Says Democracy Is About Free Choices And Not Coercion
Says Acts Of Thuggery, Voter Manipulation By Politicians Amount To Treason.
A Senior Lawyer, Jibrin Samuel Okutepa, SAN, has stated in an article he shared on 6th of April that there is no doubt that the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as Amended) is supreme. That is why the Constitution itself proclaims its supremacy under Section 1(1) which read thus:
This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
No one is exempted from the binding force of the Constitution. All institutions and persons derive their legitimacy from the Constitution. Nigerian political class and politicians are bound by the Constitution.
This came in response to the debate of whether the Labour Party Vice-Presidential contestant, Datti-Baba Ahmad was guilty of treason after he had asked that the Chief Justice of Nigeria should not swear in the President-elect, Bola Ahmad Tinubu come May 29th. Giving Constitutional fireworks, the learned silk had supported his position and stated that:
Apart from the Supremacy of the Constitution, the Constitution states that the government of Nigeria at all levels shall be by democratic means. That is what we have agreed to be the mode of choosing our leaders and governments at all levels.
Section 1(2) of the Constitution provides that, the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any persons or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except by the provisions of this Constitution.
Section 14 (1) of the Constitution emphasizes that the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice and section 14 (2) (a) of the Constitution boldly declared that sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through the Constitution derives all its powers and authority.
The Constitution further emphasizes in sections 14(2)(b) and (c) that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government and the participation of the people in their government shall be ensured.
He proceeded further to state that the said Constitution guaranteed freedom to Nigerians to make choices and to express themselves without being threatened with penal sanctions and that is under Section 17 (1) where it was stated that the State social order is founded on ideals of Freedom, Equality, and Justice.
The right of Nigerians to express their views on any issue including blatant violation of the constitution in our democratic journey is a fundamental right. No Nigerian who sees or perceives perversion of our constitution should be threatened with the offence of treason or treasonable felony.
“Section 39 (1) of the Constitution is clear” He mentioned. It provides that: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”
“For me, anyone who supports the perversion or violation of the Nigerian constitution in the Nigerian democratic journey for pure partisan selfish consideration is engaging in treason and treasonable felony. Nigerian political class who hires thugs, or who aided and abetted the truncation of the will of the people should be those to be arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for treason and not those who voice out their feelings about the obvious perversion of the Constitution of Nigeria through electoral malfeasance”
To hit the nail on the head of his legal anger. He argued further that: “Those who have refused to follow due process or allow the will and choices of the people to prevail before, and during elections in their quest for leadership positions are those who are engaging in treason and treasonable felony”.
“Democracy is about free choices and not coercion or force. Let us be truthful to ourselves. Most Nigerian politicians have no regard for the Nigerian constitution. They have no regard for the sovereignty of the people. That is why we see imposition during party primaries. We see thuggery and thugs during elections. What about vote buying? These are real acts of treason against the Nigerian constitution’. He concluded