Pilot Law

Current issues: Judiciary Autonomy will impact speedy trials, capital projects


Saka Isau, a legal luminary and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) served as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice as well as Secretary to the State Government (SSG) when the incumbent Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki was governor of the State between 2003 and 2007.

He speaks with our JUDICIARY CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI on the consequences of autonomy for the Judiciary among other issues. Excerpt:

What is the implication of the autonomy granted the judiciary by the Federal Government of Nigeria?

As we all know, there are three arms of government, the executive, legislative and the judiciary, but the judiciary is like a referee to both the executive and the legislative and if a referee is not independent or free, he will not be able to decide well. The implication of that is, the judiciary will be able to appoint judges at their own pace, will not wait for the executive, especially at the state level to do certain things. At the state level, if the judiciary is ready to appoint judges or Khadis, if there are no vehicles on ground, the NJC may not want to approve the appointment. But with this autonomy, the judiciary can buy car, writing materials, diesel and other necessary materials since they have the freedom to now do so. The implication will also aid speedy trials and I want to believe that it will equally reduce corruption.

In the Kwara State judiciary, like two or more judges or magistrates share one court for proceedings, with this autonomy, will there be provision of more courtrooms…?

I want to believe so, because if that autonomy is real, they should be able to carry out capital projects which will involve construction of more courtrooms and the problem of one judge waiting for the other to finish will become a thing of the past. It is a very good development.

How do you see the ongoing travail of the Senate President with the Nigerian Police, especially with the indictment in 5thApril, 2018, Offa robbery incident?

From the beginning of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) case in 2015 till now, I am part of his legal team, from the onset I have told those who care to listen that the whole thing is political. If somebody served from 2003 to 2011 and nothing was found against him, until when he became the Senate President against the wish of the Federal Government that they brought out non declaration of assets. When they discovered that was no longer fashionable, the issue of Offa bank robbery was brought up. Why would anyone posits that the Senate President encouraged or induced some persons to commit robbery or to be member of thugs. Immediately our government came on board in 2003, the first set of executive bill we sent to the House of Assembly was on the issue of cultism and I remembered it was like a strict liability offence, the moment you are caught; it will be difficult for you to get out of it. It is ten years with N50,000 fine, and such money then was a whole lot of money and we enforced it to the latter and many people were convicted. Those boys that were interviewed by the police mentioned that the Senate president did not know that they were robbers, at the end of the day, …nothing is found, the case will die a natural dead…

(Cuts in)… but this law against cultism seems not to be functioning again going by the prevalence of cult activities in the recent times.

Honestly speaking, I believe we will secure conviction with the existing laws with the cooperation of the Ministry of Justice and with the help of the state judiciary, the issue will be resolved. Our state judiciary are not corrupt, they will enforce the law to ensure that justice is done .

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