Lobby group drags Nigeria to UN for disobeying courts

Monday May 14 2018


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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) lobby group has petitioned Nigeria at the United Nations over persistent disobedience of court rulings and orders.

SERAP singled out the continued detention of Shiite Muslim leader Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and was also seeking the release of Sheikh El-Zakzaky's wife as well as the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col (Rtd) Sambo Dasuki.

Lobby group deputy director Timothy Adewale said the Federal Government was disobeying court orders with impunity.

The petition is dated May 11, 2018 and addressed to UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Mr Diego Garcia-Sayan.

At least two other court rulings SERAP recently obtained from the Federal High Court have been disobeyed by the Nigerian authorities. One involves a suit number FHC/IKJ/CS/248/2011 delivered in March 2016 where Justice Mohammed Idris ordered the Federal Government to widely publish details on the spending of recovered stolen funds by successive regimes since the return of democracy in 1999.

Sheikh El-Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), was detained after members of the Shiite group clashed with soldiers in Zaria in December 2015, while Col Dasuki was accused of diverting $2.1 billion belonging to the Federal Government while he served as NSA.

SERAP asked the UN to uphold the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and the country’s international obligations on the protection of the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

The organisation said: “Selective enforcement of court orders, if not urgently addressed, would ultimately put the rule of law in Nigeria under siege.”

Many state governments in Nigeria also continue to disobey court orders.

“Other court orders that the government continue to disobey include: the Ecowas court judgment ordering the Nigerian authorities to provide free and quality education to all Nigerian children without discrimination," says the SERAP petition.

The government also disobeyed the courts ordering the authorities to establish education banks to assist poor students to obtain loans to pursue tertiary education and the restoration of people’s bank to give loans without collaterals to underprivileged citizens.