Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has said that no democracy could survive without strict adherence to the rule of law.
He bared his mind at the weekend in Abuja during a dinner organised by the International Law Institute (ILI), Washington DC, for the alumni of the Institute in Nigeria.
According to Ekweremadu, aslo an alumnus of the Institute, democracy without rule of law, is like law that has lost its saltiness, stressing there cannot be any meaningful development, without rule of law.
While commending the Institute for impacting the nation’s democracy positively, Ekweremadu declared: “Importantly, if the judiciary is the last hope of the common man, democracy becomes gravely imperilled if the powers of the judiciary to enforce compliance with the rule of law is subjected to legal, extra-legal, and sociological limitations and non-compliance with judicial orders becomes a norm.
“This, we must always watch closely, because the flipside of rule of law is anarchy.
“Our tasks as an emerging democracy and beneficiary of the ideals and knowledge espoused by the ILI, therefore, are to continue to build a society where government agencies as well as individuals and private entities must be subjected to and accountable under the law.
“We must ensure that the process by which laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient. And we must ensure that justice is delivered according to established laws, timeously, competently, ethically, and independently”.
He further said: “I hold the opinion, and fervently so, that the principle of the rule of law is at the heart of the survival of democracy. A democracy without the rule of law is like salt that has lost its saltiness”.
He regretted that whereas the World Bank holds that economic growth, political modernization, the protection of human rights, and other worthy objectives hinge in part, on the rule of law, there is a paradox scenario in which “developing nations, which are in dire need of development are the countries where the rule of law- a key element for development- is often sorely lacking”.
“This ugly scenario is due majorly to lack of strong democratic institutions, lack of independence of the judiciary, and pervading political instability”, he explained.
While assuring that the National Assembly would continue to partner with the Institute towards capacity building of its members and parliamentary staff, he called on pther arms and tiers of government as well as individuals and corporate agencies to key into the capacity building efforts of the 60-year old Institute.
The Executive Director of ILI, Kim Phan, expressed happiness with the growth of democracy in Nigeria and the opportunity the ILI has had to be part of the success story.
She pledged that the Institute was ever committed to democracy and development in Nigeria.