Dasuki, Kanu: Senior Lawyers Slam President Buhari Over Disregard For Rule Of Law

President Muhammadu Buhari has been faulted by senior Nigerian lawyers over the position he took on the trials of Radio Biafra director, Nnamdi Kanu and the former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki.

The president had during the maiden presidential chat, opened up on the gravity of the ills carried out by the pair, especially emphasising that the Biafran leader had committed many anomalies in his time as the director.


In separate interviews with Vanguard, the president's stand was against the tenets of constitutional democracy, rule of law and presumption of innocence of an accused person.

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Instead, the president was counseled to always allow the Attorney General of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, to handle such topics on behalf of the government.

Mahmud Magaji, SAN, during the interview, said: "going by provisions of our extant constitution, the presumption is that a person charged to court for whatever offence, is innocent until guilt is established. Unless I am told that the constitution was amended last night.

"That you level an accusation on someone does not make the person guilty automatically. If it is so, why then are the courts there? What we are practicing is constitutional democracy. Anyway, I did not listen to the media chat and cannot therefore speak much on the issue."

In his submission, Chief Joe Agi, another SAN, noted that, "I really want to believe that the President did not mean what he said. I have a feeling that what he wanted to say was that though granted bail, if there are other cases against the accused persons, they could be re-arrested, notwithstanding the pending case.

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"It will be totally wrong to refuse to release someone on bail in the absence of any pending allegation. Clearly, I am so sure that what the President meant to say was not what he said or what was understood. We should also appreciate the fact that he is not a lawyer.

"If I am to advise the President, I will say he should in future, leave such issues to the Attorney General of the Federation to clarify."

Another senior lawyer who prides himself as one of those who fought to bring this government to power, said: "I will say that the President’s statement is an infringement on the concept of separation of powers.

"No matter how strongly one feels about the culpability of any accused person, once an order has been made, the Executive is bound to obey.

"Even if you have other crime allegation against an accused, you must first of all respect an order for bail, and maybe re-arrest the person later to answer to the fresh charge. However, for the President to say that the accused persons will not be released from detention because of the gravity of charge against them is an affront on the hallowed principle of separation of powers.

"Such things were never supposed to be voiced out by any person under a democratic government, not to even say the President. It is unfortunate, though the Presidency has come out to clarify. As the President of Nigeria, one can hardly separate Buhari from the Presidency.

"Nevertheless, for them to come out to clarify the issue shows deference to public outcry."

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Constitutional lawyer Festus Ogwuche on his path, said: "The President got it wrong. No matter the number of allegations against an accused person, once the matter has been charged before a competent court, that court assumes powers to determine whether or not the person deserves bail.

"Court orders are made to be obeyed, if not, it becomes impunity. No matter the gravity of the offence, an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Proper investigation ought to have been conducted and concluded before a person is charged. Re-arresting someone immediately after the court has granted such person bail makes mockery of our democracy which is presumably anchored on the rule of law and separation of powers."

In a recent report, the Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (FHRACC) based in Delta state claimed that President Buhari has no legitimate power to decide bail for the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

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