the period during which the person holding such office is required to perform the functions of the office.”
Unfortunately, regardless of these unambiguous provisions of the Nigerian constitution, the Buhari-led government, through federal Institutions, continues to violate the single most important document in the life of the nation, our very constitution, and thereby confirming insinuations that it may have jettisoned it for martial law by proxy.
This would not be the first time proxy attempts aimed at undermining the rule of law would be endorsed by the silence of Mr. President. For instance, investigating the personal finances and campaign funds of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State by harassing his friends and associates in an effort to indict him on trumped-up charges.
This executive lawlessness is against the extant provisions of the constitution is affront on the rule of law, especially when the federal government is blighted with scandals of bias, parochialism and partisanship in its avowed lame-duck fight against corruption.
It cannot be said how much longer the weakened frame of the polity can stomach these infractions on its very core.
But one thing is certain, something is bound to give, if the lawlessness persists. I cannot place it. But it’s a knowing. A knowing common among the vast majority.
Kola Abayomi is a legal practitioner based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.