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Presidential emergency powers legitimization is another time-bomb


Intersociety kicked against recent Buhari’s request for legitimization of emergency powers which it magisterially and tyrannically arrogated to itself

The attention of the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) is again drawn to a recent presidential request for legitimization of emergency powers which it magisterially and tyrannically arrogated to itself since September 2015. 

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has since September 2015 castrated the 1999 Constitution and illegally arrogated sweeping extra constitutional powers to itself in the governance of the country; upon which it now seeks for legislative legitimization through retroactive legislation or legislative cementation by way of executive sponsored bill. 

Our advocacy attention to latest executive lawlessness was drawn by the authorities of the Trent Online News. 

Since the inception of Gen Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on 29th May 2015, time-bombs abound and the instant case is one of them.

We wish to remind all Nigerians and members of the international community that Major General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) had on 31st day of December 1983 violently unseated or overthrew the democratically elected government of Alhaji Aliyu Shehu Shagari and swiftly suspended the 1979 Constitution through enactment of emergency decrees, leading to arrogation to himself of motley of emergency powers and other extra constitutional responsibilities. 

To ensure this, the 1979 Constitution particularly its hallowed principles of Fundamental Human Rights and Rule of Law were wickedly suspended. 

Some of the emergency and extra constitutional powers so wickedly arrogated were Decree 2 of 1984 (indiscriminate long detention of persons without trial) and Decree 4 of 1984 (castration of media freedom and right to freedom of expression). 

Following this, what was left as “the 1979 Constitution of the Military Regime” was nothing but a tissue paper.

As if that was not enough, barely three months into the Buhari’s civilian Presidency in August 2015, one of Gen Muhammadu Buhari’s staunchest allies, Dr. Yakubu Lame; a former Minister of Police Affair, went public and called for emergency powers and other extra constitutional measures for President Muhammadu Buhari for “speedy fight against corruption”. 

Despite wide condemnations trailing Dr. Yakubu Lame including strong suspicions and accusations that his call was “a voice of Jacob and a hand of Esau” (i.e. influenced by the Presidency); the Buhari administration went on rampage and executively abandoned and suppressed fundamental provisions of the 1999 Constitution particularly the Chapter Four and constitutional liberties; the rule of law principles and key provisions of the Chapter Two (i.e. Federal Character Principle). 

He also governed the country for 150 days without a cabinet or Federal Executive Council. The advocacy position taken then by Intersociety is contained in this LINK.

Since then, it has been one form of gross violation of the fundamental provision of the constitution or the other till date. 

Under current Buhari’s Presidency, citizens are arrested with reckless abandon and thrown into long detention without trial or even charge, with many of them detained for over 90 days, which is unknown to the 1999 Constitution. 

Conducts clearly unknown to the Constitution are presidentially carried out for long before resorting to retroactive legislation for the purpose of their legitimization. 

For instance, not minding that there is no Act of National Assembly is place backing the so called “compulsory National Grazing and Grazing Reserves for Fulani Nomads in Nigeria”, yet the Presidency has since gone ahead in compelling States to cede lands among others.

Further, despite the clear provisions of Sections 1 (supremacy of the Constitution), 10 (secularity of Nigeria and non-State religion), 9 (legislative process of amending the 1999 Constitution), 14(3) (geopolitical balance in federal appointments and allocation of federal resources) and Chapter Four (constitutional liberties) of the 1999 Constitution, the Buhari administration has violated them with reckless abandon and rabid impunity. 

That is to say that it has also for so long subjected the sacred provisions of the 1999 Constitution to irreparable mockery and damnation. 

The Administration has dangerously and riotously become an extra constitutional administrator of Nigeria since September 2015. 

What it therefore seeks in the name of “executive emergency powers bill”, is to legitimize what it has already started. 

That is to say that it does not matter to the Buhari Presidency whether its wicked and unpopular bill sails through legislatively because it only seeks for its legitimization through retroactive legislation.

For the purpose of putting the records straight, we have critically and clinically studied all reasons and arguments made by the Presidency upon which it is seeking for “emergency presidential powers” whether for economic reasons or otherwise and have come to empirical conclusion that the reasons and arguments are dictatorial, tyrannical, undemocratic and grossly unconstitutional. 

Whatever that bedevils Nigeria governance wise under the Buhari administration, is self-invited and does not require the so called “emergency presidential powers” as a solution.

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