Security more important than rule of law, human rights — Nigeria’s Customs chief

Comptoller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Hamid Ali, addressing the agency's personnel

Hameed Ali, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, has said that Nigerians should forget the rule of law and constitutional protections of their fundamental rights where matters of security are concerned.

Mr Ali’s position appeared to reinforce the position of President Muhammadu Buhari and Attorney-General Abubakar Malami — both of whom have separately expressed the belief that security takes precedence over the rule of law.

“When it comes to security, all laws take back a seat,” Mr Ali reportedly said at a press briefing on border closure Monday, the Nation reported.

“We want make sure that our people are protected. You must be alive and well for you to begin to ask for your rights. Your rights come when you are well and alive.

“Go and [ask] the people in Maiduguri when Boko Haram was harassing their lives, the only question was survival, there is no question of right. This time Nigeria must survive first then before we begin to ask for our rights,” the Lagos-based paper cited the Customs chief as emphasising at length.

Mr Buhari drew controversy when he said at a conference of the Nigerian Bar Association last year that his government will continue to prioritise national security over the rule of law in relation to allegations of a crackdown on political opponents by his government.

Shortly afterward, Mr Malami, the nation’s chief law officer, also said in an interview that the government would continue to detain former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki on national security and alleged corruption grounds, despite several court orders for his release from custody.

Mr Dasuki has been held in detention since 2015 on charges that he mismanaged money allocated for defence procurement during his days as former President Goodluck Jonathan’s national security adviser.

The Buhari administration has come under criticism for holding citizens in perpetual custody despite court orders. In recent months, several Nigerians have been arrested and charged for treason over comments they made that lawyers argued are protected speech under the Constitution.

Wole Soyinka also condemned the approach by Mr Buhari’s government to the rights of Nigerians. Last month, the Nobel laureate lampooned Mr Buhari for exhibiting traits of “paranoia” amidst isolation of his government by Nigerians.

During his Independence Day speech, the president threatened further crackdown on people making statements considered by his government as hateful and inciting. Civil liberties advocates sharply disagreed with the government’s definition of what constitutes dangerous speeches, saying only the speeches that are not favourable to the administration are being increasingly criminalised.

Mr Ali insisted at Monday’s briefing that all land borders will remain shut as a continuation of a closure that began in August.

He said the measure was to improve Nigeria’s economic situation and reduce further exploits by neighbouring countries, the Nation reported.

Coronavirus factsheet


PT Mag Campaign AD

All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.

Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.


TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...

BE THE FIRST TO KNOW! Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required


Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application