Balancing human rights and national security

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SHAFAQNA – There is a thin line separating respect and observance of human rights and its consequent violation on grounds of national security.

Respect, observance and enforcement of human rights by the state is not a function of optional charity but underlines the goodness of open societies founded on the rule of law and due process.

Sometimes, the progress and stability of countries are measured and anchored on their human rights record and countries that serially violate the rights of their citizens are classified as pariah states.

Of course, it is not always easy to respect and observe the rights of the people especially in countries with a history of conflict, economic and political challenges. In such societies, the state is always tempted to rule outside the law and the constitution. It is on this score that modern constitutions recognize the primacy of respect and protection of the human rights of the citizens and the need to carefully and restrictively derogate from the observance of human rights on grounds of national security.

The framers of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) recognize the fact that the government and some of its institutions and agencies may abuse the exceptions to the fundamental rights in Chapter IV of the Constitution and on that score decided to vest the power of maintaining the boundaries of the rights in a different organ of government.

In other words, the framers of the constitution did not give any individual or institution the option to capriciously derogate from the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people.

The constitution on its own delineates the parameters under which the fundamental rights of the citizen can be abridged and gives only to the judiciary the power and mandate to determine when and whether the institutions of government have exercised their powers within the parameters of the law.

One remarkable aspect of the Nigerian Constitution is that section 46(1) protects anticipatory breach of rights and provides that any person who alleges that any of the provisions of Chapter IV has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any State in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that State for redress while section 46(2) provides that subject to the provisions of the Constitution, a High Court shall have original jurisdiction to hear and determine any application made to it in pursuance of the section and may make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions as it may consider appropriate for the purpose of enforcement or securing the enforcement within that State of any right to which the person who makes the application may be entitled to.

Those exercising executive powers in the government are fully aware that the judiciary is the only arm or organ of government vested with the power of pronouncing the actions of government or any of its agencies as constitutional or unconstitutional.

It is therefore an incongruity and patently unacceptable for an individual to vary the orders and judgement of a court of law and mock the judiciary by declaring that the executive arm of government is the repository of judicial powers.

I make these preliminary comments bearing in mind the pronouncement of my good friend Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity and Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Hon. Minister of Information and Culture on why Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and Col. Sambo Dasuki are still being held in detention.

Garba Shehu posited while addressing State House Correspondents on Tuesday the 23rd day of May 2017 that the Federal Government of Nigeria is still holding Dasuki because there are additional charges against him for which he has not been granted bail.

He stated that security agencies were still conducting investigations on some allegations against the ex-National Security Adviser and this forms the crux of his continued detention.

On Zakzaky, the leader of IMN, Shehu asserted that he is still in detention for his own safety.

He further stated that the government fears that there would be a breakdown of law and order if Zakzaky was allowed to go home as “Government has a responsibility to ensure his safety”.

He pointed out that Zakzaky “is not in a prison type of detention. “He is in the company of his wife and children voluntarily” and that “government is being compassionate on this matter.

There is an overall public good that government is looking at in this matter.” The Minister of Information and Culture, on his own part, spoke in the same vein.

Featuring on Osasu Show, the minister stated that: “Every government will balance national security with human rights; every country in the world. It is the level of the balancing.

As a government, I will balance national security against human rights; and then I will take a decision. Because there is security, there is stability that the courts also exist.

What I am saying (is) that the court has ruled but the court does not have the entire picture when it comes to national security. I am a lawyer too; therefore, I have utmost respect for the judiciary.

“You can’t pick two, three cases which bother on national security to condemn a whole government and say this government is a government of impunity. How many cases are determined daily in Nigeria? I still say every government has that right to balance national security.”

I do not have sufficient information on the trajectory of the cases involving Col. Dasuki.

The cases involving him and those he is involved in have traversed domestic and regional courts and I have lost count of the number of bail applications filed and granted and or refused.

I am only aware of the fact that he has been arraigned before a properly constituted court of law and granted bail and that bail has not been honoured. I am also aware that he filed a suit before the ECOWAS Court and the government has not honoured the judgement of the ECOWAS Court.

In the case of Zakzaky, he has never been confronted with any allegation of the commission of any offence known to the laws of Nigeria or unknown to the laws of Nigeria.

He has never been arraigned before any court of law in Nigeria or outside Nigeria. He has repeatedly pleaded to be charged to court if he has committed any offence and his request has been turned down.

He has repeatedly pleaded to be allowed to seek medical attention to prevent the loss of both eyes and his request has been turned down.

In the absence of any other option, he approached the Federal High Court Abuja for the enforcement of his fundamental right and the Federal High Court ordered for his unconditional release.

Now Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity is not a lawyer but Lai Mohammed is a senior member of the Bar.

