By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Constitutional Lawyer And Human Rights Activist.
The new onslaught against the Judiciary signals great danger to our hard won democracy, freedom, liberties and human rights, independence of the Judiciary and the doctrine of separation of powers ably espoused in 1748 by the great French philosopher, Baron De Montesquieu. The last time I checked, we are supposed to be operating a constitutional democracy, not Military dictatorship or tyrannical absolutism. Governor Wike, a sitting governor, was almost shot dead by fully armed gun totting DSS and Police in Port-Harcourt, led by the Director and Commissioner of Police, respectively. His “offence” was that he came to rescue a Federal High Court Judge who was being abducted in Kamikaze Gestapo style. Other serving judges who would ordinarily respond to a mere phone call are being humiliated and rounded up in the ungodly wee hours of the night, like common criminals.
Are u surprised? I am not. I am rather surprised that some Nigerians are still surprised. Some of us warned, wrote, preached, talked, but, we were maximally ignored due to political partisanship. A leopard cannot change it’s spots. Welcome, full blown dictatorship and fascism that are now here with us. It started with political opponents and opposition. Some of us cried out. Many gloated with éclat and a sense of victory at opponents’ horiffic travails. Then, they moved against some very senior and well respected lawyers being rubbished. Some clapped. They said it was anti-corruption. We cried out. It extended quickly to the National Assembly, another different arm of government. Many hailed the Government as tough, no-nonsense and anti-corruption- inclined. Some of us warned. Now, the Judiciary, up to the very apex court of the land, the Supreme Court, has been targeted and is now being intimidated, humiliated and annexed. The incoming Chief Justice of Nigeria is said to be profiled. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Virtually all the judges are southerners. My prediction? The media, the 4th Estate of the realm, will be next. Read my lips. It reminds me of the immortal words of Martin Niemoller, a great German ant-Nazi theologian and Lutheran, who was convicted and fined 2000 marks for “abusing” the pulpit. He had witnessed the Jewish holocaust and atrocities during the second world war when they horrifically murdered, in their thousands, in gas chambers, Jews. He said something to the following effect: first they came for the Jews, I did nothing because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, I did nothing because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, I did nothing because I was not a Catholic. Then they came for the Socialists, I did nothing because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Marxists, I did nothing because I was not a Marxist. Then they came for me and it was too late as there was nobody left to speak for me. The earlier Nigerians rise up and speak against this latest onslaught on the Judiciary, the better for all of us and democracy. I am greatly troubled for my dear country. God bless Nigeria.
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