A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana SAN, has stated that President Muhammadu Buhari complied with all court orders when he was a military head but wondered why the President has persistently refused to do so in a democratic government.
The rights activist spoke yesterday during a public lecture on the 30th anniversary of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, in Lagos, pointing out that during Buhari’s reign as a military head complied with court orders but has failed to do so now.
“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 perpersoncree No 2 of 1984, we cannot say the same today under a democratic government.
“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.”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, however, noted that much progress has been made in the struggle for the respect of human rights in the country, saying “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,” he said.