Some Nigerian Senior Advocates say President Muhammadu Buhari should be ready to answer for his actions next year.
Their comments came after the President said on Channels Television on Wednesday that anyone who asked him to testify in any court after he leaves office would be in trouble because he had already recorded all important issues.
“It’s not my problem,” he said when asked about the 2023 elections.
When asked if he didn’t care who succeeded him, he replied, “No, let him come.” I made sure everything was recorded.
“Nobody should ask me to testify in any court, because everything is on record. I ensured it. We have all the facts on file.”
A group of Nigerian Senior Advocates, led by Femi Falana, argued that the constitution does not grant immunity to former presidents, and that Buhari should be prepared to be questioned when he leaves office.
Falana said Buhari was misquoted in that part of the interview and that orders against him that could not be enforced due to his immunity would be enforced when he leaves office.
He said the President would be held accountable locally and globally.
As reported recently by The Guardian, the lawyer said Buhari was already being investigated by a Nigerian government agency while still enjoying immunity from prosecution.
Falana also mentioned the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project’s court victories against the Buhari regime.
“He (Buhari) is already being called to account not to mention after he leaves office,” he said. These orders will be followed.
“More accountability cases will be filed between now and 2023. In light of the avalanche of petitions alleging extrajudicial killings by security forces, the International Criminal Court’s Special Prosecutor is likely to open investigations involving top Federal officials.
“Even while in power, the BPP indicts him. ‘You and (Rotimi) Amaechi can’t award this contract,’ they said in court. He has immunity now, but not when he leaves office. So he should expect to be held accountable. And if the records exist, he must present them. Those records aren’t public.
“They don’t always respond to Freedom of Information Act requests. Where are the records, he says?
“Even though he (Buhari) is in office enjoying immunity and has all the forces, instruments of oppression and intimidation… and people are suing him, demanding accountability,” Falana said.
His comment displeased Adegboruwa, who called it an attempt to keep his successor in office despite the fact that his immunity under Section 308 of the constitution ends when his term ends.
According to him, the President has used style to threaten his successor, which is unusual for a President who claims to be fighting corruption. The person fighting corruption cannot avoid investigation or probe, as this would contradict the President’s open declaration of victory in the anti-corruption war.
“His immunity is limited while in office, and he can be arrested like any other citizen after that. No law protects an ex-public officer from being called before a court to testify or account for their tenure. The President should expect to be summoned frequently to account for his tenure; the railway project, Chinese loans, huge amount spent on electricity and we are only getting darkness; the President has a lot to account for, so he should be ready. He should be ready.”
Adegboruwa noted that in countries where Nigeria’s democracy was copied, some presidents had to waive their immunity.
“I believe if the President has nothing to hide, he should be the first to appear in court if his tenure in office is being questioned.
If he doesn’t want to be held accountable, he can be forced to appear in court after his tenure ends. This is allowed by the law of evidence, and the constitution does not extend immunity beyond office,” he added.
Ozekhome went on to describe the President’s statement as a show of impunity and disregard for the law.
On May 29, 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari loses his immunity under section 308 of the 1999 constitution. He is now a regular citizen, liable to be subpoenaed to ‘answer any questions’. He can’t escape it.
“He said everything is recorded. That’s fine. But if more information or proof is needed, he can be summoned just like any other citizen.
Because he is the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, he is more obligated than other citizens. This attitude shows contempt for the rule of law and due process. I find it intolerable. I humbly denounce it.
A former Nigerian President had never been questioned after leaving office, according to 83-year-old Senior Advocate Robert Clarke.
“It is a difficult situation. Because it hasn’t happened yet, maybe the President is feeling that way because he can’t account for his actions while in office.