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2010 ANNUAL ALUMNI LECTURE

 

2010 ALUMNI ANNUAL LECTURE

 

 “CORRUPTION AND RULE OF LAW;

WITHER NIGERIA?”

 

 

Being a paper delivered by:

CHIEF ADENIYI AKINTOLA (SAN)

UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN ALUMNI ANNUAL LECTURE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EMBARGOED TILL 25th FEBRUARY, 2011.

 

 

PROFILE

 

PROFILE

OF

THE AMIABLE SENIOR ADVOCATE OF NIGERIA

CHIEF ADENIYI OLASUNMADE AKINTOLA MSc.Pol.Sc. 

     LL.B (Hons,), BL., MC/Arb., U.K, FLCIA. U.K.,FC/Arb.

 

It is a pleasure and deep honour for me to read the citation of an eminent legal practitioner, social crusader, political scientist and academician.

 

ADENIYI AKINTOLA, SAN.

 

52 years ago, Ibadan and indeed Nigeria was blessed with the birth of Adeniyi Michael Akintola, SAN.

 

He attended I.D.C. Primary School Seni Village, via Omi, Adio Ogunsami Primary School, Ogunsami & Ebenezer African Church Primary School Salvation Army Road, Ibadan.

 

He later attended Nigeria Army School of Education Ilorin, Ogun State Polytechnic, Abeokuta , the University of Ibadan and the Nigerian Law School , Lagos .

 

Adeniyi Michael Akintola, SAN holds amongst others - M.Sc. Pol. Sc., LL.B (Hons.) BL MC Arb, U.K FLCIA , U.K. , FC/Arb.

 

A man born to fly despite his limiting background, Akintola, SAN armed with a heart of steel distinguished himself as a scholar of note when he became a celebrity in 1981 at the Ogun State Polytechnic, where he did the almost impossible of making an A, B, A at his H.S.C. and an A, B, A at the University Cambridge Advanced Level Exams even though he was without the privilege of a conventional secondary school education.

 

Taking his destiny in his hands, he taught briefly at Mac-Job Grammar School Abeokuta between 79-81 to garner enough and train himself up to the university level, until his final year in 1984 when Chief Toye Ogunyemi, his adopted father & mentor had to come to his aid and assisted in getting him a scholarship to go to the Law School, Lagos through an Ibadan Social Club, the Lagelu Sixteen under the distinguished leadership of Alhaji Tunji Bello of blessed memory.  He came out brilliantly at the Law School

 

For a man who couldn't afford N4.00 to pay for his photograph on his graduation day, who could not afford the Wig & Gown to practice with, for 13 months to have made it up meritoriously to the zenith of his career at a relatively young age of 41 years calls for a cheering ovation.

 

ACADEMIC/PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS:-

 

          i.        M.Sc Political science

          ii.       LL.B  (Hons.)

          iii       BL

          iv       MCArb

          v        FLCIA

          vi       FC/Arb

 

Adeniyi Akintola, SAN was a counsel and legal consultant to various state governments of the Federation, Federal Government and some local government councils at one time or the other.

 

He is also a counsel/legal consultant to very many multinational companies and wholly owned Nigerian companies including some government parastatals, banks, oil and gas companies, construction and manufacturing companies.

 

Akintola, SAN was a lead counsel in the celebrated case of Governor Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja impeachment saga (Inakoju V. Adeleke) in which he did something very novel in the history of Nigerian legal jurisprudence that led to the reinstatement of Governor Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja.

 

Akintola in that case believed that law should be used as an instrument of social engineering and a tool of change to better the lot of the society.  Even when some of his colleagues and senior members of the Bar believed that he was hitting his head against a stone wall by challenging the impeachment of Chief Ladoja in Court, Akintola cleverly changed the mode of such challenge.  He decided to use the legislators to sue themselves and making the Speaker of the House of Assembly the arrow head of the challenge.  The approach of Akintola SAN on impeachment proceedings has now become the reference point and the universally accepted method as was evident in the subsequent impeachments proceedings in Plateau, Ekiti and Bayelsa states to mention but a few.

 

A trail blazer of sort, Akintola, SAN had courageously fought many legal battles especially against despotic and dictorial governments.  For example in 2001 he against pressure from his friends and family members took up the controversial case of Ilero Chieftaincy stool on behalf of Alaafin of Oyo.  That was the case that was fought with all means available by the contending parties.  The government of Oyo State had insisted on imposing a candidate of its choice against the wishes of the kingmakers and the Alaafin of Oyo who is the prescribed authority.

 

Akintola’s star witness, Deacon Jokanola was murdered in cold blood the very day he concluded his evidence.

 

Akintola still went ahead, in spite of the intimidation, to call other witnesses, won the case and got his client installed as the Onilero of Ilero to the glory of God.

 

His exploits in the controversial case of Dr. Joshua Akintaro against the Oyo State Government readily comes to mind.  A man of unparalleled courage, Akintola fought the tyrannical government of the day from the High Court to the Appellate Courts and obtained 13 (thirteen) different judgments and orders in favour of his client all of which the then government of Oyo State refused to obey.  Akintola pursued this case to a logical conclusion until his client was installed as the elected Chairman of Ibarapa East local government council.

 

The exploits of Adeniyi Akintola, SAN in Edo State is still vibrating across the length and breath of Nigeria.  This was a case in which Akintola brought different styles and approaches to election petitions.  Akintola not only counted ballot papers used and unused during the election, he also sorted them out into signed and unsigned, stamped and unstamped etc.  His approach has now become the accepted norms before all the election Tribunals across the country. He and his colleagues repeated the same method in Ekiti State and got Dr. Fayemi his rightful dues.

 

A man who loves to dance and run where angels fear to tread, Akintola, SAN against all odds made the principal security agencies in the country such as the Nigerian Army, the Police and the State Security Service to give evidence against the Independent National Electoral Commission thus setting himself on a collision course with the security agencies.  The security agencies were miffed at the effrontery of Akintola to obtain security reports on the election directly from the inner recess of the security operatives.  Some few other controversial cases handled by Akintola, SAN includes Ajimobi against Akala, Amosun against Daniel, Nicon Insurance Plc against Federal Government, Nigerian Re-Insurance Plc against Federal Government, Alliance for Democracy against INEC, Action Congress against INEC in which Akintola even commenced contempt proceedings against Professor Iwu.  Mallam Yusuf V. Alliance for Democracy and the controversial espionage case between the Federal Republic of Nigeria V. Garba Shehu, the chief media adviser to Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, a former vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  Indeed Akintola was one of the lead counsel to vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the latter’s numerous legal battles against the despotic regime of Obasanjo which started on 5th September, 2006 and terminated on 16th April, 2007 leading to the vindication of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his subsequent so-called clearance by INEC to contest the presidential election.  Nigerians surely will not forget the Atiku legal team of that era in a hurry.

 

Akintola had alongside some of his colleagues who are handling numerous constitutional/electoral cases change the face of the Nigerian constitution of 1999 through judicial pronouncements.

 

Today the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 is a shell of its old self.  No thanks to the exploits of the brightest minds of the legal profession who have jointly and severally made this possible to the glory of God and humanity. The Constitution has been amended three times now.

