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Nigeria Doesn’t Need Any Foreign Loan – Ajulo

Kayode-Ajulo
Posted: Nov 3, 2016 at 2:42 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Barrister Kayode Ajulo, a legal practitioner was the former National Secretary of  Labour  Party (LP).  The Executive Director, Egalitarian Mission for Africa in this telephone chat with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he spoke corruption in the Judiciary, President Muhammadu Buhari’s external loan requests and other issues. Excerpts:

What is your position on the DSS raid on residence of some senior judges over allegations of corruption?

We have to understand something here.  Though the DSS may have good intention, they employed a very wrong tactics in dealing with the situation.  DSS, as we know is one of the security agencies in Nigeria vested with constitutional powers to investigate crime and they have their method.  But in this particular case, there affected judges are not drug barons are armed robbers. In my own opinion, you don’t even need to carry guns in resolving financial crimes. All you need is detailed forensic investigation and analytical facts and figures.  The same method applies to corruption. You don’t need all these Gestapo style and commando methods in fighting corruption.  All we need do is to gather the intelligence and make it available. The method employed by the DSS is like using sledge hammer to kill mosquito.  I am not saying the DSS has no authority to investigate crime, they can. But in this case, these are harmless judges. So, going to their residence with sledge hammers and guns, breaking down their doors is unjustifiable.  I will not join those saying the DSS has no power to investigate crime or judges. That is a fallacy.  These affected are not immune to investigation because they do not enjoy immunity under our constitution.

We have heard some lawyers say most of these judges are being corrupted by senior members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) . Do you also share that opinion?

Yes, some elements in the NBA are responsible for bribing these judges.  Recall last year, the immediate past president of the NBA, Augustine Alegeh in one of his address at the Supreme Court said the NBA knows the corrupt judges. I was present when he said this.  When he made this remark, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) challenged him to produce the names of those corrupt judges. Till date, the NBA is yet to do that.  Mr. Femi Falana will say the NBA knows the number of corrupt judges. Not only NBA, but all of us know them.  You as a journalist know some journalists who can shun the ethics of their profession because of brown envelopes and despite the economic recession in the country today, you still know some of your colleagues who will stick to the ethics of their job and shun any form of financial inducements.  The same thing applies to the legal profession. We know the corrupt judges and lawyers too. Nobody has a monopoly of knowing who a corrupt judge is or not.  We are professionals and we go to court every day.  Just by finger pointing, we can identify that this or that judge is corrupt. There are some courts that some lawyers will not want to go because they know that no matter how strong their case is, they can never get justice.   There are some lawyers today that will not ask for professional fees. All they ask from their clients is money to bribe judges.  These lawyers don’t even read again. Their belief is that you don’t need to know the Law; all that matters is who knows the judge. So, it is so clear and corruption is walking on the streets in Nigeria.

Some indicted judges have mentioned politicians, including serving Ministers as culprits for trying to induce them financially over electoral cases.  Do you think that allegation should be investigated?

In 2004, I was involved in a case in National Judicial Council (NJC). One of those things that made some judges to be indicted is that they failed to inform the authority of those that tried to financially induce them.  As a judge, as at the time the politicians came to their house, it is expected of them to make a report, not after they have been indicted. They cannot be making such verbal excuses after they have been exposed.  The question we should ask is:  Let’s assume the politicians try to induce the judges, did the judges speak out at the appropriate time? To me, I believe it is a two-way thing. As at that time, a crime is being committed, any attempted inducement is a crime. It is the duty of the judges to ensure that such crime is reported to the relevant authorities, not know when they are now facing their own crimes.  I am not saying such allegations should not be investigated but they watered it down by being negligible towards such attempts.

The Senate yesterday rejected the request of President Muhammadu Buhari  for external borrowing.  Do you think that decision is laudable one?

We don’t need any loan. I think recently, the federal government has been telling us that they recovered some money. That money should be used to develop infrastructure.   We keep hearing the government say they want to do infrastructure. To me, that is not even the problem of Nigeria, the problem is fighting hunger.  People are hungry. Nigerians are hungry.  They should do their utmost to reduce hardship in the country. That to me, is the major problem the government should tackle now. We don’t need any loan because Nigeria is rich enough. The only thing is to block all the leakages. I know how much Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is making for Nigeria alone. The same goes for Customs, but the question is:  where are these monies?  What the government should focus on is to block all these loopholes and not focus all the attention on fighting corruption. Corruption is an end. Buhari is fighting an end- product.  Why can’t he just start from the source?

As a politician, what is your perspective on the stalemate in Ondo PDP?

Early this year, I resigned as the National Secretary of Labour Party and I gave a good reason that as a lawyer, I wanted to pursue my profession and to develop my society.  That my resolution still remains intact because I believe I should place more premium on my profession than partisan politics. Having said that, I will not be oblivious of what is happening in my state, in Ondo state. Something untoward is happening and we believe that the only way to settle it is through the courts.  The courts should be allowed to do their job and resolve this issue.

The Eyitayo Jegede faction is calling for a postponement of the election in order to give its candidate enough room to campaign owing to the current stalemate. What is your take on that?

I believe INEC should look into the issue so as to ensure fairness and justice. If justice in this case will amount to shifting the election, so be it. After all,  Edo state was given the same privilege and the election was shifted for two weeks.  As at today, not only the Jegede faction, APC has issues on the emergence of their governorship candidate, AD is just resolving theirs while PDP is yet to resolve theirs too.  I think all the political parties are in court and so, I believe if it will require INEC extending the election by two weeks, then they should do so.  With the situation in Ondo today, no election can take place because of pockets of protests here and there.  Students cannot go to schools and banks are not opened. If that situation persists, how do you expect election to take place?