Adegboruwa To FG: You Cannot Lean On Asari Dokubo Decision To Perpetuate Court Contempt

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Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, a Lagos State based lawyer and a Human Rights Activist, has said that the Federal Government cannot lean on the decision in the case of Asari Dokubo to perpetuate contempt of court as in the case of El Zak Zaky.
According to him, Asari Dokubo was charged with treasonable felony, punishable with death.
“In our general jurisprudence in Nigeria, bail (enforcement of the liberty of a suspect) is only granted upon exceptional circumstances in capital offenses. This has been part of our laws for a long time.
“This is what the Supreme Court restated in this case, namely that, any citizen accused of trying to overrun the nation may not enforce his right to liberty except he shows exceptional circumstances.
“Now this is an exception to the general constitutional provision that anyone charged with a criminal office is entitled to bail.
“Our main argument then is that in a democracy, you cannot elevate the rule of exception to be the norm of governance generally.
He also stated that in the circumstance of the President’s speech at the Bar Conference, he wrongly stated (with due respect to Mr President) this exception to be the general rule.
“So our point of objection, therefore, is that it is when a leader has other hidden intentions (bending towards dictatorship) that he falls in love with the exception to the general rule, as his policy for governance.
“And even when the rights and liberties of the individual are to be derogated from in the national interest, it is still the court that will make that determination, not the President or any security or law enforcement agency, as was the case with the former DSS Director.
Indeed in Asari Dokubo’s case, that decision was taken by the Supreme Court, within the ambit of the exercise of his right of appeal, still under the rule of law and due process.
“And when the courts have weighed the options and decided that the citizen’s right should be enforced by granting him bail or release, such as in the case of Dasuki or El Zak Zaky, then you cannot turn around to rely on Asari Dokubo’s case, to perpetuate contempt of court and disregard for a lawful order of court.
So the Supreme Court decided Asari Dokubo, rightly or wrongly, but the court NEVER gave the President or the Executive arm the powers to determine how, when and if a citizen’s rights should be circumscribed under national security or national interest.
“When that decision is taken ultimately by the court as in Asari Dokubo’s case, then the rule of law has prevailed.
“This is our main point, and not that you arrest a journalist and lock him up for two years without trial, under the bogus allegation that he is threat to national security,” he said.