 

Chief Adeniyi Akintola is a very versatile personality. He was once an adjunct Lecturer of political science at the University of Ibadan where he taught the MSC Election Management and strategic students. He was appointed a partner with the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) of London Marriot West India Quay, London in 2008 and he is a Manager of the ADRS seminar 2008 of United Kingdom in 2008.

 

Chief Adeniyi Akintola SAN has also been certificated in shipping and marine claims by the Lloyd’s Maritime Academy of the United Kingdom . He is currently in partnership with the British Legal firm of Akintola & Flourish, solicitors, 82 Great Eastern Street, Old Street London, EC 2A 3DF.

                           

Akintola, SAN has served his fatherland Nigeria and the Legal Profession in various capacities amongst which are:

 

*        Hon Member Oyo State House of Assembly

 

*        The Right Hon. Deputy Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly - 1992

 

*        Chairman Committee on Public Petitions & Judiciary, Oyo State    92 – 93

 

*        Counsel to Oyo State Government in the case between Oyo State Vs. National Population Commission 1992.

 

*        Counsel to Oyo State in the case between Oyo State Vs. Ogun State over Bakatari. Boundary disputes.

 

*        Member Presidential committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution.

 

*        Appointed counsel to the Federal Government on the Judicial Commission of Inquiry appointed to probe NIGERDOCK N81b Fraud.

 

*        Member - Presidential Visitation Panel to FUTA, 1999 – 2000.

 

*        Member - Body of Benchers - The highest governing body of the legal profession.

 

*        Director Nigerian – Re Insurance Plc

 

*        Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan .

 

*        Counsel to the Nigerian Labour Congress of Oyo State during Abacha and Lam Adesina Regimes.        

 

*        Member - Disciplinary Committee of the NBA since 1998

 

*        Member - National Executive Committee of the NBA since 1998

 

*        Fellow London Court of International Arbitration

 

*        Past Vice Chairman Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan branch

 

*        Fellow Chartered Institute of Arbitration , U.K.

 

*        Member - Nigerian Bar Association

 

*        Member- African Bar Association

 

*        Member - International Bar Association

 

Akintola, a highly intelligent, dedicated, and hardworking young man enrolled with the London Court of International Arbitrators and in August 2001 bagged the Fellowship of (LCIA) thus making him alongside with his bosom friend and soul mate Lateef Fagbemi, SAN - fellows of LCAI.  He is also a Chattered Arbitrator of United Kingdom and Nigeria .

 

Adeniyi Michael Akintola, SAN is also an accomplished human rights activist, a thorn in the flesh of dictators and feudal Lords (military & civilian alike); An incorruptible fellow who exposed the N50M fraud at FUTA, who single handedly wrote a minority report on Resource Control for the 1999 Presidential Committee on the Review of the Constitution, thwarted the efforts of those who always want to live solely on the government, by paying unholy visits to foreign countries at the expense of PCRC, rejected a gift of land allotment by the Federal Government at Abuja in 1992, as it was tainted with corruption.

 

Adeniyi Akintola, SAN is a counsel to very many statutory bodies and multi-national companies, with 3 (three) fully functional chambers spread across Nigeria. Akintola SAN head a thriving and one of the best law firms in Nigeria today to the glory of God with chambers in Abuja, Ibadan and Lagos.

 

Akintola, SAN got married to Boyede Akintola, in 1988. Herself a humble amiable, beautiful, dutiful, hardworking and loving wife & mother who is a Judge of the High Court of Oyo State. They are blessed with Children one of whom is a lawyer. Akintola, SAN remains a humble, pleasant, unassuming, and unobtrusive person. He enjoys reading, adventure & footballing.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Barrister Adeniyi Akintola, SAN, MSc, LL.B, (Hons.) BL.; LCIA; MC/Arb., FC/Arb, Legal Practitioner, International Arbitrator, Human Rights Activist, Social Crusader, Political Scientist and Academician of note.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PAPER

 

 

 

 

“CORRUPTION AND RULE OF LAW;

WITHER NIGERIA?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If there is any topic that has dominated the socio – political and economic landscape of Nigeria in recent times, it is that canker worm called “CORRUPTION”. No day passes without the word “corruption” taking a front burner of discussion among Nigerians. From the high to the mighty and the lowly, the issue of “corruption” as a great militating factor against national development and national rebirth has become something that must be tackled with all strength and blood to the extent that even the known defenders of the status - quo among the elites are now discussing the hydra headed evil and danger that corruption portends.

 

WHAT IS CORRUPTION?

 

As rightly pointed out by Professor Akin Oyebode, “corruption” is “so pervasive in Nigeria that it needs no definition”. In the words of Honourable Justice Roberts Jackson of the Supreme court of United States, “We all know obscenity when we see it”   We all know the act of corruption when we see one. For the purpose of this paper however, let me attempt a definition of some sort of the word “corruption”. In doing this, let me state that my attempt at defining same should not be seen as an all embracing and all inclusive definition.

 

To start with, “corruption” implies abuse of office, abuse of privilege, undue advantage, undeserved favour obtained through manipulation of the law, rules or regulations, untoward conduct premised on graft or a promise of same, performance of services in exchange for gratification, non performance of duties or services in order to confer some advantages or benefits, advance fee payments, kick backs, upfront gratifications, pecuniary or immoral benefits from illegal conduct, sexual harassment of subordinates or the weak, political corruption, nepotism, tribalism, etc these definitions as earlier stated are by no means exhaustive.

 

Some scholars such as Hafiz Adisa, Professor Akin Oyebode, M. M. Akanbi, Oladokun, Akinyemi, Saliu H.A. have in their various papers on corruption tried to conceptualize the definition of corruption. In doing this, some of them took the narrow compass view of the evil called corruption. To Hafiz Adisa, corruption and corrupt practices has to do with fraudulent activities especially the siphoning of public fund that is meant for the general populace for personal use.

 

To Professor Akin Oyebode, Corruption is an abuse of office or an abuse of public trust, undue advantage to obtain favour through manipulation.

 

In my article published by This day and Nigeria Tribune Newspapers in September, 2006, I had tried not to fall into the mistake of seeing corruption as a disease that is peculiar to public officers. In my article titled “Getting it straight about EFCC, An Appraisal of Ribadu’s corrupt method of fighting corruption,” I had detailed eleven unwholesome methods adopted by the erstwhile Chairman of the EFCC in carrying out his mandate. My article was a response to Olusegun Adeniyi’s piece of Thursday 31st August, 2006 Edition of This Day Newspaper. In that Article I had postulated that the word “Corruption” is highly omnibus in nature, generic and needs to be subjected  to empirical analysis in order to appreciate its broad- based   application.

 

In its conception of the word corruption, that great scholar of our time, Professor Akin Oyebode categorizes corruption into three that is, petty, ordinary and grand. He also categorizes the perpetrators of corruption into low, powerful and mighty. The erudite Professor’s paper came close to my own understanding of what corruption is but our areas of divergence is the categorization which I see as unnecessary and purely academic. To my mind corruption is corruption. A thief is a thief. The magnitude or quantum of the items stolen is immaterial. The Criminal code that created the offence of stealing makes no distinction between the quantum of the item stolen or the status of the thief.

