Alexander Okere, Benin
A former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Mr. Kabiru Turaki, on Monday faulted the statement by President Muhammadu Buhari that the principle of rule of law must be subject to the supremacy of national interest.
Turaki, a presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, described Buhari’s position as unacceptable as the rights protected by Nigeria’s Constitution remained paramount in a democracy and not subject to the sentiments of a person or group of individuals.
The President had while addressing participants at the opening of the Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference in Abuja stated that the individual rights of persons allegedly responsible for actions threatening national security and public interest must take second place for the greater good of the society.
But the former minister, who spoke in Benin, Edo State, shortly after meeting with delegates of the PDP, said, “What we operate in Nigeria today is a constitutional democracy and we have a constitution and the Constitution is the ground norm and what is supposed to govern the activities, actions of government and, indeed, principal officers in the government.
“So, a situation whereby anybody that is supposedly elected, and no matter the office that person had been elected into, will stand up and look at Nigerians and say that the rights as recognised and protected by the Constitution would be subject to certain sentimental consideration by any other person, is highly unacceptable.
“It is a wrong view, it is a wrong notion, it is unconstitutional and certainly not something that will be acceptable to us. The Constitution recognises certain classes of rights, which have been grouped as fundamental, and there are certain rights also, which you may call economic rights, which are not ordinarily enforceable.”
He further stated that, as practised in other democratic societies, the provisions of the Constitution could not be overturned to suit the intentions of a group of individuals.
According to him, no activity of any aspect of governance could be said to be done outside the parameters of the Constitution as it would be totally wrong.