Arguments for and against Buhari’s illegality on CJN

Arguments for and against Buhari’s illegality on CJN

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By Gene Mojekwu

I believe that Buhari illegally removed the Chief Justice of Nigeria. Is the CJN corrupt? Perhaps, but that is not the point.  Democracy presupposes a civilian government based on procedures, where the constitution, as the supreme law of the land, holds sway at all times, with nobody being above the law and everyone equal before the law.  When a president flouts the law (even for the good of the citizens), it invites others to do the same, which can lead to chaos and anarchy.

A careful analysis of the arguments for and against Buhari’s action reveals that, in general, those who are against cite the constitution as the basis for their opposition, while those in favor claim that Buhari did what is right for the nation, considering the alleged corrupt practices of the CJN. The evidence offered by those in favor is quite compelling, but, again, that is not the point. In a democracy, even the “right’ thing is wrong, if it is not done in strict accordance with the dictates of the constitution. The only acceptable remedy is to amend the constitution through the legislative body. When a president usurps the responsibility of the legislature and/or judiciary under the guise of doing the “right” thing, it  is called dictatorship.

One has to resist the temptation of condemning those in favor of the president’s action because most Nigerians have experienced one form of oppressive rule or another. Those born before 1960 were born under colonialism, while those born before 1999/2000 were born or grew up under military rule.  Living under oppression has  shaped the mentality of the past and present generation of Nigerians, thereby affecting our way of thinking. Long years of military rule have battered the psyche of the average Nigerian into erroneously falling into the trap of the quicker the better. The average citizen has also unknowingly accepted that all things military are superior to all things civil, inadvertently leading to the militarization of the mentality of the civil population.

The command and obey structure of the military, which allows no arguments or alternative positions, has pushed the average Nigerian into unconsciously accepting that following procedures is a sign of weakness and that might is right. Other subtle manifestations of our military hangover include our attitudes in public places, when we shout at each other, leave our phones ringing at its loudest and shout while answering the call without caring about our neighbors. We shout at our children at home, shout at our husbands and shout at our wives.   Our car horns are left blaring at the slightest opportunity with total disregard of the law against noise pollution. Police arrest and detain citizens without bringing them to trial and they are left languishing in detention for months incommunicado.

While leaders at various levels may be culpable in the institutionalization of military mentality in our democracy, it is pertinent to point out that the average citizen must take his own share of the blame. When attitudes which undermine our democracy are accepted as norms, the end product is anarchy. As a matter of urgency, citizens must begin to imbibe decorum in their public activities, showing respect for one another and obeying the simple rules of society. On the part of our leaders, they must understand that it is in their best interest and the interest of our democracy to jettison all attitudes of governance carried over from military rule. Democracy is a process that requires procedures to succeed. Expecting immediate results is not a democratic norm. We must all, therefore, acquire the virtue of patience. Our democracy can only be deepened and the dividends accrue to all citizens when attitudes and behaviors that tend to undermine democracy are done away with and condemned by all Nigerians, even when the perpetrator is your preferred candidate.