National Interest Vs Rule of Law The law, its adjudication and "national interest" By Prof. Mike Ikhariale “The prophecies of what the courts will do in fact, and nothing more pretentious, are what I mean by law.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes, in The Path of the Law,Album 10 Harvard Law Review 457 (1897) Speaking last Sunday at the auspicious occasion of the opening of this year’s Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari somehow indicted the Judiciary for its apparent unjust alliance with criminality as evidenced by the numerous instances in which obviously corrupt members of the Nigerian ruling class are casually left off the hook by citing flimsy technical or purely procedural rules and prosecutorial short-comings without any serious consideration of the grave harm such unbridled lootings do to the nation as a whole. In pressing his case, he asserted that the “Rule of Law must be subject to the supremacy of the nation’s security and national interest”. Ordinarily, such an indicting statement on the law and its applicability in the national interest would generate considerable controversies but when it is further given at a place where the overall audience is an assembly of nation’s lawyers, the ripple effects could indeed be seismic,possibly a fractious jurisprudential war. What really is the LAW and why must it be obeyed, if I may ask? While most jurists think the law is whatever the legislators (directed by the “will of the people” and accented to by the sovereign) chooses to enact is the law. The Realist legal school of thought, spearheaded by the famous Harvard scholar, Oliver Wendell Holmes, on the contrary, forcefully contend that, at the end of the day, it is what the Judge, the last actor in the long chain of the law thinks is about law that really matters. In other words, no matter the good intentions of a piece of law, no matter its intrinsic imperatives, it is what the judge before whom a case on it is brought thinks, correctly or incorrectly, that matters. In effect, legal thinkers of the Realist hue are squarely holding the courts/ judges and, tangentially the lawyers, who professionally serve as “officers in the temple of justice” responsible for whatever happens to the Rule of Law. I don’t think the case of Nigeria is different. And as if to corroborate the contention of his boss on the subject, Mr.Ibrahim Magu, the nation’s anti-corruption Tsar disclosed that he is personally aware of a single case in which a lawyer collected the sum of 1.7 billion Naira Prof. Mike Ikhariale as “fees” from an allegedly corrupt politician who he represented. While a lawyer is free to charge any amount that he deems appropriate, such a humongous sum of money as “fees”,by any means calculated, would naturally suggest to the onlooking by-standers that there is a “kill and divide” transaction going on and when that person eventually gets exonerated by a judge purely on “technical grounds”, the frustrated citizens, including the President,are left with no option but to conclude that something inappropriate has happened, inter se. A socially responsible and patriotically-minded judge would consider the fact that the unlawful taking out from the public till of billions Naira by a single individual who contributed nothing of value to the Unfortunately, the perception of the law and its application in Nigeria today is undoubtedly worrisome and only a dishonest evaluator would think otherwise national economy in exchange for his “wealth” has a case to answer irrespective of the loopholes in the law.If the law is truly an “instrument of social engineering”, those are perfect occasions in which a fairminded judge would demonstrate that principle by asking himself if such a huge theft is to the good of the society and proceed to judicially remedy the anomaly. Unfortunately, that has not been our experience lately.Justice, we were taught must not only be done, it must also be seen to have been properly done. Unfortunately, the perception of the law and its application in Nigeria today is undoubtedly worrisome and only a dishonest evaluator would think otherwise. My argument, therefore, is that the actual and perceived failure of the Rule of Law in Nigeria cannot be considered in isolation. The entire system is defective and no longer able to deliver on its desired results. Corruption, which has taken the lead in the destruction of the country is a nation-wide malady. It is therefore presumptuous to expect that lawyers and in particular, judges, alone would behave differently simply because of their toga of “learnedness”. So when Mr. President sought to construct a simplistic hierarchy of the importance of National Interest over the Rule of Law, it must be understood that he was speaking from the position of a man who is frustrated with the law and its practices in contemporary Nigeria. The Rule of Law cannot be sacrificed for the national interest because while the Rule of Law,properly deployed, is an objective tool for the resolution of various conflicts, the