Unic Press UK: Ben Nwabueze, a professor and one of Nigeria’s leading experts in law, has criticized the government statement on 6th June 2018, in which, President Buhari announced that 12th June every year shall replace 29th May as Democracy Day in Nigeria, the Guardian Newspaper and the Daily Post, Nigeria have reported.
In his reaction denouncing the president’s statement, which was expressed in a treatise “President Buhari’s 6th June, 2018 Declaration of A New Democracy Day And The Rule of Law”, Professor Ben Nwabueze said:
“The question again arises whether the posthumous awards of the national honours of GCFR and GCON to Chief Abiola and Chief Fawehinmi respectively accord or are consistent with the law of the land – National Honours Act. The Act does not, by its express provisions, authorize posthumous awards, nor do those provisions give any indication that they contemplate posthumous awards. The indication is indeed to the contrary; it (the indication) comes from the provision that “a person”, meaning a living, not a dead person, “shall not be eligible for appointment to any rank of an Order unless he is a citizen of Nigeria”, and that “a person shall be appointed to a particular rank of an Order when he receives from the President in person at an investiture held for the purpose (a) the insignia appropriate for that rank; and (b) an instrument under the hand of the President and the public seal of the Federation declaring him to be appointed to that rank. The words “when he receives from the President in person” exclude posthumous awards, a view that derives support from the fact that no posthumous award had ever been made in the past to any one before the awards to Chief Abiola and Chief Fawehinmi. There is, however, a provision in the Act that seems to give a lot of leeway to the President. It says: “The President may, by warrant, make provision for the award of titles of honour, decorations and dignities”. It may be that posthumous awards are not authorized by the Act as a matter of policy decision. If so the Act needs to be amended to change the policy.
“President Buhari could not have been more disdainful, and more careless, he could not have made a greater mockery, of the Rule of Law than by his announcement on June 6, 2018 of the decision of the Federal Government that “henceforth June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day”, knowing, as he well does, that May 29 is enacted by law, the Public Holidays Act, as Democracy Day, and that that could not be changed to June 12, except by amendment of the Act, not by mere presidential Declaration; and that his wishes, intentions and whims, however pure and benevolent, are not law, as in the days of the absolutist military dictatorship when laws could be made simply by word of mouth, later to be put in written form by Decree or Edict.
“It is incredible that, knowing all this but still believing himself to be an absolute ruler, he went ahead to organize the farce of commemoration ceremony on June 12 at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa. His perception of himself as absolute ruler is antithetical to constitutional democracy, and constitutes a danger to the country. He should be made to shed that perception of himself.“