Legal luminary and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has flayed President Muhammadu Buhari for saying that national security takes precedence over the rule of law, saying that the development can lead to a state of anarchy in the country.
Falana stated this in Lagos on Wednesday while delivering the 19th Mike Okonkwo annual lecture titled ‘Nigeria’s Unity: Matters Arising’ to mark the 73rd birthday of Bishop Mike Okonkwo of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission at Muson Centre, Lagos.
According to the legal icon, it is not the government but the court that should define national security or else the country is heading towards a state of anarchy.
He said, “The problem of the rule of law in Nigeria has to do with our lawyers. Today, many court orders are being disobeyed and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is not bothered. We are operating distorted federalism in which every state is independent of the Federal Government”.
Falana also urged the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN) to prosecute all killers of citizens of Nigeria, adding that Nigerians must get lawyers to be responsible if criminality must be stopped in the country.
He also urged state governors to fight for their freedom, stressing that he is in support of state policing. He said if a new Nigeria must emerge, then there must be community policing.
The senior advocate said, “Nigeria is not a united country and we can’t have a unity of the oppressor and the oppressed, the elite do not fight for the people and professional bodies are now run on the basis of ethnicity”.
Falana said before Nigeria can have peace, the issue of collective wealth must be addressed and unless distribution of the country’s wealth is revisited, there can be no unity.
In addressing the ongoing debate on restructuring, Falana said restructuring without the equitable redistribution of the Commonwealth will not promote unity or political stability.
He said, “If the government genuinely wants to fight corruption, it has to review the wages of workers, ensure prompt payment of salaries and pension. Furthermore, the government should implement other welfare laws and institutionalise the rule of law and respect the human rights if citizens “.
Falana also warned religious bodies to stop identifying the religious denomination of citizens who are attacked or killed either by law enforcement officials or criminal elements.
“In other words, Nigerians should henceforth condemn the killing of any citizen or any alien living in our midst and demand that justice be done”, he added.
Chairman of the event, Chief John Nwodo, blamed the youth for not actively participating in politics, saying the past leaders came into politics in their 20s and 30s. He added that youths need proper mentoring by parents in order to take their rightful positions in governance.
Lagos State Governor Akinwumi Ambode, who was represented by His Deputy, Dr. Idiat Adebule, stressed the importance of detribalised citizens on the development of the country, saying that if Nigeria must grow, then the importance of unity cannot be eroded or overemphasised.
The convener and celebrant, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, said Nigerians must divorce their minds from tribe when it comes to national issues, adding that there should be no party affiliation or religion and that the President must be President for all.
Highlight of the event was the presentation of prizes to winners of the 15th Mike Okonkwo National Essay competition for Senior Secondary School students.