By Owei Lakemfa
The raging arguments today include whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari should have obeyed the Supreme Court ruling on the continued use of the old currencies.
One argument is that it was the Federal Government that was sued, not the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. But our forebears have a wise saying: the slave master owns the slave. It is illogical that the President who appoints the CBN Governor and gives the bank directives can be restrained by the Supreme Court but the appendage says it is not affected. It is simply a case of impunity, and anyone who has followed Buhari’s trajectory knows that he does not feel constrained by any judicial pronouncement, law or constitution; he is the state. So, whatever Buhari says or does, what is expected of the populace is to raise their two hands in the air, stamp their right feet and shout: ‘Tuale Baba!’ in the street imitation of the military salute to power.
Those who sold Nigerians the dummy that the former military dictator had reformed to be a democrat, are mainly those wailing today that they want to rescue the country from his stifling grip. It may be too late; if you want to shape the iroko tree, you start doing so from the nursery stage not when it has become a mighty tree. At that stage, it would have become wild.
In pacifying Buhari, they allowed him grow into a power superior to the party so much that at a time, he dissolved all party structures and deregistered all members. The charade continued with Buhari being registered as the first and only member of the party by people who, having been de-registered, were not members of the party.
The wailing leaders of the APC have in the past seven years been in this country when the Buhari government in the tradition of fascist regimes, at midnight, invaded the homes of judges, including Justices of the Supreme Court, refused to obey court orders, including that on Ibrahim Zak-Zaky which has persisted since 2015, and pointedly violated the Federal Character principles of the Constitution.
Some of the APC chieftains, including the governors who have dragged the Buhari government to court, only began to stir when he attempted to imposed a presidential candidate on the party. They had not taken seriously Buhari’s inaugural declaration that he is for everybody and for nobody. Now they are awoken to the fact that Buhari has de-marketed their party and might actually be a liability in this week’s general election.
As it stands, it appears the two strongest forces holding the APC at both ends are Buhari and Bola Tinubu with one trying to upturn the cart and the other striving to stay it. The presidential election is just five days away; but in politics, that is a long distance to go during which anything can happen.
It appears that the biggest beneficiary in the unravelling of the APC is the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which might be the reason it is backing Buhari in the currency change fiasco. Admittedly, the PDP in its fight with the G5 Governors had shot itself in the foot, but with crutches, it might now simply limp to victory.
So, many of those arguing for or against Buhari obeying the Supreme Court ruling on the currency change are doing so for political expediency. They know that what is going on is not about the rule of law or sanctity of the Supreme Court, but mere politics. The chessboard is politics. The Supreme Court is a pawn and the players are the politicians across party lines. Either way, the poor whose monies are trapped in the banks, whose families are suffering, lose.
The Supreme Court has become an highly compromised institution where truth is hard to find and justice is as scarce as the new currency. It is a place that can declare a man, a woman, and make a ruling that henceforth, the woman, is a man, and then expect compliance.
The Court has climbed from its height in 2007 when it declared that its judgment will be based on the justice of a case not its technicalities, to the murky waters in which it is usurping the right of the electorate by selecting candidates and winners. At its lowest ebb, the Court appointed Hope Uzodimma, the APC candidate who came fourth in the Imo State gubernatorial elections, as governor. This is why Uzodimma became known as the ‘Supreme Court Governor’ and why there is no immediate hope the state can return to peace.
In its latest gambits, the supreme of all the courts in Nigeria appointed Senators Godswill Akpabio and Ahmed Ibrahim Lawal as senatorial candidates of the APC. In the first place, both politicians were not eligible to run for the APC senatorial primaries because they were in the presidential primaries.
In the last one week, three things have further jolted me about the Supreme Court. First, is the revelation by former Cross River Governor, Donald Duke, last Wednesday, that some Justices of the Supreme Court were denied visas by the United States. The second, is the Court reacting to criticism of their judgments on the senatorial tickets by a Nigerian professor. Do the Justices not realise that they sit in public and that their decisions are subject to public scrutiny?
The third is that the statement from the Supreme Court was a disgraceful one in terms of construction, presentation, employment of bombastic sentences, civility and lack of decorum. It also reduced the Supreme Court from its Olympian heights to the putrid gutters of personalised attacks on a Nigerian Professor.
The statement described the Professor as “flagrantly displaying ignorance and infantilism… In an ineptly scripted toxic article (displaying) an abysmal pit of irredeemable ignorance by venting convoluted anger on Supreme Court Justices to please his paymasters.”
The tirade went on: “Even in a state of emotional disequilibrium, we should be reasonable enough to make a good choice of decent words, as every word employed by the pen-happy (Professor) only succeeded in portraying the kind of vacuum that sign-posts all that he has as academic accomplishment.”
The Supreme Court statement further attacked the academic as a “character that has an odious reputation for being a serial verbal assailant … inflicting upon himself a mood of bellicose jingoism which does not represent a mark of honour for any discerning mind or academic, the world over.”
Obviously, Dr. Festus Akande, the Supreme Court Director of Press and Information who issued this unfortunate statement, is not fit to hold such a high position. But is this obvious to the wise Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria?
The court shall rise!