DSS Should Have Exercised Some Decorum In Judges’ Arrest — Maduka | Independent Newspapers Limited
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DSS Should Have Exercised Some Decorum In Judges’ Arrest — Maduka

Posted: Oct 17, 2016 at 1:57 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)





Mr. Chris Maduka, a political scientist and public policy analyst is the National President of New Tone In Leadership Foundation, is piqued by the way the Department of State Security (DSS) handled the arrest of some judges. In this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he states that the security operatives should have shown some decorum considering the import of the positions judges occupy. He also expresses worries over the management of the nation’s economy


How do you see the recent arrest of some top judges on allegations of corruption?

First, I think people are missing the point. The crux of the matter is that we are focusing only on the alleged misconduct of the judges, the alleged corruption charges or allegations. But, they are human beings and citizens. Nobody should be above the law. But, what is missing and being misinterpreted is that these sitting judges represent a position that is sensitive and must be protected. As much as we do not want a sacred cow or holy goat in the fight against corruption, we must also be proactive and serious as we are in the prosecution of the war against corruption in protecting and preserving the Doctrine of the Separation of Powers.

We cannot make permanent decisions under temporary inconveniences. It is just like the flashlight and the battery. Do we destroy the torch because we must change or remove the battery? We cannot destroy, ridicule and make nonsense of the judgeship position because we are trying to remove the individuals occupying that position. The people that have practiced democracy a bit longer and are more experienced in this form of government still thrive today because they are meticulous and careful, guarding against this type of action credited to the DSS and the executive arm of the government.

The approach, in my view, should have been to work within the ambit of the National Judicial Council (NJC) to remove the judges over the alleged misconducts, aerobe them and then the individuals can be picked up and prosecuted effectively. This is why the executive, the president or governors usually go through the rigorous process of impeachment before the legislative arm could act. Even after, they still have to go through judicial sanctuary before the impeachment takes effect. The impeached president or governor is recommended for prosecution by the independent council or panel. This is because the idea is to make impeachment a non-partisan issue and to disallow undue interference or influence of the other arms of the government as predicated under the Doctrine of Separation of Powers and checks and balances. This is all it is all about. It is not about individuals or whether they committed the fraud. If the judges are found wanting, we should painstakingly go through the process.


Some critics say the operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) exhibited a lot of highhandedness in carrying out the arrests. What is your take on this?

That is the point I am trying to emphasise. As a citizen, I am for everybody being equal in the law. There should not be double standard. From the way DSS handled the matter, they may have got the taste of what ordinary citizens go through on daily basis. Who knows, it may help to strengthen the system and procedure for the better. But, on a serious note, it is not about them. After all, there is a proverb in Igbo to the effect that the kolanut is not even as big as a piece of yam that one can just swallow it on a bite. But yet, it is accorded all manners of respect and cultural procedures before it is broken. It is about preserving our institutions. It is about avoiding an action that will send a long time chilling effect on the judiciary.

But how would you react to a situation where huge amounts of dollars, pound sterling and Euros were discovered in the homes of some of the judges?

Strictly or seriously speaking, it is easy for one, giving the economic situation in the country, to react emotionally. The level of corruption I Nigeria is so high. It cuts across all fabric of the society, including the judiciary. As a matter f fact,, the one concerning the judges is more damaging and aggravating. This is because they seat on the seat of judgment. They must not be found wanting. They must rise above these types of behavior to preserve the integrity of that office. I have earlier explained the responsibility to equally preserve that revered position. Having said that, let me also, from legal perspective, say that it is not good enough to say that you found these amounts of money in the houses of judges. We have had this type of allegations several times in recent time and it seemed to resonate with most of us. But, we need to pulse for a moment and wait for the accusation to be substantiated in court. The reason for saying this is that it is that it is not enough to brand someone a thief or commit them in the court of public opinion, simply because money was found within their domain. If that is the case, so many people, innocent or guilty, will be in jail because there are so many people that keep millions of Naira or Dollars at home, innocently acquired. So, the burden of proof for such exhibit should be on the prosecution. There had been cases in United States of America and elsewhere where such exhibits and evidence was thrown out for lacking merit or even being compromised.

What is your view on the present economic situation of the country which has got to a recession level?

