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SERAP drags Buhari to UN for disobeying court judgments

SERAP drags Buhari to UN for disobeying court judgments
May 14
04:52 2018

Among others, SERAP noted that the Federal Government had so far refused to obey the court judgment ordering the release of the leader of the Shi’ite movement, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenatu, who have been in military detention since December 2015.

It noted also that despite a court judgment, a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), was still being detained in prison custody.

Besides these, SERAP noted that it had got two different judgments against the Federal Government, which the Buhari administration had continued to disobey.

It said, “Other court orders that the government continue to disobey include: the ECOWAS court judgment ordering the Nigerian authorities to provide free and quality education to all Nigerian children without discrimination; the rulings by the Nigerian courts ordering the authorities to establish education banks to assist poor students to obtain loans to pursue tertiary education and the restoration of people’s bank to give loans without collateral to underprivileged citizens.

“At least two of the court rulings SERAP recently obtained from the Federal High Court have been disobeyed by the Nigerian authorities. The first involves a case with suit number FHC/IKJ/CS/248/2011 delivered in March 2016 where Justice Mohammed Idris ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria to widely publish details on the spending of recovered stolen funds by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999.

“The details ordered to be published by the court include: detailed information on the total amount of recovered stolen public assets that have so far been recovered by Nigeria; the amount that has been spent from the recovered stolen public assets and the objects of such spending; and the details of projects on which recovered stolen public assets were spent.

“The second court judgment involves a case with suit number FHC/CS/964/2016 delivered in July 2017 where Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari ordered the government to tell Nigerians the circumstances under which allegedly recovered stolen assets were recovered, as well as the exact amount of funds recovered from each public official.

“However, the Nigerian authorities would seem to have only partially obeyed the court orders in this case. The authorities are not known to have appealed any of these court judgments and rulings.

“Under both the Nigerian constitution and international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, everyone is entitled to the right to an effective remedy, and to seek justice in courts in cases of violations of human rights.”

SERAP warned that continued disobedience of court judgments and rulings would undermine “the crucial role of the judiciary in combating corruption and obstruct access to justice, contrary to international standards, including Article 11 of the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”

In an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday, the Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr. Debo Adeniran, shared in SERAP’s concern, particularly as regards El-Zakzaky.

Adeniran said, “It is not right for the Federal Government to disobey court orders even if it is a drunken judge that delivered the judgment, it should be obeyed. Once a court gives a judgment, if it is not immediately appealed and there is no stay of execution of the judgment, there is no reason for the government to disobey it.

“They claim to be keeping El-Zakzaky in protective custody, but if he says he does not need government’s protection, it is uncharitable for them to continue to keep him.”

Also, a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), on Sunday, described the effort by SERAP to institute a case against the Federal Government at the United Nations as commendable.

Falana who spoke with one of our correspondents on the telephone, secured the yet-to-be-obeyed December 2, 2016 judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja ordering the release of El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeinab, from the custody of the DSS.

He noted that it was embarrassing that a government that promised to end impunity and with at least 12 of its cabinet members being lawyers, including two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, in the persons of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, could be treating court orders with “absolute disdain.”

While urging the Nigerian Bar Association to take up the challenge of fighting against the ugly trend, he recalled that a former NBA President, the late Alao Aka-Bashorun, led lawyers to boycott courts to protest against the then military regime’s flouting of court orders.

He said, “It is a very commendable effort. Since the government has shown unprecedented contempt for our courts, the United Nations will have to intervene to remind the government of its obligation to operate under the rule of law.

“It is particularly embarrassing that the government that promised to end impunity would treat valid and subsisting court orders with absolute disdain.

“It is more embarrassing that there are no fewer than 12 lawyers, including the Vice-President and the Attorney-General of the Federation, who are Senior Advocates of Nigeria, in the government. It means two of the cabinet members are SANs.

“I do hope that the Nigerian Bar Association would take up the challenge. Under a military dictator, Nigerian lawyers, under the leadership of the late Comrade Alao Aka-Bashorun of blessed memory, boycotted courts to protest against government’s disobedience of court orders.”

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