Adeyemi Ogunnubi, Lagos
A Nigerian Human Rights lawyer, and member of Lawyers Without Borders has advised the three arms of government to always work together and respect each other’s decisions by applying restraint to actions in the interest of the country.
Mr Ikedimme Valentine while assessing the relationship between governments, Mr Ikedimme said Nigeria would have a huge success if the three arms of government respects each other.
“…three arms of government are supposed to work together closely. As the executive arm of government, part of its role is to implement and if anybody has committed an offence in Nigeria, it is its duty to prosecute. Now while you are prosecuting, you cannot also be the presiding officer. It is separate from the judiciary which interprets the law and gives judgement.
…The legislators will look at the law and see if there is any way to amend it or whether the law should be what it should be. But what we are seeing in Nigeria today is a situation where the executive prosecutes and at the same time rationalise orders given by the Court. You see, as far as Human Rights is concerned or government is concerned the three arms of government are supposed to work together but the three of them must respect the decisions of each arm of the government because the society will move where the three arms of government and all of us agree to respect each other by applying restraint to actions,’’ he said.
Mr Ikedimme said that the three arms of government were important but the judiciary was important and if the judiciary in the country could maintain its position and can stand firm, the country will really progress.
“As a judge, you cannot violate my order; you cannot fail to obey my order and you cannot decide to disobey and still bring an application before me to ask for my discretionary power to ask me to continue to appear on that same matter. My position has always been that the legislative arm of government can do whatever they want to do. The executive arm of government can do whatever they want to do, but let the courts maintain its sanity,” The human rights lawyer stated.
Speaking on communication and inter-agency synergy, Mr Ikedimme said each arm of government must apply restraint by remaining in its own constitutional rights.
”A situation where the courts are there for the people to ventilate their rights and if the people no longer have confidence in the courts, that signifies the beginning of the failure of the system. That is the time when people take laws into their hands. If you have confidence that if you go to court to ventilate your rights that orders made by the courts will be respected by all arms of government. It is not the individuals sitting that you as an institution is respecting but the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria where a court has made an order.
Ikedimme said as a sitting governor, when a well-to-do member of the society, decides not to obey a law, he is disgracing the entity called a nation.
”Each arm of government must apply restraint to remain in its own constitutional rights. No matter how you feel or how strongly you feel that your position should have been upheld by the court. You should remain and respect the order and that is how societies progress,” he stated.
Journey so far
Mr Ikedimme described the journey as very disheartening as many rights of Nigerians and that of other citizens are not yet well protected.
“One thing I will like to say is that Human Rights agitation is a continuous process and I must tell you that the establishment of United Nations declarations of Human Rights on December 10 in 1948 actually marked the beginning of a process and success in Human Rights sector because you can’t actually lay your hands on a particular articulated views or principles governing Human Rights. Countries were not amenable or open to protection of Human Rights but by United Nations declaration of 1948 Countries were enjoined to protect these Human Rights that were sacrosanct and inalienable and were not given by human beings but by God himself.
He adds that their aim was to ensure that citizens were free and protected by ensuring that every one enjoys his or her Human Rights.