The minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has inferred that Nigerians do not understand there is a thin line between personal freedom and national security.
According to him, they would have to be in government to understand why government has to sidetrack the rule of law, and disobey certain court orders.
The minister made these assertions during an interview session on a Channels TV programme, Politics Today, on Thursday night.
He was reacting to criticisms that the government has continued to disregard court orders, which called for the release of a the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and a former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki.
Mohammed said, “You see, all those who have been disturbing us about rule of law or the other, I just wish they would have the opportunity to be in government for a short time and they will see how difficult it is to balance personal freedom with national security.”
He also stated that “there is a lot of deliberate misunderstanding on these issues. Number one, if a judgment is given and that judgment is appealed, you cannot accuse the government of violating that order if the appeal has not been decided.
“Two, in the case of El-Zakzaky, how many Nigerians know that El-Zakzaky is not in prison custody, police custody nor DSS custody? El-Zakzaky is in a house with his family. This is the honest truth.
“He is in what is called protective custody. The court ruled that he be released after his house has been rebuilt but nobody wants to accept El-Zakzaky as a neighbour. So, we have been unable to build the house. So, where do we release him to?
“In the case of Dasuki, every government will always thread this very thin line between personal liberty and national security. And I think you must give the government the credit to determine what is national security. In the case of Sambo Dasuki, the issue is a grave one.
“If the person is in possession of $1.2 billion; there are records that he moved in one day $1.2 billion in two transactions – we know the banks he moved them to. And you refused to tell us what you have done with that money, I don’t think it would be prudent to jeopardise the national security of a whole nation because of the individual freedom of one person. Because with $1.2 billion, you can destabilise a whole country”.
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