Joseph Sunday Bamigboye, one of the Ilorin-based Senior Advocates of Nigerian has through his contributions to the development of the legal profession in the state carved a unique niche for himself. He however shares his views with our Judiciary Correspondent, KAYODE ADEOTI, on the alleged looters list released by the Federal Government of Nigeria recently among other issues. Excerpts:
The list of the alleged treasury looters released by the Federal Government recently has been causing concerns in the society… What do you consider as legal implications of this development?
Those that are aggrieved over it have condemned government for defamation, but truth is a complete defence, if indeed they looted and government has its facts, whether they’ve been convicted by any court or not, it can go ahead and call them thief. The onus is now on those on the list to go to court and challenge it.
The Governor of Ekiti State and some other Nigerians have attacked government for being partial over the list…? Do you subscribe to that?
It’s not rational to leave anyone out in the list, especially those who have allegedly partake in treasury looting of the country. There seems to be political undertone in the development, but the truth is that, this government will go, another will come but in the long run, the release of the list is good for the development of the country. I hope in our time, we will get to that state where someone who indulge in theft will be faced by his friends and be called a thief. But it seems we are not there yet, we are at the stage where people consider ethnicity, religion and the likes… The war against corruption it is better we start now than not embarking on it at all.
(Cuts in…) with this recent development, would you commend the war against corruption of this present government or condemn it?
For even bringing corruption on the front burner of our thinking, I commend the government. We are no longer in the society where the President will tell us that corruption is not stealing. But, today, people now know that corruption is stealing and it has been extended to nepotism. If you put up only members of your family in government, it is also corruption. Government has however succeeded in lifting our awareness, our orientation against corruption, the start maybe wobbling but it’s now in the consciousness of everyone that corruption is a cankerworm that must be destroyed. If we keep putting it on the front burner, our society will be better for it.
The charge of General TY Danjuma to Nigerians that they should defend selves against herdsmen killings has been supported by a Prof. of Law, Itsey Sagay, what do you consider could be the legal consequence of this?
The way government is fighting this herdsmen scourge is unfortunate, imagine the number of innocent souls that have been slaughtered and till now, not a single person has been arrested in connection with the killings. Danjuma and Prof. Sagay represent the true position of the law. Eveeyone is entitled to self defense, it’s rational and it’s common sense. If people are coming with AK 47 and the likes, and even, if the military are up and doing, but there is likelihood that before they come, I must have been killed by the so called enemies. I have the right to defend myself from been slaughtered. The condemnation of Danjuma is not rational to me because it is stating the obvious. We all have right to defend ourselves. Maybe the aspect of it the government is against is when he alleged that the police has connived with the criminal. But government should do more to show that it is not so, they should go beyond issuing press statement. Consider the number of people that were killed in Benue State, we are not in a lawless society, government should rise to the challenge.
Can citizens now start procuring guns for self defence or to what extent should defend selve?
That is dangerous and that’s why government is urging citizens to take caution over what Danjuma has said. But government must come out and do something about the issue. That was how America started, today they can’t stop it and the level of violence is on the rise. It may even lead to war here. But if we all agree that there must be need for self defence, everyone will start procuring AK 47 and many other weapons. But, self defence might not work, we must call on government to be alive to its responsibilities; for God sake other its failure might be disastrous.