Abubakar Atiku and the Rule of Law

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

“The constitution is bigger than all of us…A man is not a criminal because the President…says so….a criminal is not a saint because the President so announces” (Sonala Olumhense).

The functions of law, according to Robert Carp and Ronald Stidham, is to protect individual liberties; provide for the general welfare of the people ; protect individuals and property;provide order and predictability ; and resolve disputes. The latter is germane here. “Of all the known methods of redressing grievances and settling disputes — pitched battle, rioting, dueling, mediating, flipping a coin, and suing — only the latter has steadily won the day.” And even in a country like Nigeria where political opponents and other aggrieved citizens commonly take the law into their hands, we have seen that there are better and more effective ways of settling disputes — the judicial method. Or, as some wise Nigerians have termed it — Atikulating the law.

There are several lessons to be learnt about the Atiku method, amongst which are that the law may be an ass, it may be slow, and it may be cumbersome, still, it is a better recourse and far better than jungle-justice; and also, no man — no matter how highly placed he may be — is ever and should never be above the law. And so I salute Vice-President Abubakar Atiku. I doff my hat to him for sticking to the rule of law. His actions are epoch making, precedent setting. Love him, hate him or be indifferent, it is difficult not to acknowledge and pay respect to him in view of his string of court victories against Mr. Obasanjo.

To be sure, Atiku will never get my electoral vote, but I respect him, I respect a man — any man or woman — who is as resilient and cool-headed as he is considering the situation he finds himself. Although it could be argued that he helped to create the nasty political condition the country has been in since 1999. Still, without his willingness to take the high road, Nigeria would have tilted towards anarchy and real political instability.

Put aside Atiku’s foibles, and you’ll see what President Obasanjo has been doing for much of his presidency: He has been circumventing the law, running an illegal show and personalizing justice and the rule of law. When he is not declaring his political enemies corrupt and unethical, he is claiming to be a paragon of morality; when he is not denouncing his opponents, he is anointing himself the emperor.

How could a man who swore to uphold the Constitution be the same man who abridges it? How could a man who came into office broke, and who is now considered a multi-millionaire, point accusatory fingers at others? How could a man known for his contempt for the judiciary now claim to be a believer in law and order? He starved the judiciary of fund and also meddled in their business. However, his greatest “accomplishments” could be seen in what he made of the legislative arm of government. Not only did he buy them off, those he couldn’t buy and cajole, he practically destroyed.

Obasanjo is not a nice man. He is not a law abiding citizen. He is not a man to turn down, not a man to confront, and certainly not a man to challenge. It is an understatement to say he has gangster mentality — shooting from the hip, holding no prisoners and hanging people high and dry. He is a danger to himself and to society. Instead of allowing the rule of law to prevail, he ceases and uses instrument of state to beat and terrorize his opponents. For him, crooks are saints, and saints are criminals. His word is the law in a supposed democratic system.

For Obasanjo, the game is over. His shenanigans are under check. His balloons have been deflated. And time is running out on him. If he and his legal team wants to go to before the Supreme Court, that’s fine. It is their right. For now however, Mr. Abubakar Atiku should be accorded the rights and protection and privileges afforded him by the Constitution. He is the Vice-President of Nigeria. The Courts have spoken. But will Obasanjo obey the Court? This is a mean, cunning and vengeful man, you know…

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1 comment

Anonymous February 23, 2007 - 9:56 am

This Writer (SABELLA) respects Atiku but is unwilling to give him his electoral Vote. Thank God for that. Atiku is not inerested in your RULE OF LAW. He is after his immunity from prosecution. Before you begin to rejoice, praising Atiku and the Court of Appeal, wait for the Supreme Court Ruling. Didn't the same Court annul the 2003 Elections? (Only for the Supreme Court to set aside its errorneous Decision) But beyond legalities, Ask yourself: IS THIS DECISION IN ACCORD WITH COMMON SENSE? IS IT A GOOD PRECEDENT FOR OUR FUTURE PRESIDENCY? IS THERE ANY PRECEDENT FOR IT IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD? IS THIS A JUDGEMENT AGAINST PRESIDENT OBASANJO? He who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Atiku's day of reckoning is nearer than you imagine. Sentence will be given by the same court that rendered this perverse Ruling. Nigeria is indeed in trouble intellectuals like Sabella have Atiku as their hero.


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