President Muhammadu Buhari, whose government has shown disregard for court orders, surprisingly said on Wednesday that he respects the country’s judiciary and is willing to abide by its decisions at all times.
According to Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Buhari said this at a dinner with representatives of the judiciary at his official residence.
Ibrahim Muhammad, acting chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), had led retired chief justices, some justices of the supreme court and heads of courts in the federal capital territory (FCT) to see the president.
Mr. Buhari stressed that he believed that the judiciary should be independent, recounting how he submitted himself to the courts three times on his way to becoming president.
He was quoted to have said, “I respect the institution. I have come before you three times before I got here on the fourth run for the office. Your word is the last word on any given issue.”
However, Buhari’s government snubbed court decisions, including those ordering the release of detained former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzakky, among others.
In August, Lagos Human Rights lawyer ,Femi Falana SAN, wrote a letter, asking then Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo to stop the flagrant disobedience to court orders by his government, demanding the immediate release of Dasuki and El-Zakzakky.
Mr. Falana made the appeal in a letter titled, ‘Request to end disobedience of court orders by all authorities and persons, expressing his disappointment at the refusal of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF Abubakar Malami to obey court orders and release Mr. Dasuki and others.
The Human Rights lawyer said, “It is common knowledge that the AGF, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), has said that Col Sambo Dasuki (retd.); Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky; and his wife, Hajia Zenab Elzakzaky, would not be released from custody in defiance of the valid and subsisting orders of municipal and regional courts.
A year ealier, Prof. Itse Sagay, an insider of Buhari’s government and Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, had also advised the Federal Government to obey court orders and release Dasuki (retd.) and El-Zakzaky from illegal detention. This also fell on deaf ears.
Other eminent Nigerians had also made similar requests but the duo continue to languish in illegal detention.