 

Another area of my difficulty with the postulations of other scholars such as Hafiz Adisa is the attempt to localize corruption or zero -in same to Nigerian public officials. Such localization to my mind is self limiting and do not seem to be appropriate in the understanding of the concept of corruption. This is because; such conclusion limits the phenomenon of corruption to public officials alone as if private individuals in the society are corrupt free.

 

According to Professor Akinyemi, a simple way of avoiding this narrow compass of viewing corruption is “to accept that corruption is the acquisition of that which one is not entitled to and this takes different forms at different scales”.

 

For our purpose today, it is safe to assume that corruption includes all illegal and immoral exercise of powers, advantages, and or privileges. This may take different forms. It is an all embracing phenomenon which covers the public and the private sectors, families, friends, employers, employees, institutions at different levels and categories.

 

It is therefore my submission, that what is not morally right cannot be legally justified by any person be (s)he from the private or the public sector. Yes, I agree that morality is an unruly horse, when you get astride it, you can be taken to an unintended destination but there is the “doctrine of common sense” which though not common, differentiates what is good from what is bad. This presupposes that to achieve societal prosperity, the issue of accountability at all levels must be resolved and anything that impedes societal prosperity in any form is “corruption”. I am aware that I may be stretching my hypothesis too far, but let me end this aspect of my paper by saying that as rational beings, we all are presumed to know what is bad from what is good. Corruption therefore, is what we all know is bad. Let us all agree that corruption is a bad phenomenon in simple language and in order to avoid further disputations on the subject by scholars and writers alike.

 

DEFINITION OF RULE OF LAW

 

Without attempting to discuss what you already know or better turn this into an inaugural lecture, may I hasten to say that what Rule of law is, is at the finger tips of the distinguished  guests who are seated here. Without doubt, this gathering consists of some of the finest minds of this country. You sure understand this concept better than me. All I am trying to do here is to give a brief summary of the origin and the concept of the Rule of law at least for the benefit of the unlearned but well informed members of the society.

 

HISTORY OF RULE OF LAW

 

The concept of Rule of law is not a recent one, it is clearly an ancient one which found diverse expression from Plato and Aristotle around 350 BC. Plato believes that where the law is subject to some other authority and has none of it s own, the collapse of the state, in his view is not far off. But if law is the master of the government and the government is it slave, then the situation is full of promise and men will enjoy all the blessing that gods shower on a state. To Aristotle “law should govern”, and those in power should be “servants of the laws” Aristotle, believes that it is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens and advantageous where the supreme power is merely placed in some persons, who are appointed to be guardians only, and the servants of the laws.

 

The ancient concept of rule of law is clearly distinguished from rule by law, which we now have in Nigeria . According to Professor Li Shuguang, the difference…is that under the rule of law, the law is pre - eminent and can serve as a check against the abuse of power. Under rule by law, the law can serve as a mere tool for a government that suppresses in a legalistic fashion.

 

The supremacy of law is not an exclusively a western notion. As early as 1215 AD, King John placed himself and England ’s future sovereigns and magistrates partially within the rule of law, by signing the popular Magna - Carta.

 

In the ancient Oyo Empire, Our fore fathers had in place a concept of administration which forbids the concentration of powers in the hands of Alaafin (the King). The King reign, the “OYOMESIS’” constitutes the legislative arm of the Empire and the “ESOS’” constitute the Military wing and enforce the laws. Thus, it was common then for a recalcitrant or dictatorial Alaafin to be checked by the “OYOMESIS’” and the “ESOS’” through the process of asking such Alaafin to be “a man” or better put, commit suicide. So even in the ancient Yoruba Kingdom , the Rule of law was recognized. There was a clear cut of Separation of powers.

 

According to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his book, “The faith of a Democrat” Rule of law means using law as an instrument of governance. To him, law is not independent. He admitted that the government may use the law to rule the people in such a way as to make government officials to be above the law which will make such law to become an instrument of oppression. He believes and rightly so that the Rule of law can only be said to exist where the law is independent of the government. In other words, it is the law that rules and dominates the government and not the other way. Rule of law therefore epitomizes a situation where the law is separated from the government, politics and from religion. In such a situation, the law will be able to serve its purpose by regulating the powers of the government and citizens to govern and exercise their rights.  This will ensure the protection of the rights of all, government and citizens alike. It will ensure the prevention of the abuse of power, rights and privileges.

 

The name commonly given to the state of affairs in which a legal system is operated in modern society is the Rule of law. By the Rule of law, the specific virtue of legal system has been well analyzed by various writers as shown above. A legal system therefore exemplifies the Rule of law to the extent that its rules are prospective not retroactive, not in any way impossible to comply with, Rules are promulgated, clear, coherent, coherent one with another sufficiently stable, and those people who have authority to make, administer, and apply the rules in official capacity are accountable for their compliance and do actually administer the work consistently and in accordance with its tenor. It is therefore safe to say that the Rule of law does not merely shape or modulate project which a ruler already has in mind. It also gives room for new subject matters for authoritative regulations. The Rule of law does not permit a ruler to do what he wills. Rule of law is a virtue of human interaction and community. It therefore exist for the society and not the other way round. In other words, the Rule of law exist for man, man does not exist for it. This brings us to a concept called the limits of Rule of law.

 

CONCEPT OF THE LIMITS OF RULE OF LAW

 

As we shall see later in this paper, scholars have stressed and stressed again, that in an age of conceptual dogmatism, the concept of the Rule of law and the society are legitimately many and their employment is subordinated to matters of principle rooted in the basic principles and requirements of practical reasonableness. In other words, any concept of the Rule of law that is not beneficial to generality of the people is a sham.

 

CORRUPTION AND RULE OF LAW; THE NIGERIAN EXPERIMENT

 

As seen from the above discussions of the concept of the Rule of law and corruption, it is clear that in the application of the latter, it is the over – riding public interest that matters. Any application of the Rule of law that tends to, suggest, encourage, or assist the promotion of corruption in any form and under any guise is of no use, non – beneficial  and a sham. In fact, the application of Rule of law for the promotion of corruption, protection of corrupt practices, and its perpetrators will amount to an act of corruption in itself.

