The news of the chief judge of the federal capital territory ordering the magistrates in Abuja to quit granting remand orders in favour of EFCC gladdened my heart. Though it is paramount that looters of of our commonwealth must be brought to book, to end the culture of impunity. It must be done according to the law and constitution of the country and not through mere orders from the president. Let us be very sincere to the core here. The only arm of government that can only rescue democracy in the face of tyranny or dictatorship is the judiciary. It is the last resort, they say, for the helpless. So, it is very sincere to say that if this arm of government is overshadowed by excesses of a dictatorial government, then democracy is dead.
The rule of law must be applied to the last core or shred. If the law says that you must not detain a person beyond 24hrs or 14 days without charge, then that must be strictly adhered to, irrespective of the crime. But in a scenario where the president gives orders to detain people, out of his own personal feelings or convenience, than the reasons placed before the judge, is dangerous to democracy. It is dictatorial and very preposterous coming from a so called democratic president. How long will this move on before it leads to a crisis that could spiral out of control? To check this, the judge in FCT Abuja has led the way, and it is for others around the country to follow suit.
The Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello, has ordered the magistrates in Abuja to stop granting remand orders in favour of EFCC.
The Chief judge ordered that forthwith, no magistrate should make an order allowing EFCC to detain people for a time when those people had not been charged to court.
The Chief Judge made the order on the heels of the argument from EFCC that it is detaining Metuh (the PDP spokesman), based on an order made by a magistrate allowing EFCC to detain Metuh for 14 days. The chief Judge barred magistrates from making orders over matters that they do not have jurisdiction to delve into.
“I have said it and I keep saying it, the rape on the judicial powers of the court being done by the present administration can only be stopped by the courts themselves. The situation wherein the fundamental rights of suspects are eroded can only be stopped when the courts insists on its rights. I commend Justice Ishaq Bello for taking this step to redeem the judiciary in Abuja and I also call on other Chief Justices of other states to issue similar orders.
Tyranny and dictatorship can only thrive when those foisted with the duty of checking it do nothing or keep quiet.
There is a wrong way and a good way of doing things. Detaining suspects indefinitely when the allegation against them has not even been proved is evil and ought to be condemned.
The Chief Judge should penalise any magistrate used as as tool in the hand of law enforcement agencies to oppress Nigerians.
Those who are suspected of committing offence ought to be charged to court and not tortured with unlawful detention” written by one social media commentator.
Some senior advocate of Nigeria do disagree with the order of the judge. Arguing that his orders do not hold grounds, pointing to some sections from our constitution.
By Ike A. Offor (IkeA.Offor@yahoo.com)