By Hon Yusuf Ali
When President Muhammadu Buhari took oath of office on May 29, 2015 and said he is for no one and for everyone, not a few Nigerians had a rekindled hope that Nigeria has finally gone back to the path of rectitude. His assurance to right many wrongs of the past and end impunity that has over the years replaced accepted ethics was then like a soothing balm to many who were nursing wounds from impunity and abuse of power as well as flagrant breach of rule of law.
However, after a year in office, the inability of this government to curb the excesses and recklessness of its officials especially those of Federal Ca administration is alarming to say the least.
The trend that is happening today within the FCT administration is a sharp contrast to the whole essence of this administration —respect for the rule of law—that is being put in place. The rule of law in this present administration remains questionable, especially in cases where government officials have used their positions of power and influence to intimidate and harass ordinary citizens.
It must be stated here, that the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, a man of noble character must be alive to his responsibilities and act fast before some selfish civil servants become clogs in the wheel of his progress in the nation’s capital. He must as matter of national interest, the interest of the ordinary Nigerian and his own hard earned reputation curb the excesses of his Permanent Secretary, Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye. The Perm Sec, for all intent and purposes, is hell bent at bringing hardship to the residents of Abuja if not called to order.
How can a government that professes strict adherence to the rule of law allow its officials to act recklessly especially on a matter that is before a court of law? This leaves much to be desired from this administration.
Going only by what is happening today, many observers have concluded that the FCT Minister might have simply abdicated his responsibility of administering the capital city to an ambitious and corrupt civil servant, whose sole aim is to enrich himself by whatever means at the expense of law abiding citizens.
Examples of these excesses that take place almost on a day-to-day basis are many. One that readily comes to mind is the mindless demolition of a garden on Wednesday November 16, 2016. An innocent Nigerian became a victim of this reckless official.
His company filed a case in court seeking an order restraining the Permanent Secretary of FCT, the Minister and all their officials from tempering with his legitimate property duly allocated to him since 2007.
Having put forward their argument for such an order to be granted, the FCDA lawyers did not oppose such move knowing the position of the law in that regard. The judge also promised to give an accelerated hearing to the matter, but because of the high level of impunity and lawlessness of the Permanent Secretary, he refused to wait for the determination of the matter, and decided to take the matter into his hands by ordering the Department of Development Control to go ahead and demolish the garden.
This was even against the legal advice of the Solicitor General of the FCT, who advised that the demolition shouldn’t be carried out because the case was still being heard in court.
In any case, “the purpose of the issuance and service of court processes on a party is to bring the said processes to his notice and afford him an opportunity to react thereto, any defect would amount to breach of the affected party’s right to fair hearing and would render the proceedings a nullity.”
But in this particular case, the judge had barely made a pronouncement on the interlocutory hearing when the Permanent Secretary instructed the Department of Development Control to storm the garden and destroy it.
The level of impunity prevalent among FCT officials especially the Permanent Secretary is no longer a secret. Therefore, the Minister needs to wake up to his responsibilities as an agent of change and a beacon of hope for the masses and check these excess and recklessness of this singular person before he taints the image of this administration as a whole.
The FCT Minister can be held for “criminal negligence”, because by not stopping the excesses, would amount to agreeing to what is going on.
We therefore call on the Malam Muhammad Musa Bello to look into the official recklessness of his man and address the issue forthwith. Failure to act will amount to causing huge financial burden to the FCT in terms of settling avoidable judgement debts arising from litigation.
Hon Yusuf Ali, (Raba gadama ) writes from Abuja