I am willing to make excuses for Garba Shehu for thinking that the judgement of a Court of Law can be edited, abridged or varied by the Executive branch of government on grounds of national security interests.

But I am sure that he knows that constitutionally, the powers that the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary wield are the powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that no branch of the government can or is permitted to assume superiority in terms of knowledge of national security issues and interests over other arms of government.

However, I am not ready to make or offer excuses for the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture in relation to the casting and profiling of the issues surrounding the continued detention of Zakzaky and his wife. As a lawyer, the Honourable Minister knows the law and the constitution.

The minister has been in the barricade in defense of the fundamental rights of the citizens of Nigeria to free speech and freedom of association. So what has changed and what has led to the balancing and editing of the powers of the judiciary by the executive branch of government?

What are the facts and what are the issues relating to the continued detention of Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat Ibrahim?

Did the office of the Attorney General of the Federation that represented the Department of State Services (DSS), the Police at the Federal High Court, Abuja canvass the issue of state security and protective custody before the court? What orders did the court make and why is it difficult for the government to obey the orders of a properly constituted court of law?

What are the implications of the refusal of the government to obey the orders of its own court?

to be continued

This discourse was published in:
New Telegraph Newspaper

Sanctity of Truth
Brought to you by #FreeZakzaky Campaign Committee, June 2017.
[08:47, 6/19/2017] +234 805 066 8813: Femi Fani-Kayode wrote:

THE SPECIOUS LIES OF A GANGSTER MINISTER

I watched the Minister Information and Culture Lai (aka Lie) Mohammed’s ‘Politics Today’ interview with Seun Okinbaloye of Channels Television a few days ago and I felt sorry for Nigeria.

I couldn’t help wondering why Channels Television keeps offering its respected platform to this shameless old fool to beam, broadcast and perpetuate unadulterated falsehood to the Nigerian people and to tell specious lies. The whole thing is simply incredulous.

During the course of that interview he told one big lie after the other with such ease and without batting an eyelid. I really do wonder how this man sleeps at night. I guess such things come naturally to him.

I look at his face and all I see is an unconsciable and relentless shit projector and sewage propeller.

He reminds me of one of those filth-ridden open gutters in India’s City of Mumbai: all manner of unprintable and disgusting things flow in and through it for all to smell and see.

Everything about him, including how he looks, what he says, what he wears and how he talks stinks to high heavens.

Like Donald Trump once said about a notorious Mexican drug lord, “this dude is a bad hombre!”

He is the kind of person that would pass a lie detector test with flying colours over and over again simply because lying is his nature. He is posessed by what the bible graphically and aptly describes as a “lying spirit”.

The first salvo of lies that he told us during the course of the interview was that Sheik El Zak Zaky, the leader of the Shiite Muslim community in Nigeria, was being kept in a guest house with his family and that he was not in government custody.

He went on to contradict himself by saying that the Federal Government was keeping him in custody only because they were building him a brand new house that he would move into later and that the difficulty that they had was that no-one wanted to be his neighbour!

Finally he said that the courts had said that the Sheik must not be released until that brand new house had been built for him.

Needless to say, all three assertions are false. They are nothing but dirty and desperate lies, cooked up to justify the governments disgraceful and indefensible behaviour towards El Zak Zaky, his family and the Shiite Muslims of Nigeria.

The truth is that firstly El Zak Zaky and his family are NOT being kept in a private guest house and both he and his wife most certainly are in government custody.

They have both been badly wounded, they are in the custody of the DSS and, for just under the last two years, they have been held at the DSS Headquarters in Abuja.

Their lawyers and doctors have little access to them but once in a while they are shipped to a secret government safe house for a short impromptu meeting with a handful of family members.

Secondly the Federal Government is NOT building a house for El Zak Zaky and even if they were this should not be a reason to keep him in indefinate and illegal custody and detention.

Thirdly the courts gave El Zak Zaky and his wife an order for unconditional release from the custody of the security agencies and his release order was not conditional on the government first building him a new house as Lie has suggested.

The truth is that the man and his wife have both been kept in illegal detention for almost two years, against their will and in total violation of all court orders.

Worst still throughout that period they have not been brought physically or produced by the intelligence agencies before any court of law.

El Zak Zaky was shot and blinded in one eye by the military whilst his wife was shot four times in the stomach at the time that his home was attacked and they were both abducted.

Over one thousand of his Shiite Muslim supporters were murdered that day and their homes were shelled, bombed and burnt to the ground. Since then both the man and his wife have been locked up in dingy underground cells and have been subjected to the most inhuman and barbarous form of pyschological and mental torture.

These are facts that Lie refused to acknowledge in his interview and that the government that he serves seek to hide from both the Nigerian public and the international community.

