The issue of the University of Ilorin Law graduate, Firdaus Amasa who sacrificed her ‘Call to Bar’ on the dais of religion as continued to spawn reactions in the legal profession. A veteran legal luminary in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, Akin Akintoye II however shares his views on the issue with KAYODE ADEOTI. Excerpts:
At the last ‘Call to Bar’, a student was disqualified from the exercise because she insisted on not removing her hijab for religious reason, this has generated lots of reactions especially among pious Muslims in Kwara State, being a onetime teacher of law; can you put things in the right perspective?
On the issue of the Law graduate who was of disqualified from being called to bar based on the issue of hijab. I think the whole idea is misplaced and the controversy it generated is unnecessary because it’s going to set us backward. We must know that Nigeria is a secular nation, in other words, we’ve not adopted any term of religion. The issue of religion should not be put in place in a situation like this. Also, before this lady got admitted into the Nigeria law school, she must have been told of the rules and regulations that governs the institution which to me she must have conceded and agreed to oblige to this issue of hijab is part of the those things that are there. If she had subjected herself to this regulation, she did not object to it all along, why would she now be turning around now asking for a fundamental human right (if any) to be guaranteed. In addition, I know in the Nigerian law school, you must attend about two dinners if not more which are called statutory dinner, in this occasion, one is supposed to dressed as a lawyer and I’m not sure hijab is allowed at the dinner. Beyond this, some people are behind it and I believe they just want to bring up unnecessary controversy and if it not nipped in at the bud, there will be no end to it. Since the issue of religion has been brought to the fore in the polity of Nigeria, how far has it helped us as a nation? Has it improved our economy, our perspection by comity of nations? On the contrary, it is setting us backward and it is unfortunate, those people who are supporting this are agents of backwardness.
Corruption according to some legal folks have graduated from the bar to the bench… What can you say about this?
Corruption is endemic and it’s in all facets in Nigeria. It has affected all aspects of life even the so called religious bodies, it is pronounced among Muslims and Christians clergies, no one is left out in the menace. Narrowing it to the judiciary, it is not out of place but the issue is that, it is time we address it. The step taken by the Federal Government is commendable, it’s often said, if we don’t fight corruption, it is going to kill us, and the way government is going about it, we can see that corruption itself is trying to fight back, but it’s a good thing we are getting somewhere. However, I will not tell you whether there is corruption in the judiciary or there is none, but it is everywhere. And events have shown that it is just some few people polluting our system and I believe, in no time, they will all be flushed out.
Some concerned individuals in the country have berated President Muhammadu Buhari over the calibre of people in his cabinet especially the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami… What do you have to say about that?
I will not agree with that, the cabinet consists of reliable hands whose mettle is unquestionable. In the case of the Malami, he is very qualified, competent and knowledgeable to handle that office; I’m not in consonance with the assertions of some people that he’s incompetent. But we should understand that Nigeria is a complex nation, there are so many intricacies in governance and except one is there and see how things are being done, one will not be able to give an objective opinion of what goes on there. Most of us observing things, there is little to what we can know except the one made available to us in the media.
Ritual killings seems to be prevailing especially in our state in recent times as some culprits have been arrested and arraigned in court for the act, do you see the promulgation of certain laws curbing the menace?
I agree that it’s on the increase but two major things are responsible, first is poverty, let us address our economy and electoral system in this country. It is time to flush out all the politicians that have been there for ages, they have done us no good as a country. They want to continue to remain relevant in power which is not right.
It seems the impact of the special courts created by government has not been efficacious…
The way it was created, certain judges have been assigned to handle special cases in the court but we must understand our legal system even with the constitution that governs it. Our legal system, as it is in Nigeria is very slow, going by the books, it gives room for slowness and we have seen it in several cases. Our legal system has to be overhauled. I believe not all cases must get to the Supreme Court, landlord matter has taken us up to Supreme Court in the past, I have handled one in the past, and it lasted for 15 years.