Issa Manzuma is the immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ilorin branch and the last general election governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in Kwara State. He shares his views with our JUDICIARY CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI, on the idea of take a bow and go adopted by the National Assembly in screening ministerial nominees. He also delves into the controversy surrounding the continued detention of the leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria and National Security Adviser and Col. Sambo Dasuki among other issues. Excerpts:
The issue of RUGA since it was proposed and retracted by the Federal Government has not stopped generating discourse among members of the public, what is your take on the development?
For now the idea of RUGA settlement or ranches has been suspended because of the controversy it has generated in some states especially in the South-West, South-East and South-South and even a few states in the North-Central. I think our decisions especially on government programmes should be well informed, should pass through sound discipline. I know RUGA settlement predate Nigeria independence. In the colonial era, we had ranches and their routes. The need to revive the ranches system was informed by unnesseary clashes which sometimes led to communal clashes and many people died in the course especially in Benue State. We have ranches before the independence in a place in Calabar not even in the North. Recently, there was kidnapping in Edu Local Government of Kwara State, that was the first in history, unfortunately, the culprits were found to be Fulanis, the herdsmen, there are lots of unnecessary criminalities associated with Fulanis but notwithstanding, they are contributing their quota to national development. Everybody eat meat, drink milk everyday, we need to be careful, we cannot send them away because they are part of us. When situation arises, the appropriate thing is to devise a solution to it. If the Fulanis are becoming sophisticated, what we need to do is to caution them. I’m of the humble view that selected states that are interested in ranches accommodate Fulanis among them. In any case, the idea of ranches, is the modern way of rearing cattle, we have places like Australia and most of these civilised countries where they have cattle, they don’t allow the cattle to go all about.
The idea of ‘take a bow and go’ adopted in screening of some ministerial nominees by the Senate has attracted public condemnations, what is your view?
Detailed screening of the ministerial nominees may go, beyond take a bow and go, but before a minister will be presented to the Senate for confirmation, the DSS must have done their job. I believe the DSS will do their job. As chairman of the NBA, DSS would call me even from other states to confirm the eligibility of candidates presented as a judge of the High Court or National Industrial Court, all this is done without the knowledge of the candidate or the applicant. DSS would have presented details information of their findings concerning the ministerial nominees. It’s a political appointment, I can assure of the fact that some people will perform well before the Senate and may fail to perform in the office. Eloquence at the Senate is different from performance in office. We cannot compare one Assembly to the other because in the previous assemblies, we are not use to that. But honestly, there is nothing wrong with it.
Some people are of the opinion that the current 9th Assembly will be rubber stamp in the hands of the executive?
We must avoid a situation of legislative autocracy in a democracy. At the same time, we don’t expect rubber stamp National Assembly. Let them perform their constitutionally assigned roles according to law not according to whims and caprices of the members of the executives. This roles are assigned by the constitution and there is limit to what the legislature can do, we have security challenge everywhere.
What is the legality behind the continued detention of the Shiite group leader and Col Sambo Dasuki?
They’ve been granted bail times without number but the Federal Government failed to comply with the order. I’ve never seen the court order anyway but as a lawyer, I would have wanted Federal Government to publish it with the report on the refusal to grant the bail. Whatever may be the view of government, court order must be complied with.
Is there any portion of the law that allows the executive to flout court order?
The development is contrary to the tenet of democracy. Once order is given, it must be obeyed.