Democracy will die in Nigeria if we fail to act – Ekweremadu
Deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu has said that Nigeria’s democracy may die if nothing is done to save it.
Ekweremadu spoke at the 2018 Law Week of the NBA held in Abuja.
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The deputy Senate president said he was surprised at silence of the Nigerian Bar Association over what he described as clear aggression against the National Assembly.
He called on the association to speak up in order to save the country’s democracy.
He said: “Our society is in despair today; democracy is receding; rule of law appears to be at the crossroads; and the killings across the land have become so massive, frequent, and mindless. Politicians that were once friends have turned our politics into a war of attrition.
“Our elections, in many instances, have been highly militarised, with some security officers accused of physically assaulting the staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Nigerians have watched on live television, the raid of the hallowed chamber of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the carting away of its mace by thugs.
“As if emboldened by that, political thugs stormed the premises of the Rivers State High Court. The nation watched with great concern the heavy and prolonged gunfire by armed thugs, who, but for the resistance put up by the people of Rivers State, had virtually succeeded in preventing the court from carrying out its legitimate duties. Today, to hold a different political opinion appears tantamount to a political suicide.
“The Bar has not uttered any word of condemnation of these and other clear acts of aggression against the legislature or the judiciary in recent years.
“We must bear in mind that democracy does not die in a day. Democracy dies a slow and painful death. Democracy will die if the independence of the judiciary is destroyed, the National Assembly turned to a rubber stamp, the media gagged, the Civil Society Organisations sucked-in, and the electoral umpire annexed.
“But it is not in anybody’s interest, let alone the Bar, for our democracy to fail. However, we cannot fold our hands, keep sealed lips, and expect heavens to play our parts as lawyers. So, the Bar must rise in defense of democracy.
“There is no sitting on the fence. The poet, Dante Algheri, warns that the hottest parts of hell are reserved for those, who in the time of moral crisis preserved their neutrality. The Bar must speak up against impunity. The Bar must be heard loud and clear in condemnation of desecration and intimidation, and annexation of key institutions of democracy.
“The Bar must stand up in defense of the rule of law, separation of power, rights, liberties, and other laudable tenets without which democracy becomes an empty barrel, a civilianised dictatorship, and, above all, the Bar must continue to promote justice, equity and fairness to sustain our democracy.”
Meanwhile, the National Assembly on Tuesday, June 5, issued a warning to President Muhammadu Buhari, saying he must be held accountable for the actions of his appointees and must be ready to sanction those that carry out any act that will ridicule or endanger the country and democracy.