As you know, I do not use my blog as a platform to discuss divisive issues especially politics. This is because I respect the right of every individual to hold their belief and believe in their political philosophies. However, I lived through the military era in Nigeria and people disappeared for criticising the government.
In those days, magazines and newspapers were the frontline because most information and opinion were expressed through them. As a result many editors paid dearly with their lives and loss of freedom. It was also the time when brave young lawyers like Gani Fawehinmi and Femi Falana became prominent for not bowing their heads.
Today the means of expression is social media. On a global scale, there are platforms to get information, take a stand and express your view. These platforms have their rules but are overall built on the principles of freedom of expression.
This freedom is both enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution and within international treaties like the UN Declaration on Human Rights, adopted by Nigeria. Which explains why the first act of any military government is to first suspend the Constitution because what they will do is against the constitutional provisions.
A democracy on the other hand, gets its entire existence from a constitution. The right of the citizens are protected by the Constitution and it serves as the guardrails against excesses by any government that is established therein. In essence, it tells you that your right to life, privacy, beliefs and expression is sacrosanct and protected. Then it proceeds to set out the only ground upon which any citizen can be deprived of those rights.
Every known scholar has rightly posited, that a mere announcement by an Attorney General does not equate to a law properly passed by the country’s legislature. Our set of criminal laws also have to be passed by Senate and contain written penalties for it to be enforceable.
This does not mean that a government cannot act in an illegal or illegitimate manner. They can do so until they are estopped by the courts after this is challenged. It is the nuisance and inconvenience of the lengthy court process that makes it prudent to comply with an obviously unlawful order by government authorities while you challenge it in court to have it upturned.
Civil disobedience and protest is also recognised but has it’s own set of risks. I salute those with the courage to use this approach at risk to themselves. The bottom line is that whichever route you choose, an unlawful order must be challenged by every well meaning Nigerian.
Beyond this please do not ever forget those who attempt to enslave the populace in a democracy. They rely on our collective short attention span to perpetuate nonsense in the hope that you will forget before the next election. Surprise them for once.