CURRENT ISSUES:  EFCC media trial, an aberration

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Olayinka Dauda Jimoh is the Chairman of the Young Lawyers’ Forum (YLF), Ilorin branch, Kwara State. In this interview with our JUDICIARY CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI, he speaks on the need for the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to caution Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on its mode of operations. Excerpts:
National Assembly has asked Federal Government to reverse its order of revoking firearms from private individuals, how do you see this ?
For President to take such position, there must be something behind it. We all know what is happening in Nigeria today where we have vandalisation of public property, extra judicial killings of citizens and many other criminalities.
When a crime is committed, firearms are involve. I will rather back Federal Government. There is even no law that allows paramilitary to use gun, of course, law allows individuals who have licence to use gun. But, there are restrictions to the kind of gun one can use as a private individual. The President took that decision to curb crime in our communities. National Assembly doesn’t have any power under law to compel the President to reverse the decision that has already been taken unless such decision contravenes the law. There should be a restriction to how we use guns and ammunitions, otherwise, our country will turn to where anyone can kill and be killed.
There seems to be a kind of leadership crisis rocking National Assembly; how do you think this can be managed?
Going by the position of the law, any member-elect is qualified to vie for any post at the Assemblies both in the state and at the national level. Though in the time past, we have had situations where executive appoints for the legislature, that’s not the position of the law, the members-elect, should come together and elect their leaders though lobbying, politicking are allowed. In the forthcoming National Assembly where APC has majority both at the Reps and Senate, ideally, the party will want to have their people as leaders. Whoever the members vote will at the end emerge the leader. But no one can impose leader on the National Assembly, the NASS should be allowed to pick their leaders. At the state level, Kwara State for instance, Saheed Popoola is the most experienced lawmaker in the house but, in whatever we do, there is politics in it, if we go by that, we will be marginalising the Northerners  who have not held any important post for the past 8 years. In this new government, the state Governor comes from the central, Deputy from the South, there is need for the Speaker to come from the North. But, as far as I’m concerned, in whatever we do, competence and experience are very important and we shouldn’t sacrifice that on the altar of politics.
The President fails to give speech after he was sworn-in on May 29th, this development has attracted lots of condemnations from Nigerians, what’s your take?
What president did was an abberation to the common trend. When one administration finishes and another comes up, it’s important the new government tell Nigerians what it intends to do for the country in the next four years. Though there is no law that compel President to give a speech but as we have it in very four years, even during the military regime, there is always a speech. Before now, we are all aware of when Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said every ceremony about the swearing in will be deferred to June 12, then, nobody criticised him. In fact, he said, president will only be sworn-in, nothing more. This President has a preference for June 12 over May 29, because, Democracy Day is now June 12. My fear is that the next administration may not want to follow this trend especially if the President doesn’t emerge from the ruling party.
Some Nigerians have condemned the operation of EFCC in Kwara State especially the aspect of posting pictures of suspects, carrying placards on social media, what do you have to say about this?
Seriously speaking, this act of EFCC and other anti-graft agencies are condemnable, barbaric, unconstitutional. You cannot see this kind of EFCC operation anywhere in the world. What the agency is doing is media trial that has no place in our law. Even if one appears before God, He will still ask one questions before condemnation follows. We call on President to caution EFCC, their act doesn’t give glory to the fight against corruption. It happens not only in Kwara State but everywhere. You cannot arrest a suspect and take him to your own court, and afterwards, convict the person. How many members of the public will know if those people they’ve displayed their placards on the social media are later exonerated in the court? The public condemnations is a very strong stigma which will continue hanging on the neck of those whose pictures have been posted on the internet. This stigma will follow them to the grave, their children and unborn generations will read about it. Once a thing is posted on social network, it cannot be removed again, anyone who is a victim of this should approach court for redress. Once EFCC start getting some damages to pay, I think they will change their style.

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