- Professor Wole Soyinka says Buhari has given advance warning about what is to come, with Buhari's comment about how national interest can supersede the rule of law
- He said Nigerians have cause to be thankful for the advance warning because many rulers would simply proceed to degrade the authority of the law
- Soyinka warned the president that the rule of law will always outlast subverters, no matter how powerful they seem to be
President Muhammadu Buhari has been berated by Professor Wole Soyinka, for saying that rule of law can be suspended in the interest of national security.
The Nobel laureate, in a statement titled ‘Buhari’s Pernicious Doctrine’, expressed thankfulness that Nigerians were given advance warning of what is to come, Punch reports.
NAIJ.com gathers that Soyinka recalled how journalists were locked up, under the guise of ‘national security,’ during Buhari’s military rule.
He said: “Here we go again! At his first coming, it was ‘I intend to tamper with Freedom of the Press’, and Buhari did proceed to suit action to the words, sending two journalists — Irabor and Thompson — to prison as a reward for their professional integrity.
“Now, a vague, vaporous, but commodious concept dubbed ‘national interest’ is being trotted out as alibi for flouting the decisions of the Nigerian judiciary.
“President Buhari has obviously given deep thought to his travails under a military dictatorship, and concluded that his incarceration was also in the ‘national interest’.
“The timing is perfect, and we have cause to be thankful for the advance warning, since not all rulers actually make a declaration of intent, but simply proceed to degrade the authority of the law as part of the routine business of governance.”
Soyinka urged the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to react soundly to Buhari’s ominous statement; as he pointed out that it was made in the presence of lawyers.
He added: “We have been there before. It should be of mere interest, not despondency that this latest proclamation of dictatorial recidivism has also been made before an assembly of officers of the law, the Nigerian Bar Association. We expect a robust response from the NBA as part of its conclusions.
“There is no short cut to democracy. The history of law, even where uncodified, is as old as humanity. Numerous rulers have tried again and again to annul that institution. Sometimes, they appear to succeed, but in the end, they pay heavy forfeit.
"So does society. The rule of law, however, outlasts all subverters, however seemingly powerful. If the consequences for society in defence of the rule of law were not so costly, any new attempt would be merely banal and boring, hardly deserving of attention. We know, historically, where it will all end.”
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com previously reported that Project-2019 (P2019), a civil society organisation on Thursday, August 30, said that President Muhammadu Buhari‘s statement on national interest and the rule of law is legal and constitutional.
Wale Ogunade, convener of the group, said that President Buhari ‘s statement was a restatement of the provisions of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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