Those Faulting Arrest  Of Judges By DSS Are  Enemies Of  Democracy – Adeniran | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Those Faulting Arrest  Of Judges By DSS Are  Enemies Of  Democracy – Adeniran

Posted: Oct 17, 2016 at 2:19 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Comrade Debo Adeniran is the Executive Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL). In this interview with AUGUSTINE ADAH, he spoke on the arrest of some judges by DSS, the withdrawal of forgery charges against Senate President and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and other issues. Excerpts:

Why do you think the federal government suddenly withdrew charges of corruption against the Senate president and his deputy?

I didn’t see any other thing beside political motive. I think it is based on political exigencies, especially as the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) suddenly came in and said that the forgery they said happened is no longer true. In my opinion, if there is no political undertone, when the case was withdrawn, I expected Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu to cry foul that the government embarrassed them and they would sue the government for some damages and cost they went through. But I can’t imagine if they did not commit the offence that the AGF alleged they committed, and without their knowledge, the same man would come to withdraw the case. We expected the federal government through the Attorney General or anti-graft agencies to be sure of their facts and when the case gets to the court. It should be prosecuted to its logical conclusion. But what we see is the degeneration in the legal pursuit in which the present Attorney General is embarking upon and it would embarrass the government on the long run.
Some people are also saying that the withdrawal of the case is an indictment on the war against corruption which the government claims is fighting. Do you believe it that way?
That is it. This leaves us with the doubt whether this government that we support in naming, apprehending and shaming corruption, would be able to fight the war without embarrassing us on the long run.  If without any good reason they went back to court and say the court should not continue with the adjudication of the case, it leaves us with the doubt whether the present government would do things better than the past government. This is why we voted for change mantra. We thought the present government would do things differently. The different in strategy, tactic and methodology is what we expect. We don’t want a situation where agencies would file case that does not have substance where witnesses and evidences are lacking, so that at the end of the day, the case would fail and those we presume to be corruption suspect would now come to make jest of us saying after all, you accused us of wrongdoing but the federal government is saying we are not.  We are embarrassed by the unwarranted withdrawal of forgery case against the senate president and his deputy. We know that  several documents that got some of the elected or appointed politicians into office were forged. Many of them falsified even electoral results; many of them falsified the required document to which they got to office.  If this is a signal to what would come in the near future, then it is going to water down our interest to fight along with the regime. But that would not reduce our own commitment to naming, nailing and shaming corrupt leaders anywhere we found them.

Some Nigerians criticised the arrest of some judges by men of DSS last weekend and described the action as a breach of law . Do you share the same view?

Those who criticised that strategy are the enemies of democracy because there wouldn’t be any gain from democracy that allows corrupt practices to fester. The worst violation of democratic value, norms and practices is when the public cannot rely on their judicial officers to dispense justice freely, fairly and transparently without being paid for.  A situation where the revered judicial officers who are supposed to be custodians of morality degenerate to the level of asking suspected criminals to pay them with the view to get them off the judicial hook does not augur well for the development of social ethics. It doesn’t support the development of democratic ethos; it does not support the much needed patriotism from the citizenry. They would lose the support in the capacity of their government to protect them knowing full well that the purpose of the governance is to ensure the security and welfare of the people. Wherever judiciary dips itself into   corruption, it exposes members of the society to socio-economic insecurity.  The implication is that anybody can accuse them of anything and get the law enforcement agencies to arrest and charge them to court but because justice has been restricted to the highest bidders, the ordinary person would not be able to get justice. Only the super rich who acquired the wealth through corrupt practices would get justices. This is the situation we find ourselves now.  Go to detention centres, reformation centres and prison yards, you don’t find those who are well to do in the society there, why because they buy their ways out. We have heard of cases in the past where fraudulent rich people were sent to various jail terms and they have to pay a token to ordinary members of the society to go and serve the jail term for them and they walk free promising to take care of the family of the hapless man.  The man was frustrated by the hallowing economic situation which the corrupt person has plunged the country into. Those who are super rich especially those who became rich through corrupt means believe that that they can bribe their ways into freedom. The reason why they can pay heavily for election and litigations is because they did not work for the money. Those who get their riches through legitimate means would think twice before they can bribe corrupt judges with such a huge amount of money that we hear. They would want to use the legal means to prosecute whatever case they may have in court. Judicial corruption is the greatest tragedy that could befall any democracy. Lawyers that are handling the case can’t be trusted for not colluding with opposition in any case against  poor litigants who are usually punished for the offence they did not commit. The end result of that is anarchy and people would resort into self-help because they know that they cannot rely on the government to protect them when there is need.

The NBA President claimed he is against corruption but not the manner and way the government is going about it. Do you support the view?

