(From Vanguard (Nigeria) - AAGM)
Byline: Chijioke Ogham-Emeka
The concept of Rule of Law has over the centuries, from its perceived early Greek origin, assumed a centrality of stage that today it is discernible as a slogan of even the most oppressive governments. Even the government of late General Sani Abacha pontificated on the Rule of Law. I remember watching Abacha's Works and Housing Minister, Major General Abdulkarim Adisa (after a demolition exercise) gleefully telling the Press that his ministry had employed the element of surprise to prevent any of the 'recalcitrant' occupants of the demolished 'illegal' structures from going to obtain a court injunction to forestall the demolition. The minister had then hinged his hastened pre-emptive strike on the fact that if the demolition exercise had proceeded in spite of a court order, had he delayed, enemies would have said the government flouted a court order. Yet, "this government obeys court orders", he had then posited.
Adisa's claim was to the observance of the Rule of Law. Then, Adisa was not Walter Offonagoro to speak the mind of the oppressive regime but I assume he was competent enough to hold brief for a government he held an important portfolio in. I still wonder what Adisa would say about the fact that on two occasions the Court gave bail to the then detained president-elect, Bashorun MKO Abiola but their regime of 'obedience to Court orders' held him captive until General Abdulsalami Abubakar's government inherited him. The latter regime knew of the subsisting Court orders giving Abiola bail but never enforced them until the man whose only 'offence' was winning a free and fair election, was conveniently murdered "to balance the equation." Abubakar had explained he had just made up his mind to release him only to discover he had died "apparently of heart attack". Yet if …