concept of “national interest”, on the other hand, is a very subjective proposition which changes its meaning according to the ideological preferences of the ruling class in power who are able to translate such ideas into the legal system. Normative parameters of the Rule of Law There is often the common mistake of taking courts judgements synonymous with the Rule of Law. Pronouncements of courts are supposedly deduced within the normative parameters of the Rule of Law but unfortunately, just as Wendell Holmes noted above, the individual judge handling the case, more often than not, could proceed to taint the true dictate of the Rule of Law via corrupt lenses. What we should be insisting on, therefore, is the superiority of the Rule of Law over court rulings. Just the same way we have bad laws which we are morally enjoined to disregard, we also have bad judgements which can only the implemented at great cost to justice. It is to avoid such unpalatable outcomes that the appellate system wherein higher courts correct lower courts, was instituted. But there are no objective assurances that this will always be the case due to the overwhelming prevalence of corruption especially when it is on record that there have been some judicial efforts at making Nigerian judges to be above the law in complete repudiation of what the Rule of Law itself stands for, namely, “equality before the law”. If the goal of courts adjudication is the promotion of justice, it follows therefore that the State is at liberty to ignore those injudicious rulings that have totally disregarded the best interest of society. President Buhari, a layman, may not have been technically correct to suggest that national interest supersedes the Rule of Law because without the law there will be no nation in the constitutional sense as we know it but he would not be far from the truth if he were to say that court rulings are not above national interest. Vanguard, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2018—37 Red alert: Araraume in APGA Araraume would be an asset to any other party, but handing the APGA’s governorship ticket to him will undoubtedly cause a reversal fortunes for the party BY CLIFF NJOKU IT is true that most Nige rians applauded the defection of some stalwarts of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to other parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. But one defection that is bound to attract jeers is that of one of its chieftains in Imo State, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume. Although the former senator has not formally announced his defection, there are strong indications that the APC governorship aspirant in the state has secretly obtained a membership card from the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in his Osuachara ward in the Isiala Mbano local government area of the state. When the rumor first began to make its rounds, it was greeted with unbelief, even shock. Although recent and current events within the Imo State chapter of the APC were clearly indicative of the fact that the senator’s governorship bid has suffered a big setback, the least many had expected was that he would leave the party. This was hinged on the thinking that the senator would not simply park his bags and baggage in the APC and head for another party. The belief was that Senator Araraume’s handlers and associates would dissuade him from making such a move because they would tell him that it would be one move too many. Many observers would have reasoned that Araraume, who represented Imo North senatorial district at the red chambers between 1999 and 2007, would think twice before jumping ship this time around so as to avoid being characterised as a serial defector, one who buckles under the slightest push and who has not got the resilience to withstand political tempest. So, by apparently putting caution to the winds, the refrain in the state is that Senator Araraume has finally confirmed his desperation to be governor. Initially, many thought that he had a good chance to clinch the governorship ticket of APC despite the vehement opposition to his ambition by his friend and associate, the state governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha. But events in the Imo APC since early last May when the party held its congresses tend to have altered his calculations. It is not a hidden matter that the new national leadership of the party, headed by Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, prefers to work with the governor. The story of the Imo APC since the emergence of Mr. Oshiomhole as the national chairman is perhaps too well known to warrant any details here but what no analyst can be tired of stating is that as things stand today, the chances of Governor Okorocha’s son-in-law, Mr. Uche Nwosu, emerging as the party’s governorship candidate for the 2019 general election is very high even if he may not go ahead to win the election proper İn the circumstances, many observers have been wondering what happened to the senator’s