Buhari govt exhibiting ‘unbridled arrogance’ in continued detention of El-zakzaky, Dasuki — Group

An advocacy group, Access to Justice, has said the Nigerian Presidency’s excuse for its continued detention of Ibraheem El-zakzaky and Sambo Dasuki in spite of court rulings ordering their release “strikes a hard blow at the principle of separation of powers.”

Adenike Aiyedun, deputy director of the group, said Thursday that the government’s action would make it difficult for the courts to play their role as the last hope of the common man.

“Where people are at any risk and need to be protected, they normally request for such protection, and responsible governments avail their citizens of the assistance of security personnel,” said Ms. Aiyedun.

Mr. El-zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, and Mr. Sambo Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser, have been in detention for more than one year.

On Tuesday, Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President, said Mr. El-zakzaky was still in “protective custody” for his own safety.

As for Mr. Dasuki, the president’s aide said the former NSA was still being investigated for other allegations and could not be set free yet.

Access to Justice expressed dismay at Mr. Shehu’s claims.

“As a point of departure, the executive branch of government has no power or authority to second-guess the judgments of competent courts or the effect of their orders, in order to disobey the courts or deny the adjudicated rights of Nigerians,” Ms. Aiyedun said.

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“Where the executive arrogates to itself a general right to sit, as a court of appeal over judgments and orders of constitutionally established courts, it clearly makes courts of law irrelevant in protecting the rights of citizens and indirectly usurps the powers and functions of the judicial branch of government.

“This sabotages the whole idea of a constitutional democracy and the rule of law, as it denies courts their legitimate role, as protectors of the rights of citizens.

“Without this protection, citizens remain completely at the mercy of government, and their rights in perpetual jeopardy. Hence, we find the defence by the Federal Government of Nigeria, to be completely self-serving, disingenuous and audacious.”

The group further said it was “obnoxious and irresponsible” for the government to claim it was detaining a citizen in his best interest when the same person had utilized every means available to oppose the incarceration.

“Where people are at any risk and need to be protected, they normally request for such protection, and responsible governments avail their citizens of the assistance of security personnel,” the group said.

“It is also untenable to say that government plans at some point in the future to charge citizens for crimes, and without judicial authorization, keep crime suspects in custody in disobedience of court orders. This grievously offends the rule of law.

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“Finally, it appears that the Buhari administration which promised to uphold the Constitution – has upstaged the Constitution and exhibited, unbridled arrogance to its provisions within the stated context.

“We would hereby like to remind the government of the day that it may someday be haunted by the precedent that it is now setting, as it is impossible to fight impunity, with a higher level of impunity.”

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