There is no problem about that,  but it is a danger to our perpetual nascent democracy if the NBA President could speak like that.  One of the social responsibilities of a lawyer is to educate the citizenry of what constitute their rights and privileges within the polity. But what the NBA is doing with the Nigerian masses is to miseducate them and make them believe that their rights are vulnerable to be hijacked by the high and the crooked within the society. It is wrong for the NBA President to come out and say that the method used in dealing with his colleagues who have been catapulted in to the exalted position in different law courts, both Supreme and High courts was wrong.  I expected him to have covered his face in shame. Many of us know that a lot of Nigerian lawyers are shameless. They are usually the conduit pipe which judges and magistrates collect bribe from litigants and hapless members of the society. The reason why some senior lawyers, including the NBA president are fighting tooth and nail to ensure that these corrupt judges are not brought to justice is because they know that once they interrogate these corrupt judges, they are going to name names.  The law enforcement agencies are going to raise the question such as how do you get the bribe, or how come about the different currencies we found in your residence.  Judges are not known to engage in business not to talk of being a bureau de change operator. So every law enforcement agency would know that it is illegal for them to have those currencies in their residence.  So, they would raise the question of how they came about, and if it came as bribery, a lawyer is likely to be involved. If it came in as money laundering, a lawyer is likely to be involved. It is this lawyers that normally takes brief from corrupt elements in the society under the pretext that they are going to see trial judge of the Supreme Court.  It is because they are apprehensive of one statement that this justices are going to make that would connect them with the crime that they do everything possible to ensure that the  course of justice are perverted.  It is these lawyers especially the senior members of bar that facilitated all these miscarriage of justice. The president of NBA doesn’t need to be told that drastic problem requires drastic solution. He ought to know that the people voted in Buhari not just because he is from Daura or not just because he was a former soldier. It was because Nigerians believe that he has what it takes to fight corruption to a standstill. They knew that he fought against corruption effectively before. They knew that he had instilled discipline to all aspect of our lives before. They knew that the way his predecessor fought corruption was with kids’ glove. They knew that the corrupt elements that were convicted of corruption were only given punishment that has no deterrent value.  They knew that it is under Buhari that everybody would sit up in adjudication and administration of criminal justice in Nigeria. If Buhari’s administration did not evolve any noble approach to bring Nigerians to book, he would not achieve any success like his predecessors in office could not achieve anything in office.

Do you think the action of DSS is conventional?

Basically, what the DSS has done is what has been done in many countries of the world to nail judicial officers who stain their integrity with corruption. What they call it is sting operation and there is nothing  wrong with it. If you are familiar with the new administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015 which was promulgated by the last regime of Goodluck Jonathan, it allows the law enforcement agencies to search any house based on the evidence they have with them. They can go to anybody’s house for the purpose of search and they can go at anytime of the day or night. The law also permits them to break into any building with the purpose of searching for any incriminating object or document that can be used as evidence against corrupt person.  They have the right to break the window, glass or anything that impede access to the tenement of the suspect.  Talking about the arrest, the law allows a suspect to be apprehended, the only thing you do is to hand them over to the law enforcement agents for further investigation and necessary prosecution. The DSS has not done anything wrong.  Some people argued that the action is against the rule of law; but I ask, those that took money from criminals to set them free are they acting within the purvey of the law? Do they consider the inconvenience of those who would suffer the jeopardy of what the criminal element has committed would go through? Do they know that a lot of members of the society are languishing in jail for the crime they did not commit but by these super rich criminal elements? Are they aware that many people are lying in various health care institutions as a result of the crime committed by these criminal elements? A lot of graduates in the country today could not defend their certificates because they were not properly taught because the money that was meant to procure teaching materials for their respective schools was eaten by idiots who are in position of authority and they churned out those who did not merit secondary school leavers as graduates.  The reason why the fight against corruption is at this elementary level is because some corrupt elements have crippled the anti-corruption  and law enforcement agencies including the regulatory agencies. They do not have enough personnel, they do not have enough training, the do not have enough equipments, they do not have enough protection for themselves and that of their dependants and relatives. All these happened because the corrupt elements in the society have impeded the channels where they can get money to do their work effectively. The president of NBA should know that some members of NBA have been found wanting in the area of their operations. Recently, you may have heard about the case of Rickey Tarfa. He actually prevented the law enforcement agents from performing their statutory duties. What do they have against that? We have also the case of Bassey Ikpeme, the woman judge who delivered judgment against MKO Abiola in the night. It is not strange that law enforcement agencies have broken into private homes of people with the view to procure and secure evidences against suspect. It has happened to activists like late Gani Fawehinmi and Beko Ransome-Kuti. What the evidence matter says is that it does not matter how you obtain your evidence as long as it accentuate the case you are pursuing in the court of competent jurisdiction.

INEC received kudos for the better way it conducted the last governorship election in Edo. How do you rate commission in the election?

I was not in Edo to monitor the election, but what I observed is that it was an improvement over what happened in Bayelsa and Rivers states. What happened in Edo State was a clear departure from the violence that characterised the previous elections. We did not hear that anybody died before, during and after the election. What we heard was that some people openly bribed voters to vote for them. We learnt that this accusation was not limited to a particular party. What we would advice is that if anybody is not comfortable with the outcome of the election result; a tribunal has been established through which they can seek redress.