claim of having “capacity” and being “close” to President Muhammadu Buhari. In the opinion of many observers, the fact that the presidency simply sat back and watched as Araraume was being “rubbished” by Okorocha not only put a lie to that claim but also shows that the party itself does not believe that he has the type and level of capacity he claims to have in the state. But if leaving the APC was a big surprise to many, Senator Araraume’s decision to go to APGA was even of a bigger surprise. Even the least discerning watcher of Imo politics would have found it extremely hard to mentally locate the slightest image of Senator Araraume against the backdrop of APGA. The possibility of an ultra conservative politician like Araraume birthing on the only “progressive” party in Nigeria was, to many, too remote to contemplate. But apart from that politics in this part of the world is devoid of ideological colorations; there is always the convenient rationalisation of every or any political misstep under the cover of freedom of association. Still, for many observers, the Araraume-in-APGA saga defies any rationalisation. It is incongruous and is the strongest evidence that desperation is fast becoming the hallmark of politics in Nigeria. It brings to the fore the charge against the entire political class that it is merely out to grab power – at all cost – not to provide leadership. Since Senator Araraume’s main motive in moving to APGA is to grab the party’s governorship ticket, it is the clearest evidence that Nigeria’s politics is driven by the influence of materialism. Differently put, nothing else could have made Araraume jump from the APC to APGA less than one month to the primary elections, other than the belief that he has what it takes, materially, to buy both the conscience of the leaders of the party and the votes of the delegates at the party’s primary elections. Whether that is the image the leadership of APGA wants to create for it is for it to determine but what should worry its teeming members and supporters is the obvious implications of his eventual purchase of the party’s governorship ticket. Even as remote as that possibility is, the consequence of its eventuality is too grave to contemplate. To be sure, Araraume would be of an asset to any other party right now but in the current circumstances, handing the AP- GA’s governorship ticket to him will undoubtedly cause a reversal fortunes for the party in the forthcoming elections. First, the generality of the leaders of the party in the state, together with the numerous governorship aspirants in the party, will feel both insulted and short changed. Apart from that, many of them have never seen Araraume eye-to-eye in the politics of the state; they will resist a situation whereby the obvious interpretation would be that he came and purchased them with his money. More important, the teeming members and supporters of APGA will find it hard to compromise their radical views on politics of the state and country generally vis-a-vis Araraume’s ultra conservative disposition as earlier noted. Senator Ifeanyi Araraume is an establishment fellow whose antecedence is that of a fellow who, in the course of seeking for personal riches, did not mind conniving at the deliberate marginalisation of his own people by successive federal administrations. Yes, the incumbent governor did a similar thing in 2011 when he purchased the ticket of the party from the hands of mercantile politicians in the same category with Araraume, but the APGA of today is quite different from the APGA of then. Today, the people of the South East, especially the youths, have resolved to use APGA as both a vehicle for pursuing their collective emancipation and as a platform for engaging the rest of Nigeria. Unknown to many, the process of recruiting those who will drive this vision has been on for some time and for reasons that are not difficult to fathom, the likes of Araraume are not in the radar. It has nothing to do with wealth or political connections and as such, the belief by the senator and those propping him that he could purchase the party with money is both misplaced and ridiculous. Worse for Ararume, he does not enjoy one big advantage which his kinsman, Ikedi Ohakim, has; which is that even though the latter is from Okigwe zone, the people of Owerri may not mind allowing him fly the party’s flag since he has only one term of four years to do. Senator Araraume, given his current desperation, may mouth that he will do only one term but the people will not believe him. The incumbent governor, Okorocha, made a similar promise, incidentally under the same APGA, but not only did he renege he also meted out the worst treatment for Owerri zone in the history of the state. *Professor Njoku wrote from Owerri, Imo State
