by Chinedu Asadu
Anthony Okogie, a former Catholic archbishop of Lagos, says Nigeria is back to the era of military dictatorship.
In a statement on Friday, Okogie said Nigeria’s leaders are distant from the citizens, and that the country needs leaders who listen to the cries of the people and who will not be afraid of dissenting opinions.
He also condemned the frequent disobedience of court by the current administration, and said leaders must be reminded that “they cannot enforce laws if they cannot obey the law”.
“If the executive disobeys court rulings, and if it intimidates and humiliates the judiciary, then we are back to the era when a military junta made laws and interpreted them without any regard for fundamental human rights,” the cardinal said.
He said for democracy to be in force, those elected to represent the people must have a listening ear, and must not usurp the powers to accuse and convict at the same time.
“In a democracy, those who govern are chosen by the people to represent the people. And if they are to represent the people, they must listen to the people. Not only do true democrats listen, they also are not afraid of dissenting opinions,” he said.
“They do not arrogate to themselves the power to accuse, arrest, prosecute and convict. But can we candidly say we have democrats at the helm of affairs in this country at this point in time?
“How can we claim to live in a democracy when presidential spokespersons tell us the presidency is always right?”
Okogie also decried the worsening insecurity in the country, and said Nigeria has returned to a “sinful past” when citizens could be abducted and locked up in detention without trial “under the pretext of acting in the interest of national security”.