In this interview with KAYODE ADEOTI, the current Head of Department of Private and Property Law, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Professor Raheem Kolawole Salman speaks on the provision of law concerning court order, police arrest, detention among other germane issues. Excerpts.
Sir, Would you consider it appropriate for Evans, allegedly the greatest kidnapper of our time to sue government over his arrest and detention?
On the issue of Evans, the great kidnapper, there are lots of problems in Nigeria today that is not helping the case, which the media, the government, the society even the police are orchestrating. Looking at the impact of the police in the matter, we were only told he said this and that but we don’t know yet if those things we were told he said were true or they were obtained under duress, there were no concrete evidences to those facts. We need to know that only the court can get all those facts at the appropriate time. Evans, when he was arrested, Nigerians believed he’s a criminal and they have passed guilty sentenced on him, which is wrong. The position of the constitution is very clear, section 36 (5) (6) states that; every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he’s proved guilty. So why would you and I say he is guilty already, has he been pronounced so? The answer is no. Every accused person should be tried in a properly constituted court, it is then that if he’s found guilty, appropriate punishment will be melted. He has gone to court through his lawyer, section 35 (4,5) of the 1999 of the constitution says, “For any person who is arrested or detained in accordance with sub (1c) of this section shall be brought before the court of law within a reasonable time and if he’s not tried within a reasonable period of two months from the date of his arrest or detention in the case of a person who is in custody …in the case of an arrest in any place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction, within the radius of 40 kilometre a period of one day, in any other case, a period of two days, now look at since when he was arrested, has he been taken to court? We heard that some people he kidnapped died; they should have charged him for murder. What we now see on television is that he is been taking from one prison to the other. The youth should learn lesson from this, irrespective of the economic hardship, they should find something worthwhile doing, and if they can’t afford to go to school they can pick up a trade. There are carpenters, tailors who are very successful today, they can engage in jobs like these rather than going into crime.
Going by the present administration’s crusade against corruption, lots of money have been recovered, and heard about it again…?
That is another problem in Nigeria, our government is not a responsible one, by now we ought to have been told where the money is going into, even the EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu does not know the amount he has collected because National Assembly asked him and he was unable to give an answer. Until we have a government that is accountable to the people, it is only then we will be able to understand who is taking what and where it is going to.
In spite of the anti corruption crusade, it seems is on the increase every day, what would you suggest as the best panacea for the menace?
Let me start by commending the present government, they’ve taken a bold step. In the past, these corrupt figures in the country are untouchable but today, they are been called to come and answer some questions, that is the beginning and its highly appreciated. However, I will advice the government not to rest on its oars, it should do more. Our anti-graft and the police should do their investigation thoroughly and media investigation should stop, it has hindered the court in convicting those that stole our money.
Do you subscribe to the allegation that the present government persecute rather than prosecute in its fight against corruption?
The government is creating that impression, Dasuki has gone to court for the enforcement of his fundamental right and the court has ordered that he should be released and he was not released. That is no longer prosecution but persecution. Order of court should be obeyed by anybody and the government is expected to be the first to obey it, but reverse is the case. Also, Dasuki has gone to Africa court, and his release was equally ordered. Releasing him doesn’t mean he would not face the trial again but it means he should go home for that period. After all, the offence committed is bailable, till date, he’s still in detention. The matter of Zakyzaky, he was ordered to be released to go home too but he was not released. That is not prosecution again but persecution. Court order should be obeyed by government.
…(Cuts in) If these people have been granted bail by government court, which government is holding them back again…?
In line with the provision of our constitution, we have separation of powers, section 4, 5, 6 talks about the legislature, executive and the judiciary. Each of them has its own peculiarity and function to perform, the court is doing its part but the executive is becoming lawless which is against the spirit of law and separation of power and that is exactly where the problems lie. It is between government and government. If the court has said they should not be released or it has sentenced them to life imprisonment, government would have been so happy.