38— VANGUARD, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2018 vanguardnews @vanguardnews @vanguardnews Resurgence of rain worsens Oshodi-Apapa traffic gridlock By Evelyn Usman & Kingsley Adegboye LAGOS — THE relative respite enjoyed by motorists plying the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway following the intervention of the Federal and Lagos State Governments seems to have been cut short no thanks to persistent rainfalls experienced in the Lagos metropolis in recent time. The resurgence of the traffic gridlock following the rains has been compounded by the absence, from their duty posts, of security officials assigned to control trucks and other articulated vehicles and ensure orderliness on the dual carriageway. Indeed, security officials are hardly seen during the rush hour on the road, leaving trucks and tanker drivers to their devices. In most cases, they take over all lanes of the dual carriageway at the expense of other road users, who consequently suffer excruciating pains, while trying to navigate to their destinations. The situation is particularly pathetic when it is rainy and at night, as they take advantage of the situation to drive against traffic which results to confusion on the dual carriageway. Hoodlums descend on hapless motorists Consequently, the hoodlums often take advantage of slow-moving traffic to rob hapless commuters. The robbers employ various techniques for operations such as breaking side glasses of cars, distracting motorists’ attention to pick phones and other valuable items from their cars. At times, one of them will pretend to be crossing the road only to get the driver to stop and as soon he does, others will swoop on the vehicle to rob. Vanguard Editor attacked, robbed An Editor with Vanguard was attacked, on Monday, at Mile 2 inward Berger Yard. The hoodlums, who swooped on his vehicle gained access into the vehicle having shattered the side glass of his vehicle. They got away with valuables and money after the attack. Gridlock continues Traffic on major routes in and out of Apapa ports has grounded to a standstill. The stretch of the traffic Tankers and trucks on Oshodi-Apapa expressway as at yesterday had extended from Mile 2 to Tin Can Island Port with all the lanes on the ever-busy Apapa-Oshodi expressway blocked by trucks and tankers. Vanguard findings revealed that the resurgence of the gridlock was not far-fetched as only truck and tank drivers, who pay a certain amount of money to security officials, who pretend to be controlling them are given the right of passage to the port. A port security officer attached to one of the terminals at the Lagos Port Complex, LPC, Apapa accused security operatives of turning the gridlock situation to a moneyspinning business. Also, the traffic situation along the Apapa/Oshodi expressway reached its peak yesterday, as protesting tanker drivers blocked the ever busy route for hours, over alleged beating of one of their own to a coma a Naval officer. Consequently, motorists went through the most A BEOKUTA— PROTEST rocked the announcement of the Consensus Candidates list of All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ogun State as most of the supporters of the aspirants who lost out in the arrangement rejected the list. Some of the aggrieved members called the party leaders including the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun unprintable names as the governor hurriedly left the venue for Abuja. The atmosphere was charged when Governor Ibikunle Amosun began releasing the names of the successful candidates on horrifying moment as they were trapped for close to eight hours. News earlier filtered in that the driver was beaten to death. Narrating the incident, one of the tanker drivers, Ismaila Goje, said: “This is what we go through everyday. If we are coming from Ojora bridge, Ijora- Olopa and Marine road, they would stop us to collect money from us before allowing us to pass. If you think I am lying, just go to Mile Two bridge, inward Apapa and tell the security men that you are bringing your truck in, you would pay nothing less than N10,000 before they would allow the truck passage. “When you get to the Kirikiri and before you get to Coconut bus stop, they would collect between N1000 and N5000 at each point. They do it openly and at times, they would send touts to collect on their behalf. “Some naval men asked our driver to give them money and he said he had already given their colleagues before he got to that point. While still engaged with the naval personnel, his colleagues pounced on him, flogging him until he became unconscious. When they discovered he was motionless, they left him at that point.” The Lagos Zonal Chairman of NUPENG, Mr. Tayo Aboyeji, who confirmed the incident, said: “This has been a daily occurrence. We protested but with the intervention from the Navy High Command, we had to let go, in order to give them the benefit of the doubt.” Navy reacts When Vanguard contacted the Western Naval Command Information Officer, Commander, Chinwe Umar, on the alleged attack of the truck driver by a naval personnel, she said she was not aware of the incident. She however promised to get back after making the necessary findings. Protest rocks Ogun APC as Amosun releases consensus candidates