Degrading the rule of law

When the president said that the rule of law can wait until national security has been established, it sounded like a travesty, distorting or debasing the place of the Judiciary as one of the arms of the government. And if it takes such a long time as has been the case for the issue of national security to be settled, does it mean the rule of law should still be in abeyance and wait. By that statement, he placed his military constituency above the Justice system as an estate of the realm. Indeed this is the ultimate danger in a military man making pretences about being a democrat to the point of heading it in a country.
The implication of the statement cannot be appreciated until what we mean by national security and rule of law are fully explained and adopted.
I am not so sure the president is on the same page with the rest of us on the definition of national security and rule if law. If national security means more than soldiers crushing Boko haram and rebellious groups/individuals like that, then no one will be right placing it above the rule of law. This is a matter of logic, which lawyers are more competent to discuss. Not being a lawyer, I can only see it from a layman’s angle. What does the rule of law add up to? What does national security encompass? What does it mean?
Onyeike, my friend, a motor mechanic, told me a story that illuminated the whole matter.
There was this village community where a man decided to mobilize people against the traditional ruler. The traditional ruler would have none of such nonsense. Who is the stupid rebel to challenge his authority? He decided to deal with the idiot summarily, once and for all. The thing is to eliminate him and close him up. In order not to be caught by the law he decided to do it secretly because if he killed somebody, he would be sentenced to death and killed. The law would take its course. His mind kept telling him that.
As if his pastor knew what he was plotting in his mind, it was the subject of his sermon the day he went to church one of the Sundays. The biblical laws and the secular laws of the state condemn his plans to kill. To have even harbored the thought in his mind, the word of God condemns him for that. The ruler was between and betwixt in this matter. But stubbornly he had his honor and prestige to protect in the matter. If he could just eliminate this audacious challenger who could dethrone him if he allowed him to live, only then would he ever feel secure. Even the pastor and anybody who could remind him of his contemplation to kill being wrongful or unlawful might as well be on the line for elimination. The traditional ruler saw nothing wrong with that. Anybody who thought of removing him is a threat to the security of the community and should die. Security is his tantamount to his perpetuation and unquestionability as the ruler.
This ruler went along with this evil mind to kill until the president came up with the talk that national security was more important than the rule of law. This boosted the resolve of the local ruler to eliminate his foes. My friend paused and hoped I would make an input into his line of reasoning.
And I said suggestively, but it is the rule law that made him what he is – a traditional ruler. Isn’t it the rule of law that should sustain him there? My friend went back to the traditional ruler. He put the question to him:
You do agree (isn’t it?) that Boko haram and people like that are the threat to national security and should be eliminated? What is applicable to the nation in this respect is also applicable to the community?
Yes, said the ruler. It is the same as the stupid man and his group who are fighting against my rule in this community. I must deal with them, another way of saying he must eliminate them. When he does that people will not know how it happened. They won’t link the traditional ruler with it.  Yes. The president is right. If he begins to talk of the so-called rule of law, he will be removed through insurrection and forgotten, while the insurgents ride on.
The president is dealing with those threaten the nation’s security openly and officially. The traditional ruler is doing his secretly.
But it won’t be possible to eliminate all opposition in life. When one is eliminated, others will raise their ugly heads; my friend had told the traditional ruler.
My friend said that national security has wide ramifications which surprisingly the president and the traditional ruler fail to appreciate. We have for instance food security, economic security, political security, diplomatic security, environmental security and others we cannot remember now. At the individual level our identity, personality, culture and psychological stability are part of our national security.
On the other hand, the rule of law is long grammar. It is the academic way of saying a simple thing. There is a way things are ordered in nature for peace and justice to reign. Without it life would be a reign of terror.

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