Lie also lied about Col. Sambo Dasuki the former National Security Advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan. He said that Dasuki was being detained indefinately because he would pose a threat to the Federal Government and to national security if he was released.

He went further to say that Dasuki had stolen 1.3 billion USD and that the government would not release him until that money was returned despite court orders to the contrary.

He did not tell us where the 1.3 billion USD was stolen from, he did not tell us whether it was stolen in cash, by cheque, by bank drart or by transfer and he did not tell us how he stole it. All he did was pick a figure from the sky and drop it.

He also said that as far as the government was concerned national security considerations were more important than court orders and that even though the courts had ordered Dasuki’s relese on several occassions the government would continue to ignore such orders because they believe that he poses a threat to national security.

The fact that it is unlawful to disregard court orders in Nigeria had no bearing on Lie. The fact that there is no law and no constitutional basis or justification to keep Dasuki in detention against court orders is immaterial to him and to the government that he serves.

The fact that the allegation that he stole 1.3 billion USD is not only utterly absurd but also has no basis in truth or reality is neither here nor there to this wicked man and to those he represents.

The fact that Dasuki poses no threat whatsover to anyone, least of all the Federal Government, matters less to this strange, conflicted and inexplicable creature that calls himself the Minister of Information and Culture.

The fact that locking up a man illegally and indefinately, depriving him of his constitutional rights and freedom, denying his lawyers and doctors full access to him, traumatising his family and friends, putting his stunningly beautiful and deeply courageous wife Bintu through hell, refusing to allow him to attend his aged father’s burial and denying him the right to be in a position to prepare a proper legal defence for himself against his detractors and accusers in court means absolutely nothing to this pernicious liar.

No matter how low the government goes and no matter how barbaric, illegal and heartless their actions are in terms of the violation of civil liberties and human rights, Lie has proved over and over again that he is prepared to go on Channels television or anywhere else to defend them.

I am convinced that if Buhari ordered for the gassing to death or burning alive of every single opposition figure and their family members together with all his other perceived enemies, Lie would gladly attempt to justify and defend it and Channels television would be only too happy to accomodate him and grant him the platform to do so.

Worse still he is prepared to defend the consistently aberrant, cruel, wicked, deviant and ungodly behaviour of the government that he serves with nothing less than the most bombastic and obvious lies, wholesale mendacities, false accusations, malicious fabrications and notorious and skewered half truths.

He has no conscience, no feeling, no empathy for his victims, no compassion, no mercy and no milk of human kindness.

One wonders if a man that is prepared to treat others so unjustly and defend it publicly can ever make it to heaven? One wonders whether they believe in God and if so whether they have any fear of Him.

It is clear to me that somewhere in the equation madness has crept into Lie’s confused and irreverant physche. He deserves to be pitied and, more importantly, he needs a lot of help and prayer. The sleazy job that he has been doing for the last two years has taken its toll and has got the better of him.

27 years ago when I first met Lie he used to be an absolute gentleman. Always wearing a smart suit and a crisp bow tie and always making concise and meaningful contributions to our many intense, contentious and oftentimes acrimonious discussions and public debates at the old September Club in Lagos, he was quite a sight to see.

He was a delight in those days. He was a man of his word, he always spoke the truth and it was a pleasure to be his friend. Sadly all that has changed.

In those days he was the affable and dependable “Lai” but today he is the truculent and cantankerous “Lie”.

In those days he was a man of unimpeachable honor and character who valued his integrity and reputation above all else but today he is a mere shadow and caricature of his former self.

He cuts a tragic figure that, over the years, found himself in bad company and that has degenerated very badly in terms of his virtues, his moral authority and his ability to stand for truth.

Simply put, he has sold his soul to the devil and he can now be righly and accurately described as one of those that the Bible refers to as a “son of perdition”.

A Minister of Information and Culture that everyone hates, that no-one trusts, that no-one believes and that looks like a cross between an ageing chimpanzee and washed-up and weathered old scarecrow.

At least Shehu Garbage and Femi Adesina are a little bit more presentable and they try to be a little more refined, subtle and polished with their distortions of truth. Not so with Lie.

He is just a plain old-fashioned, crude, vulgar Goebellian propagandist and pernicious liar. Like his father Satan, there is no truth in him. He was a liar from the start and the father of lies.

The truth is that he should have been the spokesman for the Italian or Russian Mafia, the Turkish or Greek underworld, the Japanese Yakuza, the Chinese Kuomintang or one of the numerous Colombian and Mexican drug cartels and not the Minister of Information of Nigeria.

That is the sort of thing he was born do. I say this because deep down Lie is nothing but a cheap hood and a gangster.

He is a ghetto and gangster Minister who speaks for and represents a ghetto and gangster Government.

by FESTUS OKOYE for Shafaqna

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