Barrister Sulyman Abaya is a renowned legal icon in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital. In this interview with our JUDICIARY CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI, he speaks on the Federal Government autonomy for the judiciary, the allegation of vote buying politicians and other germane issues. Excerpts:
Judiciary autonomy, what is the update?
Announcement of the judgment on judiciary autonomy makes it a directive that all the head of courts in each states, including the Federal Capital Territory be autonomous. But that order or directive has been a statement on paper. The action to me, if taken to a logical end is beautiful, what government did was to reinstates the position of law, because what was on ground before was an aberration. The constitution has provided the provision of funds for the judiciary and the chief executive is the implementor of this law and it can only do that through budget. The Federal High Court has pronounced that the funding of the judiciary be disbursed to its heads through National Judicial Council. Since the pronouncement, there has been no appeal to it but I think the court will now have to direct again the immediate effect of it.
On the issue of forged NYSC discharged certificate by the former minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, some political groups have posited that President Buhari shouldn’t have accepted the Minister’s resignation but directed her to wear the scheme uniform…?
The whole scenorio will bore down to the integrity and trustworthiness of the President of Nigeria, this is because, he is solely the appointer of ministers. He takes responsibility and the Federal Executive Council. An administration whose mantra, right before election period has been, ‘fight against corruption’ especially for the president whose body language detest either practical or abstract corruption. Also, in his inaugural speech, we should remember that he said he is a president for nobody but for everybody. It is expected that the Finance Ministry, being the mainstream of the country’s economy, proper screenings must have been carried out in the first place to discover the irregularities, particularly on the issue that borders on the legality of the minister that will man the sector. The basic thing which should be a considering factor is that, the head of that sector must have certain level of certificate. The National Youth Service Corp Act 2004 has prescribed that once one’s age exceeds 30 years, one must seek NYSC exception letter. The ex-minister herself had confessed that she only came to Nigeria after 34 years of age. However, the president and the screening security agencies failed for not doing what is necessary at the appropriate time. Having known that, the President has also displayed lackadaisical attitude for not ordering the removal of Adeosun immediately after the allegation of forgery against her was established. The resignation by the minister has really proved that the certificate was forged. For country that wants to pride itself as impeccable and corruption fighter, it should have borrowed a leaf from other saner country like America where the former Attorney General of the country under the administration of President Obama resigned immediately the new government came into office on the account that the campaign funds that ushered in his government was not in line with the law. Incontrovertibly, his resignation came at a time when the issue was becoming an embarrassment. Our government must ensure at all times that its transformation agenda and fight against corruption is entrenched on any form of corruption allegation immediately it is discovered. Government can also further its investigation exercise by setting up an enquiry Commission that will include some security agencies. However, the NYSC Director General or his designated officer that signed that certificate, wherever they are, should be brought to face the consequences of their misdeeds.
There have been allegations of vote buying, ballot snatching and the likes among politicians of different political parties in the last gubernatorial election in Ekiti State and in the just concluded Osun State’s poll. Will you advocate promulgation of certain laws as a way of curbing such menace in the forthcoming 2019 general elections?
Law is just a written guideline for conduct of men, the real guideline is our mind. As it is, the APC government which prided itself as forerunner in anti-corruption crusade has been allegedly fingered as complicit in this matter, this really cast doubt on the integrity of the APC-led government. The police and many other security agencies of the APC have come out to say there has been vote buying. What is expected of the APC government is to play the game of politics by the rule they set which doesn’t allow irregularities like vote buying. Whichever way one looks at it, the first culprit is APC government. By all standard, this government should be the sanest, going by its campaign promises and the man at the helm of affairs of the government. Come 2019, the albatross of the election will be INEC, because the discretion to cancel those votes or elections where such illegality like vote buying are discovered will rest on the INEC, lots of elections may however be declared inconclusive because the signal is very clear, I expect that the head of INEC not to wittily or unwillingly pander to any side of the two major political parties in the country who are likely to slug it out in a big battle in the general election come 2019. The major success of 2019 will lie with the electoral body. Come 2019, the issue of canceling of vote, inconclusive election will be major issues that will trend the year and that will be contested in the court of law.