Renowned constitutional lawyer and elder statesman, Professor Ben Nwabueze, has taken a hard look at the 10-month-old Muhammadu Buhari presidency and passed a verdict of marginalization against the South East.
According to Nwabueze, in President Buhari’s 31 strategic appointments, the South East was excluded.
His words: “He appointed thirty-one appointments, none from the South East; is that what they call justice? In thirty-one strategic appointments in a constitution that says that social order is founded in justice. What does justice mean and what does it require?
Nwabueze also questioned Buhari’s fidelity to constitutional procedures that define democracy, pointing out that the constitution necessarily imposes certain limitations in power.
“The constitution imposes so many other limitations in power. Are those limitations being observed? The bill of right is there guaranteeing rights to every individual and citizen. Are those rights being obeyed? That’s part of the essential character of democracy, Nwabueze noted.
According to him: “The Constitution can fairly be described as consultative government; you have to consult with various agencies established by the constitution. Is he doing that?”
With specific reference to the handcuffing of Chief Olisa Metuh, Nwabueze took exceptions to the inhuman treatment of citizens.
His words: “The constitution outlaws inhuman treatment among so many rights that were with it. You see a citizen been handcuffed for corruption. Olisa Metuh was not accused of anything else but corruption.
“Is that enough to handcuff a citizen? The constitution prohibits inhuman treatment. Handcuffing is accepted if a man committed murder and there’s evidence that he may try to escape. That may well be justification for handcuffing.
“That’s the only circumstance where you can arguably justify such a treatment. I heard also that Nnamdi Kanu was handcuffed. What did he do? Declaring Biafra? Is that enough to handcuff him?
Alluding to President Buhari’s position that he will not treat those that gave him five percent votes the same way he will those that gave him 95 percent, Nwabueze stated such positions were flawed.
And yesterday in Lagos, the Nwabueze Centre for Studies in Constitutional Law and Related Subjects was formally inaugurated.
The event was held at the Nigeria Institute for International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island and was attended by retired Justices Salisu Modibo Alfa Belgore, George Oguntade, Samson Odemwingie Uwaifo, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) among other legal luminaries.
Nwabueze, in his inaugural speech said that the centre was borne out of his passion for Constitutional Law.
Justice Samson Odemwingie Uwaifo, CON, (rtd) Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, delivering a paper entitled: “Whether the Code of Conduct Tribunal is right in refusing to grant a request for stay of proceedings in a case before it, and whether the presence of bias or likelihood of it and lack of impartiality does not vitiate the proceedings”.
In the paper, Uwaifo said that the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) is not a court and therefore has no right to exercise judicial powers, adding that there is a real likelihood of bias by the CCT which may deny the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki justice.
“They do not and are not meant to exercise judicial power which is exclusive for the courts. It is impossible under the constitution to confer such functions upon anybody other than a court, nor can the difficulty be avoided by designating a body, which is not in its essential character a court, by the name, or by calling the function by another name.”
On whether there is bias or likelihood of it in the case of Saraki before CCT, Uwaifo noted that it was possible the All Progressives Congress (APC) which did not back Saraki’s ambition as Senate President has connection with what is playing out at the CCT.