 

This brings us to the Rule of law mantra of Yar’ dua / Jonathan administration. Before the inception of Yar’ dua administration in 2007, it was clear that Rule of law under Obasanjo was a mirage. In fact, the fight against corruption then was a weapon of political vendetta. All the gains made earlier by Ribadu led EFCC at its early inception especially in its fight against advance free fraud were wiped off as a result of Obasanjo’s desire to manipulate the constitution and secure an illegal third term for himself.  He then practically turned Ribadu led EFCC to a tool of political vendetta. All known and perceived opponents of third term were hounded, harassed and vilified under the guise of fighting corruption. A classical example was the treatment meted out to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and several other members of the opposition parties. In one classical example, a panel was constituted by Obasanjo under the chairmanship of the then Attorney – General; of the Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo SAN with Nuhu Ribadu, El Rufai, and the then Minister of State for Agriculture to investigate alleged corruption against the vice president on a Saturday, met him briefly on that Saturday night and produced a white paper indicting the vice president the following Sunday morning with the inscription “Published and printed by Federal Government Printers, Maalu Road, Apapa” Several Governors and candidates who had secured the nominations of their political parties were disqualified from contesting election with Ribadu playing the hatchet role. The noble role of fighting corruption with focus and commitment was abandoned for political gain. In my aforementioned paper of September, 2006 I had stated in part at pages 3 – 5 that

 

“Less I am mistaken, NBA, the Professional Association of learned men in the country has zero level tolerance for corruption and in fact, would always steadfastly be in the vanguard of stamping out corruption out of the nation’s borders. In doing that the NBA is methodical and polished about it and not in the manner Ribadu is rapidly pushing the nation back to Hitleric Dark Age’s with his Gestapo like operation.

 

The EFCC boss brazen bravado and crude disrespect for the Rule of law must give Nigerians some concerns, most especially lawyer and journalists who should cry foul to check the unbridled EFCC. Ribadu refusal to obey orders of court made by Hon. Justice Jonah Adah, granting bail to five accused persons charged with forgery re – arranged them before another court of competent jurisdiction. Accused persons got reprieve eight (8) months later at the Court of …… Appeal after one of them had become paralyzed and another caught tuberculosis in Ribadu’s custody. See Obioma V F.R.N (2005)13 WRN 131. Remember also the case of Morris Ibekwe.

 

Refusal to obey order of the FHC, Lagos presided over by Hon. Justice Abutu on the release of Alhaji Bulama, the former Managing Director of Bank of the North.

 

Intimidation of judges by going round their chambers to seek for their cooperation with EFCC, asking them not to grant bail to suspects arrested by EFCC. Ribadu went to the chambers of Lagos State High Court Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Ade Alabi. The President of the NBA reported this incident to the NBA AGM in Port Harcourt .

 

Ribadu wrote letters to the States Attorneys General asking them to cede their powers under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to him which is ultra – vires to both the EFCC and the State Attorney General.

 

Rather than follow the due process and respect the constitution of the country, Ribadu forum shops for weak judges who would do his biddings. He arrested in Plateau and prosecuted in Kaduna . Arrested in Abuja and prosecuted in Lagos and sometimes withdraws cases from uncompromising judges only for the same case to resurface in another court within the same premises, thereby undermining the independence and sanctity of the judiciary.

 

His acts of arresting and detaining people without trial are legion. It is a notorious fact that some people have been detained for months by EFCC without trial. The position of the law is that even if a person commits an offence which attracts maximum punishment, he should be given a steady and speedy trial following all the tenets of law. This is in tandem with the time tested maxim, “justice delayed is justice denied”

 

I refer to the extracts of my papers of September 2006 herein before mentioned for obvious reasons. Firstly, I had anticipated the despicable role later played by Obasanjo and Ribadu between September 2006 and May 2007 to scuttle the noble fight against corruption. Secondly, I refer to the extracts of my said paper in other to show that there is no conflict between the Rule of law properly so called and fight against corruption. All that is needed is a clear focus of policy formulation and implementation of the general good of citizenry. After all, the Rule of law encompasses the observance of the letter and the spirit of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. Same amplified by late President Umar Musa Yar’ adua in his inaugural speech in 2007. Having watched the geometric rise of corruption in the public and private sector in the recent times, I think I owe Ribadu an apology for my views and positions of September 2006. Ribadu was right to some extent.

 

The Social and Economic rights contained in Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 especially from Section 13 – 24 of the said constitution stipulates that the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of Democracy and Social justice. It states further that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of governance. Section 16(1)(b) states

 

“Control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice, equality of status and opportunity”.

 

In fact, Section 16(1)(c)(d), (2)(a) – (c):

 

“1     (c) without prejudice to its right to operate or participate in areas of the economy, other than the major sectors of the economy, manage and operate the major sector of the economy;

 

(d) Without prejudice to the right of any person to participate in areas of the economy within the major sector of the economy, protect the right of every citizen to engage in any economic activities outside the major sectors of the economy.  

 

2.      The State shall direct its policy towards

a) the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development;

 

b) that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good;

 

c) that the economic system is not operated  in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of a few individuals or a group”

 

It is my opinion and I strongly believe that social justice to all and sundry cannot be implemented or enhanced in a corrupt society like Nigeria . Any law, be it the Criminal code, Penal code, EFCC Act, ICPC Act and or the Evidence Act that seeks to protect corruption or provide escape route to corrupt persons under whatever guise including but not limited to Section 138 of the Evidence Act, CAP A14, Laws of the Federation, 2004 cannot be said to be in conformity with the provisions of Chapter II, of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. If the objective, intendment, letter, and spirit of Chapter II of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is to promote social justice, equality and economic prosperity for all, it will amount to playing the Ostrich to expect the prosecutor of a suspected embezzler whose properties or assets are so glaringly incompatible with his income to establish beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the latter. The offence of corruption of whatever magnitude should be that of a strict liability. In fact the provisions of Sections 5,6,11 of the EFCC Act, Chapter E1, Laws of the Federation 2004, and Section 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, and 26 of the CPC Act, Chapter C31, Laws of the Federation 2004 need be amended to make all the offences created therein one of strict liability. In other words, the onus should be on the accused person in relating to these offences to prove his innocence and that will be in tandem with the provisions of Chapter II of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

 

Do I hear whispers from some of my listeners as to the justifiability of Chapter II of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , 1999? Yes The Nigerian courts have in the past held that they were precluded from enforcing or recognizing the fundamental objective principles set out in Chapter II of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 by virtue of Section 6 (6)(c) of the same Constitution. This position of our courts notwithstanding I submit with profound respect that the audacity to be innovative and creative in our approach to fundamental issues affecting our nation must be our main objective. Law must be interpreted and argued by us as judges and lawyers to enhance and promote social engineering. We must not be dogmatic and become slaves to laws. We are masters of the craft and indeed I dare say legal technicians. Happily enough, there are escape routes for innovative minds to get out of this stereotype, archaic and anachronistic views of Chapter II of the Constitution. Nigeria as a nation is a signatory to the African Charter on Humans and People’s Right (Ratification and Enforcement Act) 1983 which has now become part of our municipal laws even under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended in the 1st and 2nd amendments) by virtue of Section 315. The combine effect of the provisions of Sections 315 and the Ratification and Enforcement Act of 1983 makes the African Charter on Peoples Right an Existing law and with superior power over and above our local laws. It is submitted therefore, that since the principal contents of the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights centered mainly on social justice, equality and economic emancipation, the fundamental objective principles contained in Chapter II of the Constitution is enforceable. This reasoning of mine have its foundation in pragmatic approach by the Supreme court in the case of Ogedengbe V Attorney General Federation 2002 CLC, Page 226, FWLR [2002] 9 NWLR (Part 772), the Superior court though made no reference to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights in decision reached in Ogendengbe’s case, it is gratifying that our courts are gradually transforming into “Judicial government” with approach to constitutional law from a beneficial perspective. It is important to note that Judges must keep in view the need for their decisions to go a long way in shaping the society for the better especially as it concerns the fight against corruption which impedes the development of social justice. The Nigerian legislature having passed a legislation that made the set of fundamental aspirations in the African Charter of Human and Peoples Law applicable in Nigeria it is incumbent upon the courts to give legal teeth to same especially since the coming into effect of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. It is my humble opinion that the fundamental objective principles of the Constitution which promote social justice and negate corruption and other societal ills are now justiciable in Nigeria . As stated by the Court of Appeal Benin Division in the case of Federal Board on Inland Revenue V Intergrated Data Services Ltd (2009) AFWLR delivered on 7th January, 2009 Per Ogunwunmiju JCA at Page 788 particularly at 805 – 807:

