Buhari never disobeyed court orders as military ruler, says Falana

Buhari never disobeyed court orders as military ruler, says Falana

Activist-lawyer Mr Femi Falana (SAN) said Thursday that President Muhammadu Buhari always obeyed court orders during his tenure as Head of State from 31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985.

He explained that although military regimes were often arbitrary, neither Buhari nor his predecessors in military juntas toyed with court orders.

Falana wondered why in a democracy, the Buhari-led Federal Government is now allegedly disobeying judicial decisions.

The human rights lawyer said he would write to the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), to find out why.

Falana spoke in Lagos during a public lecture on the 30th anniversary of rights group, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR).

The lecture, with the theme, “Chronicling the struggle, identifying the way forward,” was delivered by professor of International Law and Jurisprudence, Akin Oyebode, while Prof. Julius Honvhere, of the Ford Foundation, was the keynote speaker.

Falana, the Chairman of the CDHR Board of Trustees, noted that respect for human rights in the country had appreciated in the last 30 years.

CDHR, he explained, started in 1989 in the living room of the late Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti, where activists gathered to strategise for the release of Mr Femi Aborishade, who was then detained by the military junta.

“Thirty years ago, it would have been impossible to assemble to discuss human rights in our country. Notwithstanding that we are currently having what you might call rickety democracy, there are gains, all the struggles of over 30 years, that we must celebrate today,” Falana said.

The lawyer, however, said he was worried about how court orders were being disobeyed by the Federal Government.

He said, “I just remember this morning trying to write a letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation and I find, very painfully, that whereas the Buhari/Idiagbon regime complied with all court orders for the release of those who were held illegally under the state security detention of persons Decree No 2 of 1984, we cannot say the same today under a democratic government.

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“If you get a copy of Gani Fawehinmi’s book on Nigerian law on habeas corpus, all the judgments of our courts during the military dictatorship of Gowon up to the Buhari/Idiagbon regime, all the cases are documented in that book; not on a single occasion did the military regimes detain anybody who had been ordered to be released by the court. They could manipulate; they could filibuster, but ultimately they got everybody released.”

In his lecture, Oyebode criticised the 1999 Constitution, which he said lacked legitimacy because the Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar regime did not call for the input of the citizens.

“The general contempt held by the dictators everywhere for the people informed the attitude of the junta towards the right of the Nigerian people to partake in the making of the most important law governing their lives,” the don said.

Oyebode said for Nigeria to become a liberal democratic society, the people must be ready to put the government on its toes “so that an end is speedily brought to impunity.”

In his remarks, the National President of CDHR, Mr Malachy Ugwummadu, described the organisation’s journey in the last 30 years as “eventful; a mix bag but clearly with huge prospects and possibilities of fulfillment.”

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