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Buhari President should suspend rule of law for one year – Niyi Akintola

Akintola also said the issue of corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the country.

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President Muhammadu Buhari play President Muhammadu Buhari

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Niyi Akintola has said that some Nigerians will support President Buhari if he uses any tough tactics that works to fight corruption.

Akintola said the issue of corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the country.

He said “If our president decides to employ the tactics of the Chinese and Singaporeans, we will back him.”

Akintola also said “All our president needs to do is to go to the National Assembly, call the state Houses of Assembly, more so now that governors are telling him to declare the state of emergency on the economy. He can bring in the issue of corruption and ask that we suspend the rule of law for one year because a drastic problem requires a drastic solution and Femi Falana supported me. We stood up for Nigeria and we said this thing is killing Nigeria. But having sworn to abide by the constitution, he (the president) cannot use extra-constitutional means.”

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said this in an interview with The Tribune.

Read an excerpt of the interview below:

There have been divergent views on the raid on judges by the DSS. What is your position on the DSS’s action?

Every commentator on this issue should be made to declare their interest first. If we declare our interests, we will know where we are coming from. There are those who are government apologists, who work through one agency or the other. There are those who have enjoyed patronage, whose comments don’t come to some of us as a surprise. There are those who are looking for patronage from the government. So, when they are making comments, people should take their comments with a pinch of salt.

There are those who are utterly objective, like us. We were in the trenches to see the emergence of this government and we naturally will not want it to fail. But there are those far away; we did not see them near the trenches and they are now forcing us to say things we have been keeping to ourselves. So, every one of us should be asked where our interest lies on this issue. In the first place, there are certain things that you must keep in perspective. One, there is no doubt that corruption is killing Nigeria.

Two, there is no doubt that President Muhammadu Buhari is fit to fight corruption. There is also no dispute as to the fact that I am committed to the fight. Of course, there is also no dispute as to the fact that this is a democratically elected government and he (the president) took an oath to abide by the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Let me say that the reality staring us in the face is that to fight corruption, we need to employ some extra-constitutional tactics. But when you look at the scenario playing out now, you begin to wonder whether those advising the president or those around him are doing any serious thinking. About two and a half weeks ago, we were in Washington DC, United States of America and for six days, the issue of corruption in Nigeria came to the fore.

 It was not limited to Nigeria. Femi Falana and I stood up for our president and his modus operandi in faraway Washington. It is not that we love some of his tactics but we thought that a drastic problem requires a drastic solution. In fact, right there, I suggested that Nigeria should withdraw its signatures to all treaties that are hampering the fight against corruption – ICC treaties and what have you – and I gave the example of the United States of America.

My posture at the conference over that issue was necessitated by the World Bank representative who presented a paper and told us the difficulties we will be facing to get our money (looted funds) back. He went on to say that we must fight corruption with human face and I stood up and said, ‘Look, why play the ostrich? Here in Washington, you have established a place where you keep prisoners without following the rule of law.

Nobody is questioning you for that for the fact that you are the father of democracy in the world. But you knew you could not do that within the four walls of United States and you moved them somewhere else and people are dying every day for 12 years running. Nobody is castigating you for that. In fact, the United States is not a signatory to the ICC convention so as to avoid being accused of war crimes’. I said, ‘Are you expecting Nigeria to comply with all these protocols limiting our efforts? You have just told us to our faces that we have got less than six per cent of our looted funds from Abacha alone.

 Abacha died in 1998, 18 years now, and our money is still lying in the World Bank’. I said, ‘If our president decides to employ the tactics of the Chinese and Singaporeans, we will back him’. All our president needs to do is to go to the National Assembly, call the state Houses of Assembly, more so now that governors are telling him to declare the state of emergency on the economy. He can bring in the issue of corruption and ask that we suspend the rule of law for one year because a drastic problem requires a drastic solution and Femi Falana supported me. We stood up for Nigeria and we said this thing is killing Nigeria. But having sworn to abide by the constitution, he (the president) cannot use extra-constitutional means.

You will remember that in a newspaper interview in March, I raised the alarm that the legal profession was under siege. I remember that my colleagues at the body of Senior Advocates set up a body over the issue. As a matter of fact, the interview was circulated; it was printed for members to see. I gave instances of the breach of the rule of law by Mr President. When people talk about using technicality and what have you, I am happy our leader, Chief Wole Olanipekun, has said that much to him; that we used that same technicality to get him there. When people speak about technicality in law, technicality is part of jurisprudence. If you don’t know your onions and you are careless and your opponent uses technicality to keep you out, too bad.

I told our colleagues three days ago that we know what we did to assist this man. When we saw that the nation was drifting under (former President Goodluck) Jonathan, leaders like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi and Danjuma Goje took steps to stop the drift. At no cost to the APC, I manned the north-eastern part of the country for the All Progressives Congress (APC). My juniors are alive. Danuta Goji is alive.

Apart from logistics, APC incurred no cost. My juniors then would wake up in the morning and go to court to check whether anything had been filed against Buhari. We did that for over seven weeks; monitoring the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawyers, monitoring the PDP, who were so desperate to prevent him from contesting election. At any point, if they filed anything, we got to know within seconds. Our juniors were in the court registry from morning till 4:30 p.m., when the court would close and we were doing that religiously.

Those who are now shouting, the influence peddlers of today, were nowhere near what we did. Chief Olanipekun, Fagbemi, Kola Awodein, even the vice president, Emeka Ngige, we policed the courts in the entire six geopolitical zones. Mahmoud Mogaji was in Sokoto monitoring what was going on in the North-West. Chief Olanipekun led the team.

It is the same legal system that brought him [the president] to power that he wants to destroy. The first thing that he did was to go outside the country and start lambasting judges, the judiciary. I catalogued the scenes. This is not what we worked for. No doubt about it, the president has good intention but in running a country as complex as Nigeria, good intention is not enough.

Coming to the issue at hand, it is CAP 74 Law of Nigeria 1986 that created the security agencies that we have but there is none known as DSS. We don’t have such in our statutes. In fact, DSS is an illegal body. We have SSS. The provision of that Act is very clear. Three security agencies were established under that Act. There is nothing like DSS. DSS is an illegal body created out of the whims and caprices of some people. You will recall that under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the door of the house of Chief Mike Adenuga was pulled down. The man had to run for his life to Ghana and he never returned to Nigeria until former President Jonathan came to power.

We don’t like a situation like that. Most of the people who are commenting today don’t even know the far-reaching implications. It is not about these judges. Let us not make a mistake about it. All is not well about the Nigerian judiciary as it is. There is no doubt about the fact that there is corruption in the system but people are generalising it. I don’t speak about the judiciary publicly but for the first time in my life, I came out to say, ‘look, stakeholders, senior lawyers, senior judges, speak out about what is happening at the Federal High Courts, about conflicting judgments’. What we saw then was bizarre, despicable. All is not well, there is no doubt about that but in killing a fly, we don’t use a sledgehammer. You don’t set the house on fire because you want to kill a snake and that is what is happening now.

Now we have an illegal body calling itself DSS. Do you know that if what happened had been done by the EFCC, ICPC or the police, nobody would be talking about illegality now?  We would just be talking about the procedures. But here is an illegal body that also embarked on wrong procedures. So, two things are involved here. In other words, the foundation of the action itself is faulty. Assuming without conceding they took the position of SSS, that they have assumed the nomenclature of SSS, look at the provisions, powers and duties of SSS.

President Buhari has come under fire lately, over his comment about his wife, Aisha Buhari belonging to his kitchen and living room.

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