 

 “There is no equity or presumption about a tax. Nothing is to be read and nothing is to be implied. One can only look fairly at the language used but the swiftness of interpretation may not always enure to the subject benefit, for if the person sought to be taxed comes within the letter of the law, he must be taxed however great the hardship may appear to the judicial mind. If a statute is revenue based or revenue oriented it will be part of sound public policy for a court of law to construe the provisions of the statute liberally in favour of revenue or in favour of deriving revenue by the government. This is because; it is in the interest of the generality of the public and to the common good and welfare of the citizenry for Government to be in revenue and affluence to cater for the people. That is the only way it can distribute wealth to the people to facilitate development to all and sundry. No court of law should lend it hands to a person or body bent on beating the efforts of Government at collecting revenue by relying on technicalities of the law with a frugal aim to cheat Government of its legitimate income”.

 

In line with the above decisions, I dare say that no court of law should lend its hands to any person or body bent on scuttling the fight against corruption by relying on technicalities of the law or stand on a weak platform of archaic phrases such as “prove beyond reasonable doubt” and non justiciability of the provisions of Chapter II of the Constitution if the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. In the words of Professor Tunde Ogowewo, the idea of judicial government must be advanced and postulated in order to enable the judiciary see its roles as part of the part of the government and therefore a key part of the developmental processes. In other words, if the aims and objectives of the government is to promote social justice equality and economic emancipation for all and sundry, any form of law that limits the efforts of the government to fight corruption cannot fall within the ambit of the Rule of law.  Such will in the words of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu become “the Rule by law”

 

Though it is very important that all public officials and citizens alike respect the law in their actions. Majority of our great jurist and philosophers who have expanded this theory have realized that the idea of the rule of law goes beyond this. The insufficiency of demanding that everybody refrain from breaking the law as it is, was revealed in the concept of “national security” and “national interest”. These phrases vague and equivocal as they are, are very potent weapons in the hands of the judex to protect what it considers to be the interest of the generality of the people. As shown in the testimonies of two South African journalists A. Harber and I. Manoim in their article “ Capricious censorship” Newsweek Magazine of 12 December, 1988 thus:

 

“South African censorship has always had an Orwellian quality. For example, the National Key Points Act of 1980 forbids one from photographing a “key point”. What is a key point? Nobody knows, because the government says that if it told us, the “enemy” would know where to plant bombs. We will find out what a ‘key point is’ is only when we photograph it and fined or sent to prison for doing so…Three newspaper have been temporarily suspended in the last eight months, not because they have broken any law or have ever been accused of breaking a law or have been accused of breaking a law, but because the Minister of Home Affairs Stoffel Botha has decided that they are a threat to public safety. He does not have to explain his decision. The minister sets the rules. What are those rules? He alone knows. We find out only when we break them. Even if we begin to understand what it is he objects to our newspaper, he may change his mind as he pleased and rewrite the rules…All of this is dressed up in an elegant facade reasonableness and due process”.

 

As stated by the duo of the South African journalists such issues that are regarded as of National importance or of National interest are in most cases not codified or found in any statute. They are known only to the few in the corridor of powers and they only determine what constitute National interest or National importance.   Therefore, if we have all agreed that corruption constitutes a menace to our nascent   democracy and collective well being, the fight against same should be seen as a matter of national importance, national interest and indeed national security.

 

The cause of corruption is four-fold: political, economic, social, and environmental. It constitutes is a menace to our democracy and the rule of law and the main cause of our economic instability leading to the depletion of our national wealth. It is the singular reason why our policy makers often make use of our scarce public resources to award uneconomic high-profile projects, to the detriment of simple, basic and necessary projects such as schools, hospitals and roads, or the supply of power and water to rural areas. In the recent times, the power project, telecommunications among others rank high. The rule of law undermined, leads to impoverished economy thus impact more on the poor. The effect of corruption on the social fabric of society is the most damaging of all. People's trust in the political system, in its institutions and its leadership is corroded.

 

Elected leaders and public officers turn national assets into personal wealth leaving the country drained of its most able and most honest citizens.

 

Indeed, it is a painful irony. The situation in Nigeria is not an exemption as VERMONT SUPREME COURT JUSTICE JOHN DOOLEY during the UROL Transparency Audit in October, 2006 has this to say:

                  

“By international standards, the Ukraine courts are

 Are among the least transparent in the world, and that lack of transparency helps breed corruption and prevents establishment of public trust and confidence in the system even when corruption is absent. Some progress being made, but the reform measures are weak and are slowly being implemented”

 

Indeed the later part of JUSTICE JOHN DOOLEY is the exact truth reality in our judicial system today. In the words of Jeremy Pope, the Executive Director of Transparency International, in discussing the consequences of corruption, he said and I quote:

 

“… is well‑known, corruption engenders wrong choices.  It encourages competition in bribery, rather than in quality and price of goods and services. It inhibits the development of a healthy marketplace. Above all, it distorts economic and social development and nowhere with greater damage than in developing countries. Too often, corruption means that the world’s poorest must pay for the corruption of their own officials and of companies from developed countries, although they are least able to afford its costs. Moreover, available evidence shows that if corruption is not contained, it will grow. Once a pattern of successful bribes is institutionalized, corrupt officials have an incentive to demand larger bribes, engendering a “culture” of illegality that in turn breeds market inefficiency”.

 

I am of the opinion without more that the greatest damage that can be done by corruption is institutionalizing itself thus becoming not only a trend but a culture.   

 

The structure has been erected by architects of consummate skill and fidelity; its foundations are solid; its compartments are beautiful as well as useful; its arrangements are full of wisdom and order; and its defenses are impregnable from without.  It has been reared for immortality if the work of man may justly aspire to such a title.  It may, nevertheless, perish in an hour by the folly, or corruption or negligence of its only keepers ‑ the people. Republics are created ‑‑ by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens.  They fall, when the wise are banished from public councils, because they dare to be honest and the profligate are rewarded, because they platter the people, in order to betray them.  

