A human rights advocacy group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has called on the United Nations to prevail upon President Muhammadu Buhari to put a stop to wilful disobedience of court judgments by his government. The organisation, in a petition dated May 11, 2018 to the UN, lamented the Federal Government’s habit of picking and choosing court judgments to obey.
It expressed concern that if not checked, a situation where the Federal Government wilfully disobeyed court judgments would ultimately “put the rule of law in Nigeria under siege.”
The letter, signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, was addressed to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mr. Diego García-Sayán.
SERAP urged García-Sayán to use his good offices to prevail upon President Buhari to ensure the sanctity of the country’s constitution as well as respect for the country’s international obligations.
Among others, SERAP noted that the Federal Government had so far refused to obey the court judgment ordering the release of the leader of the Shi’ite movement, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenatu, who have been in military detention since December 2015.
It noted also that despite a court judgment, a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), was still being detained in prison custody.
Besides these, SERAP noted that it had got two different judgments against the Federal Government, which the Buhari administration had continued to disobey. SERAP warned that continued disobedience of court judgments and rulings would undermine “the crucial role of the judiciary in combating corruption and obstruct access to justice, contrary to international standards, including Article 11 of the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”