Buhari, Tinubu: Nigerians Must Defend Judiciary

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Sep 30, 2011 No Comments ›› ACN (ji)

IT was a day of honour for some eminent Nigerians yesterday in Abuja. But, for former Lagos Governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, it was a good opportunity to speak truth to power.

Tinubu urged Nigerians to reject President Goodluck Jonathan’s seven-year single tenure proposal, just as they rejected former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term bid.

It was all at the Leadership Newspapers Annual Conference and Award Ceremony – a colourful event attended by leading politicians, professionals and businessmen.

In the audience were National Security Adviser Gen. Andrew Owoye Azazi and former Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who urged Nigerians to defend the judiciary.

In Tinubu’s view, should the single tenure proposal sail through, it could breed dictators, paving the way for this country’s disintegration.

According to Tinubu, if Nigerians allow single tenure, they will have opened the door to fraud.

His words: “Today, we may not have time to debate the single term proposition but, to me, the answer is ‘no’. A politician elected must be accountable to the people intermittently. If you open the single term, you would have opened the way to fraud. It is a clear path to disintegration. Six years is enough to create a dictator. Let us reject that, like we rejected third term.”

The Action Congress Nigeria (ACN) leader was honoured as the Person of the Year for what the newspaper described as his tenacity. As he spoke, the hall applauded. He had made a kingly entry into the arena, with party supporters singing his praise.

Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) leader and former presidential candidate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was named the Leadership Politician of the year.

Businessman Jimoh Ibrahim emerged the Leadership Businessman of the year and Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole is the Leadership Governor of the year.

The former governor urged governors to reject the Sovereign Wealth Fund, which he described as illegal and unconstitutional.

He wondered why there should be savings for the rainy day when everywhere is already flooded.

He observed that should the fund take its root firmly, it would be used to siphon money meant for development. But, Tinubu proposed an alternative – a revenue formula that will be fair to the states.

He said: “I am today shouting loud and clear to the governors of Action Congress of Nigeria and other governors, don’t allow the Sovereign Fund. It is illegal. It is unconstitutional and they will use it to siphon you and deprive you of developmental programmes. Are you saving for the rainy day when it is already flooding all over? The excess crude is an illegal account. There should be a new revenue allocation formula that will be fair.”

He went on: “We in the opposition advocate fiscal federalism. Under the Excess Crude Account and now its progeny, the Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Federal Government has improperly siphoned funds constitutionally mandated for state governments. This represents a massive slush fund the Federal Government can use as it wishes with little public knowledge or oversight.

“At best, the monies will be used to fund practices that enrich government cronies, but make poor the larger economy. I cannot speak for other states, but I make bold to say that the states with ACN governors would rather see their proper share of these funds in the hands of their governors than in the custody of the bureaucrats servile to PDP chieftains.”

On judiciary, Tinubu, who was docked at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for allegedly operating foreign accounts while in office – an offence he insists he never committed – stressed that he could never be silenced.

He says his trial is political; a vengeful venture for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s loss of the Southwest. The Code of Conduct Bureau denies this.

The politician urged Nigerians to keep vigil over the rule of law and protect the independence of the judiciary from the monopoly of the ruling party.

The presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari agreed with Tinubu on the need to shield the judiciary from being compromised.

“We just have to do something serious to ensure that the judiciary is not compromised. If it is, this nation will not survive,” he said.
Gen. Buhari, who urged Nigerians to demand that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should refund the N100billion allocated for voters’ registration since the exercise was a failure, added that there was no presidential election in over 20 states.

Tinubu had recalled that in recent elections, the opposition was confronted with abuse of power to muscle it out, adding that through the rule of law, the courts are to be the guardian of fairness and justice.

Analysing the state of the judiciary, Tinubu stressed that without such protection, democracy lies exposed to the ravages of power.

He regretted that instead of learning from the past, the PDP “now seems intent to overturn the impartiality of the judiciary”.

Tinubu cited what he described as the attempt to cut short the career of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, who he said was suspended for refusing to compromise.

He noted that his name was tarnished and there was a rumour that the former governor had pocketed the justice, adding that it was simply because the ruling party could not tolerate impartiality.

Said Tinubu: “The most glaring example of this has been the government’s attempt to cut short the career of one of our illustrious jurists, Court of Appeal President Justice Isa Salami. What was his crime? Refusing to put his sense of justice on sale. For this, they tarnished his name and plotted to end his career. They rumoured that he was in the pockets of the A CN. This is a terrible lie against a good man. His verdicts were not for the Action Congress of Nigeria.

“They were for justice. However, those in power could not tolerate his impartiality. They sacrificed one of Nigeria’s finest jurists to send a blunt message to other jurists: go against our wish and you shall lose those robes you hold so dear. If such a thing can befall so senior a jurist, what hope do others have? Unless the public cries out, the ruling party may succeed in turning the rule of law from an inalienable right into a tradeable item that only it owns and controls.”

The chairman of the occasion, the Chief Security Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Gen. Azazi, claimed that the 2011 elections were free and fair, contrary to the position of the publisher of Leadership, Mr. Inda Isaiah, who said no decent person would claim that the elections were credible.

Gen. Azazi, who praised Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola for good governance, also hailed the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, for his effort at developing the state.

Oshiomhole, who assessed the 2011 elections, said although they were not perfect, they were far better than the ones conducted while Obasanjo was President.

The Edo State Governor, who called for the removal of all the electoral officers who presided over nullified elections, added that the INEC chairman’s credibility is not enough to make a perfect election.


The Nation

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