lists By Daud Olatunji the consensus list at a meeting held at the Presidential lodge, Abeokuta. But Amosun only announced the National Assembly consensus candidates for the party ahead of the 2019 polls. Party members and leaders met at the Presidential Lodge in A b e o k u t a , yesterday, where the governor announced consensus candidates for the three senatorial seats and six of the nine seats for the House of Representatives. Vanguard observed that while some members hailed the governor over the choice of their preferred candidates, many others rejected the arrangement and threatened to obtain the forms to participate in the primaries. The consensus candidates for the three Senatorial Districts are the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun Central), Chief Lekan Mustapha (Ogun -East) and the Chief of Staff to the state governor, Mr. Tolu Odebiyi (Ogun- West) Others were the six consensus candidates for House of Representatives seats the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Suraj Adekunbi (Egbado North/Ipokia); former chairman of Ado- Odo/Ota, Mr. Rotimi Rahman (Ota). By Victor Ahiuma- Young L A G O S — FOLLOWING apprehension that the Federal Government was not prepared to approve a new national minimum wage for workers, indications, yesterday, emerged that organised labour had resolved to confront the government head on. Leaders of organised labour through Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC and United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, will today in Lagos, take decisive position on how to confront government. A terse invitation to Vanguard on today’s meeting reads: “NLC, TUC and ULC is organising a joint press conference on National Minimum Wage negotiations and matters arising on Wednesday.” It was gathered that labour leaders, who had been tolerating perceived government insincerity towards a new minimum wage, could no longer stomachFederal Government’s delay tactics after the time frame for the minimum wage negotiating committee to conclude its works lapsed last month (August) without government presenting its figure to the committee. It was gathered that on the last day when government was supposed to inform the committee of its figure, the government said it was a public holiday and that it would make its figure known at the next Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting on NEWS HOTLINES 018773962, 08052867058 Govt, Labour head for showdown over new minimum wage •NLC, TUC, ULC take decision today LAGOS—THE Yaba College of Technology Governing Council has challenged the Alumni Association of the College to support less privileged students with scholarships and the College through endowment funds. The Chairman, Governing Council of the foremost premier institution, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, gave this charge at the Alumni Lecture series/Awards titled: ‘Technical Education and National Development: Current and future Trend organised by the College and its Alumni Association recently at its Multipurpose Hall. Fagbemi, who was the September 5. At the meeting, Vanguard gathered that FEC did not arrive at any figure, but said it would beg labour for more time. Meanwhile, those in the know told Vanguard that government plans to delay announcing a new wage till the eve of the election when it will announce a bogus figure for election purposes and will repudiate it after the elections. A source said: “They will say there is no money to pay as it is being done by some state governments who have deliberately refused to pay not because there is no money, but they just do not want to pay. Part of government’s plans is that the current Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who is the Chairman of the Minimum Wage Committee, is planning to contest election in Anambra State. He has to resign to be eligible to contest. When he does that, it will throw the committee into crisis as government has to shop for a replacement which will also take some time. All these will enable the government buy the needed time ahead of the election.” A member of the minimum wage negotiating committee told Vanguard that “it is obvious that government has been buying time. The negotiations have suffered many postponements induced by government. Even from the body languages of the representatives of both federal and state governments, we can recognise delay tactics.” YabaTech Council tasks Alumni on sponsorship for indigent students guest of honour declared that Havard University is what it is today because of the huge endowment funds contributed by its Alumni Association. The guest speaker, Executive Secretary, Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board and former Rector, Lagos State Polytechnic, Engr. Olawunmi Akanmu Gasper in his presentation identified four major challenges facing technical education in Nigeria. In his address, the Rector of Yaba College of Technology, Engr. Femi Omokungbe said the College looks forward to benefiting from the experiences of its Alumni.