EL-RUFAI'S NEWFOUND LOVE FOR THE RULE OF LAW!
BY HASSAN ABUBAKAR KONTAGORA
Former FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has lately dominated the
headlines, thanks to his allegations that the Senate is disrespecting
court orders. Reacting to a statement attributed to Senator Obiora of the
Senate committee on FCT, in which he said the courts could not stop the
lawmakers from discharging their constitutional duties, the former
demolition expert accused the Senate of intimidating the judiciary.
Currently in court to stop the Senate from implementing its report on the
FCT under his tenure, El-Rufai is challenging his indictment and the
decision to ban him from holding public office for fifty years by the
committee that investigated him.
Mallam Nasir expressed surprise why the lawmakers cannot obey the courts
in the country by showing a determination to implement the report, which
indicted him and demanded him to account for 32 billion naira that accrued
from the sale of federal government houses in Abuja . Reacting through his
spokesman, Alhaji Abbas Mohammed, the former FCT Minister criticized the
Senate for setting a dangerous precedent.
Many Nigerians reacted with amusement and utter shock at El-Rufai¢s
audacity to accuse anyone of disobeying the courts. Is the former FCT
Minister suffering from perpetual amnesia or is he simply insulting the
intelligence of Nigerians? While he was in office, El-Rufai had the most
notorious reputation for contravening court orders, which advised him to
halt the demolition of shops and houses that became the subject of
In fact, the new FCT Minister, Dr. Aliyu Modibbo inherited over five
hundred court cases against the Ministry as a result of El-Rufai¢s
reckless, remorseless and habitual disregard for court injunctions.
Despite a court order, which was duly served on his Ministry, the former
Minister of FCT went ahead to demolish the headquarters of Bullet
Construction Company at Area 11, in Abuja . You can imagine the disruption
and huge material and financial losses the company suffered because
El-Rufai was demonically impatient to listen to reason or common sense.
He was frequently determined to have his way in this stubborn but
senseless pursuit and he believed the courts should go to hell. As a
student of Obasanjo¢s politics of recklessness and arrogance, El-Rufai was
freely disobeying court orders, bringing anguish and tears to his victims.
His zeal for duty exceeded reason, good judgement and common sense,
thereby making the courts look stupid in the eyes of Nigerians. In fact,
even under the military rule, Nigerian courts had not witnessed such level
of arrant disrespect from top public office holders.
The death of the former chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice
Bashir Sambo, was the worst example of reckless use of power by El-Rufai.
Justice Sambo was offered his official residence for sale, which he
accepted and duly paid. He sold the house after purchasing it but he was
later told by El-Rufai that the house was wrongly offered to him for
purchase. According to El-Rufai, the house was not intended for sale and
that it was an error offering the property to late Justice Sambo in the
El-Rufai opted to return his money after the late Justice Sambo disposed
of the house. Justice Sambo headed for the court to stop the former
Minister of FCT from ejecting him. Despite a court injunction, which was
pasted on the property and duly served on him or his agents, El-Rufai
directed his men to go ahead to eject the late Justice Sambo. His property
was thrown out in broad daylight and the old man shed an ocean of tears of
anguish. Rarely did Nigerians ever witness such level of humiliation and
inhumanity unleashed on an elderly statesman.
Sambo¢s humiliation was too emotionally grievous to bear and the old man
eventually developed a sudden heart ailment. He was flown to Cairo for
medical treatment but he died. The death of Justice Sambo jolted the
conscience of any Nigerian that respects human dignity. Even as he
appeared before the Senate committee on FCT to explain the incident,
El-Rufai had no credible defence to justify the cruel treatment meted out
to the late Jusice Sambo.
If El-Rufai had listened to reason and obeyed the court order on Justice
Sambo¢s property, the old man could probably have been alive today,
enjoying peace with his family. But his life was cruelly terminated
because of El-Rufai¢s over-zealousness and utter disrespect for court
injunctions. Why until now, is El-Rufai recognizing the importance of
respecting court orders and their significance to the growth of orderly
societies? Because his rights are now affected, the former FCT Minister is
preaching the rule of law.
However, let him be reminded that Nigerians are no fools; they have keen
memories of his misdeeds and blatant disregard for court injunctions. Does
he have any moral qualification or the credibility to preach to the Senate
about the rule of law, which he openly and frequently abused while he was
in office? Ironically, El-Rufai is in London doing a law programme. It is
like professing a religion without obeying its precepts. Nigerians are
even angry why any court should entertain El-Rufai¢s petition against the
Senate. Those who destroyed the temple of the rule of law have no reason
to enjoy its shelter. We are extraordinarily patient in this country and
that is why we are afflicted with El-Rufai and other like-minded heartless
public figures. He rendered thousands homeless, jobless and hopeless
through reckless disregard for court orders. Does he therefore, deserve
our sympathy now that he is facing a possible ban from holding public
office in the future?
Hassan Abubakar Kontagora,
No. 29, Awwal Ibrahim Road ,
Suleja, Niger State.