Gowon: Judges Arrest, Could be a Threat to Democracy

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Paul Obi in Abuja
Former military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), yesterday said the invasion of judges’ houses in  gestapo-style and their subsequent arrest by the Department of State Services  (DSS) could be a threat to democracy if the federal government allows security agencies to operate outside their purview.

The former Head of State stated this during the 20th anniversary of Nigeria Prays in Abuja.
He bemoaned the recent slide in the application of force by government agencies particularly, in civil matters, calling for a more democratic approach to such issues.

Gowon said: “Honestly, it is a serious thing and I hope that the government would give directives to the operatives not to go outside the precepts and the law because if the situation is mishandled, it can be a threat to democracy.

“We pray for better solution to those problems; we pray the government should look for ways and means to deal with this problem of reccession which I know they are doing.

“I can assure you that I saw the president before going to Botswana for the golden jubilee of their independence and one of the things we discussed was the concern of the people as far as the economic situation is concerned. He was honesty to say that he knows about these problems and that he and members of his government are doing all they can to find solution to this problem. Discussed the economic situation.”

He explained that governing “is not easy, I am talking from personal experience, theses things are not achieved overnight and a lot of Nigerians expect the problem to be solved within a day or two because we got to go through the reasons we are having this recession.

“It is obvious that because the price of oil keeps coming down so low, at a time, oil sold for $150 per barrel but now you struggle to get it at $50 barrels also lack of other things like industries which needs to be established to help.

“We missed from some of these things some years back, that is why industries, businesses are unable to make up for the shortfall of revenue from oil but I know every effort is being made to address the problem.  Let us give government that time and keep reminding them that there is this problem and they got to do whatever they can to  solve it.

“Let us cooporate by helping to ensure that the government hears the concerns and do something about it, criticise constructively don’t just condemn outright,”

This came as the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria  (CBCN) yesterday said the gestapo-style invasion and subsequent arrest of judges across the country did not portray Nigeria in good light, arguing that, Nigeria is not a banana republic.

CBCN President and Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama, speaking on the arrest, insisted that the rule of law must be followed notwithstanding the culpability of those involved in corruption cases.

Kaigama explained that at several official meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Catholic Bishops had impressed it on the president to always adhere strictly to the rule of law.

“We have been very clear with the president in our various meetings that the real law must be upheld and there should be no sentiments in the application of the rule of law. We are not in a system of government where people are just fished out of selfish or political interest.

“It should be clear that people are guilty before they are arrested and if they are found to be guilty there should also be no sentiments. This issue of ‘they are arrested because they belong to a party or to a particular geographical area and others’ is why Nigeria has refused to move forward. Whether President or Ex President if you breach the law, you are a target for legal action. In Nigeria we’re not used to that.