The economic situation is a reality. The average layman on the street can attest that all is not well with the economy. The price of rice and bread has gone up and if this happens, the average Nigerians that do not know what government say about the economy? But an economy in my view, is like an ailing Nigerian that must be attended to at all times by competent people with the required knowledge and competence.

Failure to do so, the economy will get sick, which is recession and if strict emergency measures and actions are not applied, the economy will die. What that means is that we will start seeing what people in Venezuela are seeing today. So, this is not the time for blame games. It is not the time to continue pointing backwards. This is the time for the president to look inwards and galvanise, inspire Nigerians from across all the regions to hunker down and initiate efforts as individuals to complement viable government initiatives if any, be it monetary, fiscal and other economic policies that will pull the country out of the recession. But, this cannot be done under the atmosphere of looming uncertainties, perceived injustice and general feeling of insecurity. The government must move quickly to unite the people, inspire them because it is only inspired and motivated people that can move the economy forward.


Would agree to the assertion that the members of the president’s economic team are not capable to pull the nation from the recession?

There is one quote, “Every job is a product of who has done it.” In the private sector, people are hired to achieve result and deliver regardless of whatever the existing situation, they met on ground. The job of the newly engaged people from the population of over 170 million people is not to make excuses, but to deliver to the public and justify the rare opportunity to serve. But, then, if that person or that team is overwhelmed by the magnitude of the economic problems on ground they should humbly resign or be fired or removed. It is nothing personal. It is about achieving results. I do not believe that we have appied the best of the three assets that are available to any individual, entity or organisation. What are these assets? One is human assets (who we are); financial assets (what we have) and intellectual assets (what we know). I do not know that we have made maximum use of these assets in this preset dispensation. If they are not delivering as the president promised the people, President Buhari should do the needful. It is not personal. The management team of the economy n dev en the cabinet is not doing well. If the president fails to do the needful, the failure of his team may cost him his position.


The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and business mogul, Aliko Dangote recently advised the federal government to sell some public assets to revitalize the economy. Although the government said it would not go on to sell the assets, how do you see the wisdom for such sale?


We have the benefit of hindsight in this type of proposal. The ones that had been previously disposed of, how did they add value to the economy? Were they done through the best practices? We must ne very careful in this direction. I know that people will put up the argument that the government has no place in business. But, that is just one side of Adam Smith’s lassie faire theory of doing things. In some instances, such assets are the underpinning of the society and disposing of them recklessly may simply amount to recolonisation.

Even in the United States of America, the NA is still under the control of the U.S. government. Why? Because of the threat disposing it poses on U.S national security. Also, when the Chinese wanted to buy off a U.S-owned oil pipeline that passed through Karzistan, owned by a U.S company, Konok, it was subjected to approval by the U.S Congress and they effectively killed the deal, even though the Chinese made the highest offer of $18 billion, citing national security. We must be properly guided. There are so many creative ways to pull this country out of recession.

As a political activist and youth mobiliser of South East origin, how do you see the ongoing agitation and resurgence of the demand for Biafra?

Well, some people have been dismissing the agitation without realising that it is part of the democratic norm for people to agitate for certain issues just as the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) is doing. Now, the question of what brought about this agitation depends on who you ask. People have different interpretations. Some people that never had an experience of being any of these Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) in the North East, where the Boko Haram hold sway, cannot tell the story or explain what is happening there. People from the comfort of their homes cannot interpret and explain what somebody or the actual experience of people and the atrocities in North East. The same thing to a certain extent is the case of IPOB, or what people term the Biafra Movement. It is not wise to dismiss and vilify them when there is no proof of violence against them. They are entitled to express their opinions as guaranteed in our constitution.

This said, I wish to stress that the arrest and continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu, the IPOB leader and Director of Radio Biafra, does not augur well for our growing constitutional democracy. If the government will rely on the court system to try him, they should equally adhere to the directives of the court. Continued incarceration of Kanu against the court order is causing more harm for Nigeria as a nation.

My suggestion or opinion as a citizen is for President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to some of these agitations and concerns emanating from the South East and other areas. As the president of all, he should take steps to address the issues and give every part of the country a sense of belonging in the Project Nigeria as one people, with shared destiny and aspiration.

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