As former South African president Nelson Mandela once stated: “to deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”. Therefore, Mr Buhari has to publicly recommit to human rights, the rule of law, and the fight against corruption. He should make clear that his government won’t tolerate impunity for repression and human rights violations and abuses, not only in words but in action.
Mr. Buhari and his government should immediately lift the restriction on Mr Sowore, and allow him to re-join his family; drop bogus charges against activists and peaceful protesters, and immediately and unconditionally release all those still being detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights.
Mr. Buhari should immediately send back CAMA 2020 to the National Assembly so that this draconian law can be repealed and brought into conformity with the country’s international human rights obligations. And he should instruct his Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN to obey all court orders, including those obtained by anti-corruption watchdog Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), and human rights lawyer Femi Falana, SAN.
Mr. Buhari and his government ought to learn from John Locke’s dictum that “Where-ever law ends, tyranny begins”. Rather than continuing to repress human rights, the government should show that it can genuinely tackle systemic corruption and advance people’s well-being.
Kolawole Olaniyan, author of Corruption and Human Rights Law in Africa, is legal adviser at Amnesty International’s International Secretariat, London.