Opinion

From the archive: Jonathan’s diary of impunity

© Adeolu C. Adekunle

President Jonathan and his henchmen must have misconstrued or intentionally feigned ignorance as usual, to the pious outcry that greeted the CBN Governor’s stunning revelation. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s suspension is just another show of impunity that might be unjustly confined to the bin of history, an act customary to Nigerian presidents. “Ignore the message, hunt down the messenger” has been a popular strategy since Dr. Jonathan assumed office.

Let’s take a ride to August 2011, when the rift between Justice Ayoola Salami and Justice Aloysius Kastina-Alu came under the zoom lens of the media. Justice Salami was said to have alleged the former Attorney-General of the Federation of meddling in the adjudication of the 2007 gubernatorial election in Sokoto State, an election won by Gov. Wamako of PDP but disputed by Alhaji Maigari of the DPP. He [Kastina-Alu] was alleged to have told Justice Salami to dissolve the Court of Appeal Panel handling the case based on the discovery that panel’s judgment had been leaked.

Justice Salami’s blatant refusal to do as told, which he considered contrary to the ethics of his profession, made him a cancer that must be removed at all cost. His action earned him a promotion to the Supreme Court; the said elevation was never expected until the expiration of his tenure as the President of the Appeal Court. Again, he [Salami] rejected it and headed to the court to stop it. You are all well equipped with the brouhaha that followed.

While the media was unusually kept busy, Mr. President in his most ludicrous disposition just dropped the bomb shell by arbitrarily suspending Justice Salami without recourse to the constitution. Soon the media was agog and section 238 (4) of the 1999 constitution and Third Schedule 1, section 21(b) became a memory verse. I recall vividly, that this formed the basis for condemnation of the President’s action by observers and pundits, and the subsequent barrage of questions that till tomorrow remain unanswered. That President Jonathan held the judiciary in contempt is a case left for posterity to judge. The messenger was successfully dealt with while the message received a state burial under pricy carpet.

The constitution’s weak posture to reprove public office holders who are found culpable of wrong-doings and Nigerians’ timid resolve to demand for justice in the face of gross abuse of power and corruption, have no doubt resulted to further acts of impunity. It is rather unfortunate that our retard economy is at the receiving end this time.

If truly the CBN Acts is statutory enough and indeed requires a two-third majority of the Upper Chamber to remove a serving CBN Governor, which no one will ever doubt its efficacy, then the reckless abuse of the constitution without careful consideration of its consequences by the President is unacceptable. In a sane country, such arbitrary act would have seen him out of office and in a short while landed him in prison. The President must be attuned with the happenings around the world and bear in mind in the most conscious manner the numerous world leaders who today are serving term in various prisons for offences and crimes committed while in power. No offense committed against the government and the masses go unpunished any more. Ivane Merabishvili, a former Georgian Prime Minister is the most recent scapegoat and deterrent to government official who will not desist from abuse of power. He should never make the mistake that Nigeria hasn’t gotten to that stage yet. It would someday; and that ‘someday’ might just be now!

For this and many other abuses, I call on President Jonathan to relinquish power forthwith, for behaving in a way that is disrespectable and morally unbefitting. Should this act of impunity continue unabated by the President as it is constantly finding its way to history? Upholding the constitution may soon become a daunting task. Offenders will have fertile grounds of precedence to rely on.

PS: Mr. President Sir, Nigerians are still very keen on the whereabouts of the NNPC billion dollars. Your diversion (suspension of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi) is a bad trick and the people who so advised you to embark on such defacing path should hide their faces in their palms.

Checking through the CBN Acts, there is no dot that recommends the suspension of a serving CBN governor. Mr. President, please tell us where you manufactured your enabling law to suspend Sanusi. Need I remind you sir, absolute power is never an attribute of democracy!

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