 

The need to mount a relentless war against corruption was long highlighted by that erudite, resourceful and utilitarian judge of our time Hon. Justice Kayode Eso JSC (Retired) in 1992 in his book Reflections on 32 years of Nigerian Nationhood at pages 12 – 13 when he declare thus:

 

“Corruption helped in a large sense in the destruction of two (first and second) Republics, that even the grassroots sold their franchise for money! As soon as the First Republic was established, the ugly epithet ‘ten percenters’ was evolved. Highly placed officials in the public sector were reported to have been inflating contract prices by ten percent of their value. They were actively and shamefully aided and encouraged by foreigners at our shore. The notoriety as a result thereof spread beyond the confines of the country and Nigerian public officers were branded as ten – per center – officials over the business world. The shame of it was that the part played by the foreign aides was subliminated. People lived beyond their means. Ostentation was exclaimed. The officials wore very rich robes even they were begging for loans! Houses consequently sprang up in the priced and choicest area. Foreign contractors who had raked a large sum off public funds courtesy of the public officers and the foreign contractors who shared the guilt of the odium reputedly built these houses for public officers. Leadership by example? The example was to show off the money stolen in a more reckless manner. That was our country of the First Republic . The Second Republic did not fare better. Indeed, it was, from all accounts worse”.

Many people never knew that far back in 1989, attempts were made by the Honourable Prince Bola Ajibola SAN, the then Attorney General & Minister of Justice under the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida to wage war against corruption especially in high places. The task of finding a solution to the phenomenon of corruption was placed on the shoulders of Honourable Justice Kayode Eso when he was made to serve as the Chairman of the National Committee on Corruption and other Economic Crimes in Nigeria . That Committee following its terms of reference made far reaching recommendations and presented a draft law to the government known as Corrupt Practices and Economic Crimes Decree, 1990. That draft Decree contains 146 Sections and those Sections of the draft addressed four major areas namely:- Corruption and Economic Crimes, The Establishment of an Independent Commission against Corruption, Private investigations and Prosecution and the Corrupt practices court. Section 11 of that draft Decree was quite novel and there seem not to have been anything of such before in the history of Nigerian Criminal Justice System. The Draft Section reads:

 

 

“        11. (1) Any person who

(a)        owns or is in possession or is in control of money, property or resources disproportionate to his present or past emolument or earnings: or

(b)        is in possession or is in control of money, property or resources which is reasonably suspected to have been obtained corruptly or in circumstances, which amount to an offence under this Decree: or

(c)        maintains a standard of living above that which is commensurate with his present or past emolument or earnings, unless he gives an explanation satisfactory to the court as to how he came by same, commits an offence under this decree.

(2)     Where the court is satisfied in proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) of this Section that, having regard to the closeness of his relationship to the accused, and to other relevant circumstances, there is reason to believe that any person was holding money, property or resources as a gift, or loan without adequate consideration, from the accused; such money, property or resources shall, until the contrary is proved, be deemed to have been under the control or in possession of the accused person.”

Novel and Laudable as the draft decree appears to be, the then Military President threw same into the dust bin and all the recommendations never saw the light of the day. In fact, the administration of General Babangida inflicted insult into the injuries of Nigerians on the issue of corruption by returning all the stolen wealth and properties earlier confiscated from corrupt military and political leaders by General Muritala Muhammed shortly after receiving the recommendations of Justice Kayode Eso. Many of the properties so returned to the executive thieves dotted the various state capitals across the country from Lagos to Benin , Enugu , Ibadan , Kano and Jos. The beneficiaries of such ignoble act of Babangida who has stolen Nigerian’s blind had their loots returned to then with a backing Decree and to the consternation and dismay of the Nigerian people. Many of them now parade themselves as statesman.  In a speech entitled Nigeria and corruption, till death do them part by Honourable Justice Kayode Eso, the erudite judge has this to say:

“It means in simple language if one has properties in excess of his legitimate earnings and he cannot explain how he has come by them, he forfeits them to the government. Where he had transferred the properties to relations, friends or anybody whatsoever, the arm of the government shall extend to these properties where they may be lurking”.

In his view, the presumption of innocence whereby the prosecutor bears the onus of proving corrupt or unlawful acquisition or possession of properties is anti – people.  The onus of such proof should shift to the possessor of such properties or wealth and (s)he  should explain to the nation and to the satisfaction of the court how he came about same.

 

We all as stake holders in the project called Nigeria must bear in mind that corruption engenders the mismanagement of resources and this results in under – development, poverty, and chaos in the polity. It undermines corporate existence of the country, and especially in Nigeria where corruption has become so entrenched that people no longer listen to the government or trust the people in authorities not withstanding the declared intention of successive governments to rout corruption from the polity. Why the cynicism? The reasons are not far fetched and a few examples will suffice. As at today, 2nd December, 2009 successive Nigerian Government have recorded over 100 cases of uninvestigated corruption and corrupt practices. The Lagos Ibadan Express Road was twice awarded or slated for rehabilitation with contract running into several billions of naira awarded for same especially from Lagos to Sagamu end under the supervision of Chief Tony Ananih and Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe led Ministry of Works. Only the caricature picture of former President Olusegun Obasanjo mounted on the bill boards are presented to Nigerians as the outcome of the twice awarded. The Ibadan – Ife Second lane Road was commissioned less than 10 years ago after gulping hundreds billions of naira. That road was meant to be certain inches thick but at its commissioning, it was clear to all and sundry that the road was nothing but a death trap. Right from Alakia end of the road to Ikire, Gbongan, Akinlalu and Ife end no one but a murderer would certify same as fit and proper for motoring. The road had claimed thousands of life in the last seven years that only a sadistic government would have approved the payment for the contract of that road. The first lane that was constructed before I was born is still durable, potholes free and smooth. The Ministers of Works, the Contractors, and the Commission agents for that road are of course working the streets and taunting the rest of us ordinary mortal as if there is no God. What of the several billions of naira for the award of silos in the Eastern parts of the country? Where are the Silos? What of Ajaokuta contract deal of recent we heard of the contract scandal for the rehabilitation, refurbishment , and upgrading of certain equipments for the Nigeria Television Authority where the contract sum was said to have exceeded the entire sum budgeted for the hosting of the under – 17 world cup. The Punch Newspaper and indeed Azubuike its former director must be wondering now why they needed to decapitate so much energies into exposing a scam that would not be investigated even under a re-branding Ministry. As we speak, not less than 4 former Ministers are supposed to be facing criminal trials on allegation of graft. Some Senators and House of Representative members are not left out. What have become of the trials? Some of the trials have been on for over 3 – 4 years yet no head way. Some of these public officers have the temerity to hold on to their positions in government and even aspiring to contest elective posts. What can the ordinary Nigerians do to them? After all Nigeria is a Country of anything goes.

 

I have taken the pain to study the average Nigerian elite. He has no shame. He doesn’t resign public office, even in the face of glaring allegations of graft and abuse of office against him. However, he does not want to die. He fears death. The question then is what do we do to him, to make him thread the path of honour and save the rest of us from his avarice nature and insatiable appetite for filthy wealth? Something has to give. In other words, we have to do something.

