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27 August 2018

Buhari: national interest should override personal liberty

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said the rule of Law must be subject to the supremacy of the nation’s security and national interest.

Opening the 2018 Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja, he urged lawyers to work for national cohesion and unity as the 2019 elections approach.

The President told the lawyers: “Our apex court has had cause to adopt a position on this issue in this regard and it is now a matter of judicial recognition that; where national security and public interest are threatened or there is a likelihood of their being threatened, the individual rights of those allegedly responsible must take second place, in favour of the greater good of society.”

There have been criticism of the government over the detention of some individuals, such as former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki, Shiite leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife. Dasuki is being tried for alleged treason and  El-Zakzaky is court facing charges.

The President also urged the lawyers to uphold the sanctity and integrity of the judicial and electoral institutions.

Charging them to carry out proper analysis in cases that have to do with nation-building, he reminded them that law can only be optimally practiced in safe, secure and prosperous Nigeria.

He added: “Given the enormity of the challenges we inherited and the yearnings of a citizenry earnestly desirous of a new way of running national affairs, our first challenge was to transform our country speedily into a society where impunity in the management of national resources would be replaced with a culture of accountability and transparency. We needed to deploy our resources to address our common needs rather than the greed of a callous few.

”In order to achieve this, we have had to disrupt age-old assumptions and unsettle ancient norms in the management of our national patrimony, as you have all witnessed in the last three years.

”While we have made appreciable progress in several sectors, including public awareness of the need to challenge the corrupt and the brazen in our midst, we have also learnt useful lessons on the dynamism of our society. However, elements within every society, including some lawyers, can equally become unduly resistant to change, even where it is proven that such change is to serve the interest of the larger society.  At worst, corruption fights back.

”As we gradually move into another season of intense political activities preparatory to the 2019 General Elections, I enjoin you to remember that by reason of your profession, you all have a responsibility to work for national cohesion and unity through your speeches and public positions and most importantly in your advocacy in court.

”In the context of opinions and narratives about our past and present political and socio-economic experience, you cannot afford to jettison rational and proper analysis of issues in a manner which builds, rather than destroys the nation. I also urge you to work to uphold and improve the sanctity and integrity of our judicial and electoral institutions which play a fundamental role in the sustenance and growth of our democracy.

”However, let me remind you all, my dear compatriots, that the law can only be optimally practised in a Nigeria that is safe, secure and prosperous,” he said

The President also assured them of the resolve of his administration to promote measures that will achieve a vibrant economy under which the practice of law will thrive.

Through fiscal discipline, good housekeeping, he said that his administration navigated the difficult days of economic transformation in 2015.

He added: “And have now come to improving economic indices, including the consistent increase in our foreign reserves; 13 straight months of decreasing inflation; the expansion of social safety nets programmes as well as the blockages of historical drain pipes in our national treasury, all within the context of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.”


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