CONTINUED ILLEGAL DETENTION OF SHEIKH ZAKZAKY: Activist-lawyer Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) says leaders had contempt for rule of law

He blamed lawyers for not resisting disobedience of court orders.

Falana recalled that in the past, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) shut down courts when the government disobeyed orders.

He said today, the NBA has become “comfortable” with the violation of the rule of law.

The respected SAN spoke at the ongoing Annual General Conference of the NBA in Abuja, with the theme: “Transition, transformation and sustainable institutions.”

Speaking during a session on “Rule of Law and Security”, Falana criticised attorneys-general, who he said encouraged their bosses to disobey court orders.

Reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement at the conference opening that “the rule of law must be subject to the supremacy of the nation’s security and national interest”, the activist-lawyer said the issue was about who defined national security.

“What the President, with profound respect, was saying on Sunday is what they call in East Africa ‘rule of rulers’, not rule of law. We need to strike a balance between the rule of law and national security.

“State security does not mean the security of the government in power. It means the collective security of Nigerians.

“When you disobey a court order, you are inviting anarchy and chaos, and that is subversive of national security,” he said.

Falana referenced the detention of Islamic scholar Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife despite court orders that they be released.

He said although El-Zakzaky was later accused of murder, those charged with him for the offence had been discharged and acquitted.

Falana said: “I can tell you today that all the governments in Nigeria, including Abuja and all the 36 states, have contempt for the rule of law, and our colleagues, who are attorneys-general, connive with the government, including President Buhari and the governors.

“There is none of them who will not seek the legal advice of the attorney-general if confronted with obedience to court orders. It is our colleagues who will advise: ‘We don’t need to obey the order.”

He said he once challenged a governor why he did not obey a court order.

According to him, the governor’s response was that his attorney-general told him there would be an appeal, and that before the case was decided by the Supreme Court, they would have left office.

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