 

WHAT IS TO BE DONE? THE WAY FORWARD

 

The starting point to my mind should be a comprehensive and holistic review of all the existing laws relating to corruption especially the EFCC Act, and the ICPC Act and the code of Conduct Act. This is necessary in order to plug the loopholes inherent in the existing legislations. The limitations to institutional capacity viz- a – vis combating corruption must be squarely addressed. Admittedly, there exist enough legislations in our statute books meant to address this problem but the bane of the efforts of the successive government has been lack of political will to build enduring institutions for the fight against corruption rather what has been in vogue is the creation of a personality cult as was the case with Ribadu. The entire operational institution of the erstwhile EFCC was built around one man and that made him an easy prey for manipulation for political interests. A cursory look at the EFCC Act and the ICPC Act would reveal that both acts contains corrupt version of the Eso’s draft Decree on Corruption and other Economic crimes in Nigeria. It is my view that the contents of the Eso’s draft Decree be injected into the EFCC Act and the ICPC Act fully.

 

There is also the need for a synergy and or collaboration between the EFCC, the ICPC, the Code of Conduct, the NDLEA, the Custom and Exercise, the immigration, the tax board at all levels and professional bodies such as the Nigerian Bar Association, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Institute of Taxation, the Nigerian Union of Journalists, the Institute of Auditors, the Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers and the Institute of Quantity Surveyors, Sociologists and Criminologists in the Universities. This is necessary in order to beat fraudulent political office seekers/holders that have the penchant for making anticipatory declarations of assets. A man or woman who makes outrageous asset declarations before the Code of Conduct Bureau should have his forms sent to the Tax board to see how much he has paid as taxes on the declared assets and whether the tax paid was commensurate with his declared income. The services of the professionals mentioned above would also be very crucial in the fight against corruption at all levels. Apart from having the representative of the professional bodies highlighted in all the institutions charged with the responsibility to fight corruption and economic crimes. The said professional bodies would be in a position to recommend suitable professionals as employees/ consultants to the anti graft agencies.

The importance of the services of the professionals in combating corruption cannot be over emphasized. A governor who declared 7billion assets before the Code of Conduct Bureau will have the site of those assets visited by a team of quantity surveyors, and Estate valuers who will write a report as to the correct value of such, tangible assets. A lawyer would conduct a search as to the existence or other wise of such assets, how acquired, when acquired, when registered, stamp duties and consent duties paid and whether same is commensurate with the value of such assets. The tax expert of course, would do his own bit on the declarant viz – a vis the tax paid, the journalist and would play the role of undercover agent and of course the auditor would go into the books of accounts of the assets so declared.      

 

Apart from the fact that this method will bring sanity into Nigerian financial system, huge revenue would be generated to the government and no hiding place would be available to would be corrupt act perpetrators. Every elected and public holders must publish his in assets in at least three major national newspapers prior to and after holding such offices. It will be a no win situation, head or tail for would be corrupt public officers. Where he makes phantom anticipatory declaration of asset which is not commensurate with the tax paid, he goes to jail not only for non – payment of tax, or under payment but also for perjury having submitted a sworn declaration of assets. He or she would also stand disqualified from contesting elective posts for lying on oath. There is also the need to insert in the EFCC and ICPC Acts a penalty of Death sentence for any public officer, contractor, professional or private citizen found guilty of official corruption after a trial by a court competent jurisdiction. Those who aid and abet corruption and the beneficiaries therefrom should not be left out. The punishment shall be that of universal application as the practice in Singapore. There should be established for each state of the Federation a specialized court to try corruption cases and other economic and financial crime cases. Call it whatever name; it could be a constitutional court. The court must have a time frame within which to try corruption and cases of Economic and financial crimes ideally within duration of period not exceeding 6months.

 

There should be established the Office of Independent Prosecutors at the Federal Level and across the States of the Federation with powers to engage private legal practitioners to prosecute corrupt and economic and financial crime offences. These independent prosecutors should not be subject to the control and or supervision of the Attorney General of the Federation or the State. In other words the provisions of Sections 174 and 211 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 shall be inapplicable to the Office and functions of the independent prosecutors. The Attorneys General at all levels of government shall also not have power to discontinue or take over the prosecution of any corruption or economic and financial crime cases in court.

 

As stated earlier in this paper, the average Nigerian elite has no shame. He can do all despicable things in order to satisfy his greed but he does not want to die. There is therefore the need to erect in all the State capitals and the Federal Capital Territories execution points as it is the case in China . This will instill fear into the spine of the greedy elites whose major industry is the government upon which they feed. This proposal I submit will still be within the ambit of the law and will be covered by the rule of law. No person should be detained without trial. Trial and convictions on the pages of newspapers should not be tolerated.

 

The libel law should be strengthened to ensure that frivolous allegations are not made against innocent people and damages to be awarded against any media house or maker of such allegations should be such that would be enough to put such person or media houses out of business  as it the case in Singapore. Investigations of corrupt and economic crimes should be done discretely as it is the case in Western world especially the United States of America and Britain where you can be investigated for over ten years without you or the media getting to know. The 41 Nigerians that were rounded up for credit scam in the US in May ,2009 were investigated for over 3 years by the anti – graft agents of that country without the suspects getting to know even though the investigation went as far as covering Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt. Our anti – graft agencies are too media driven.

 

The judiciary is indeed member of the legal profession must rise to the challenge being daily posed by corruption. This is necessary in order to ensure that the confidence of the people in the Nigerian Legal System is not eroded. There must be liberal interpretations of any Statute that constitutes a barrier to a just and egalitarian society. The fundamental objective principles that deal with social justice, equality and economic emancipation for all cannot be attained in the face of adherence to technical interpretations of statutes such as Sections 138 of the Evidence Act which came with the phrase “prove beyond reasonable doubt”. Also the absurd interpretation of the Evidence Act by some Courts that does not recognize the existence of computer print out of statement of account is not only backward but archaic and anachronistic. One would have thought that with the advent of modern technologies the products like computers, GSM, lasers, etc would have a bearing on our courts but not so to some pedantic and timorous soul judex who still operate the grand father telephone mentality forgetting that laws are made for men and not the other way round.

 

No one captured this absurdity of penchant for adherence to undue technicalities in the face of modern demand for justice more vividly than Honourable Justice Chima Nweze of the Court of Appeal when on the 30th November, 2009 called for discontinuance of technical rules in Advocacy to achieve speedy dispensation of justice and ensure social justice. Nweke said the resort to such technicalities had made the temple of justice to be likened to abattoirs where “legal practitioners” daily butcher substantive issues in their fencing game in which parties engaged in an exercise of outsmarting each other; with technical rules becoming so triumphant that often times the justice of the case before the court was left lying prostrate. “the inveterate canons of adversarial jurisprudence, which forbade the judge from descending into the real cause of conflicting  were often misapplied , resulting to situations where judges often sat back and watched helplessly as lawyers dissipated and squandered the precious time of the court in nauseating applications and all sorts of forensic acrobatics. “ Vibrant judiciary”, he said “is a system that can dispense justice expeditiously without fear or favour” The casualties, he added, were speedy dispensation of justice and the integrity of the judicial adjudicatory system. Apart from the role of the new regimes of court rules in defining advocacy in Nigeria , the renowned jurist called for a paradigm shift in advocacy that should involve public interest litigations, which he described as “an existentialist praxis” in advocacy.

A form of judicial government being advocated here should approach constitutional and other extant laws from a beneficial point of view. The judex need to keep in mind that his decision in court would go a long way in determining the extent to which social justice, economic emancipation and justice for all is attained. The judex must also be in a position to render a body of jurisprudence that promotes the welfare of the larger society. The idea of slavish adherence to technicalities in the face of glaring evidence to the contrary is an ill – wind that blows nobody any good.

 

At the International Bar Association, IBA conference in Madrid, Spain in 2009, one of the sessions on fraud and anti – money laundering dealt extensively with the role of lawyers in combating economic crimes and corruptions. It was stressed that the primary duty of any lawyer is the uncompromising loyalty to his country and that lawyers by their special callings have special roles to play in ensuring that the interest of the larger society takes precedents over and above any pecuniary gains derivable from the brief of a client.

 

The idea of whistle – blowing was canvassed even though most Nigerian lawyers present at the session agreed that the lousy security situation in Nigeria will impair any effort by Nigerian lawyers to embrace this idea.

 

In Nigeria of today, nobody is safe except those in government. Unresolved murder and assassinations are the order of the day and a sizeable number of Nigerians have been victims of such. They include a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige SAN, Chief Ajibola Olanipekun SAN, Barnabas Igwe, former Chairman of the NBA Onitsha branch and his wife, to mention but a few. The security situation in Nigeria is very precarious and this brings us to the role of the law enforcement agents especially the Police, the Army, NDLEA, and the Custom and Excise personnel.

 

The way and manner of recruitment of these personnel and the salary and emoluments attached to their offices are nothing to write home about. In fact, Nigeria is seen as an unserious country in terms of security. How do you explain a situation where Nigerian can only boast of 1 policeman to 433 Nigerians?  These security personnel are not well catered for by any standard. The uniform they wear they buy themselves, the touch light they use, shoes, belts are all paid for from their meager salaries. The salary itself is not a living wage. No accommodation, no transport allowance, no transportation, no modern equipment of any kind. It was reported early this year by the Commissioner of Police of Oyo State in the wake of incessant armed robbery operations that the entire police command could boast of only 20 bullet proof vests, thank God, Alao Akala administration just made a donation of security equipments to the State Police command early this month. The customs and NDLEA officials are not any better. Salaries of policemen are not paid as at when due, hence the clamour for stoppage to toll collection by police men on check points goes unheeded. The question then is how do you fight corruption with the aid of underfed, underpaid, under quipped and ill – trained security personnel? This problem must be addressed if we are desirous of combating the menace of corruption headlong.

 

The problem of corruption in Nigeria is political and this touches on every facet of our national life. It is a manifestation of the lack of political will on the part of the state and its failure to maintain law and order. It was once argued by Dukor in 2006, that where there is political corruption, the state will necessarily be immersed in corrupt practices because there will be no moral laws to uphold. One cannot agree more. A situation where so called elected officers are imposed, where the votes of the electorates does not count, where the electoral system stinks to high heaven there will necessarily breed embezzlement, contract inflations, diversion of funds, and outright stealing of public funds. There will be lack of accountability. Little wonders that the present crops of elected representatives in Nigeria are not accountable to anybody. According to Mabaoogunje (1999) Accountability of Elected representative and elected/approved public officers to the people is the hallmark of any democratic dispensation that operate within the ambit of the rule of law. This proposition by Maboogunje I am afraid is alien and unknown to Nigerian elected representatives and Public Officers. They rationalize evil by posing the hypothetical question of “do you know how much I spent to become Governor, Senator, House of Representative member/ Local Government Chairman” as if the electorate was consulted before he mortgaged all he had worked for to  a godfather to secure nomination.

 

The Church and Mosque that should be custodian of moral rebirth have thrown decorum to the dogs. Clergymen now celebrate corruption, election rigging and even conduct thanksgiving services for electoral rouges notwithstanding the fact that the CAN and NSCIA have condemned same. Some even place advertorial in the newspapers to congratulate election riggers. They rationalize evil by preaching fatalism and support whosoever is in government whether he got there by crook or hook. There is no national institution today that is free of filth. Our sense of value and value system has gone to the dogs. Watch with dismay how celebrated clergymen fall over themselves to celebrate with known election riggers, cultists, and political office holder and even certified murderers. LORD have mercy.

 

There use to be the saying that “never trust a Nigerian until he holds public office” I think the phrase should read properly “Never trust a Nigerian until he hold position of trust” I refuse to believe  that corruption is a Nigerian. The vast majority of our people are very honest, diligent, and hardworking they fear Almighty God. The little stinkers who steal the nation blind are very small in number and in fact I doubt whether there are up to ten thousand in a country of over more than 140 million people. They are everywhere. They are in commerce, industry, politics, civil service, military, legal profession, media, the church, the mosque, and indeed the entire fiber of the society. Though very few but powerful. However, one thing is very clear; they are not as powerful as God and the will of the people. Come therefore, let us join hands together to confront and destroy them before they destroy our common wealth and nationhood.

 

We can afford to lose them. We can afford to do without them. There is enough for everybody’s need in this country but not enough for everybody’s greed. Let us rise up therefore to blow the whistle on them. Smoke and fish them out. Your representatives or neighbours who amass wealth or possess assets that are not commensurate with his earnings should be identified and reported not only to the security agencies but also to the media. Don’t be afraid to die for a noble cause. Of course, you are dying by installments if you condone corruption. Your brothers and sisters are dying on Lagos – Ibadan Expressway daily, on IbadanIfe Road daily, on Sagamu – Benin Road daily, on Onitsha Owerri Road daily, on Lafia- Makurdi- Abuja road, or Kano Abuja road Daily. Join the crusade for public execution of corrupt public officers today and you will be leaving a worthy legacy for your children yet unborn even if they succeed in snuffing life out of you. As enjoined by God in Qur’an 40 v 19.

 

The wrong doers will have neither friends nor any effective intercessors. Eschew wrong for on the Day of Judgment wrong will become manifold darkness; and safeguard yourself against corruption, for corruption ruined those who were before you. It incited them to murder and to treat the unlawful. When I appoint someone from among you to public office and he puts away by stealing a needle or even something less. That is corruption, and he will be called to produce it on the Day of Judgment.”

 

And the same God Almighty said in the Holy Bible Amos Chapter 5 verses 11 – 27:

 

“Forasmuch therefore, as you are threading is upon the poor and you take from his burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them. For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right. Therefore, the prudent shall keep silence in that time for it is an evil time. Seek good and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of Hosts, shall be with you, as he has spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of Hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph. Therefore the LORD, the God of Hosts, the LORD saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the High ways, Alas! Alas! And they shall call the husbandman to mourning and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing. And in all vineyards shall be wailing; for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD. Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! To what end is it for you? The day of the LORD is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? Even very dark, and no brightness in it? I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel ? But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. Therefore will I cause you go to into captivity beyond Damascus , saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts”.

 

And all the people say Amen.

 

I thank you all for your patience.

 

 

 

 

CHIEF ADENIYI AKINTOLA, SAN

FEBRUARY, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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