President Muhammadu Buhari declared war on corruption in Nigeria but the anti-graft fight has been described by many Nigerians as selective and cumed at witch-hunting. In this interview with KAYODE ADEOTI, a veteran lawyer in Ilorin, Kwara State, Barr. Surajudeen Adekunle Bamidele speaks on the issue and many other germane matters. Excerpts:
Towards the fight against corruption in the country, few weeks ago, President Muhammadu Buhari, banned some Nigerians from travelling abroad, this issue has n continued to garner debates in the society, what is your take?
It was surprising, for President to come up with such decision all of a sudden. We all know the arms of government that we have, they all have different functions, one cannot overlap the other. The judiciary cannot play the role of the Executive nor the Legislative, however, for such decision to be effective; there is no how you can excuse the Judiciary from it. When movement is to be constrained, it is only the court that has that power. If there are corruption allegations against someone, it is only the court that can bar the fellow from doing certain things. We cannot assume that someone is guilty of an offence when court has not said so. In fact, at the end, court can exonerate the person the president has confirmed guilty. To me, it’s not constitutional. No one should hide under the position of his office to pass judgement. Let us all wait and see who is guilty before taking decision about their cases.
Do you also agree with the notion that the war against corruption of this administration doesn’t cut across…?
Yes, it doesn’t cut across; the war declared on corruption is targeted towards some set of people who are perceived enemies. If a politician discovers that he’s in a mess, he will just start romancing the incumbent government just to get a shield and to avert being investigated. In fact, the way the present day government is going about the issue of corruption is what I can describe as witch-hunting.
The way President Buhari is managing corruption cases involving the likes of Abdulrasheed Maina, Diezani Madueke, travel ban saga and many others have made some Nigerians to fault the legal advice of the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN to the presidency…?
I will not agree that he’s not competent. He is qualified to man the seat; he’s a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He knows what to do over issues, it is a pity people politicise things in Nigeria. The issue is not about incompetency, but about one taking to advice, he may advice the presidency but they might decide not to take to the advice, but the blame has always been coming back to the Attorney-General.
The recent attacks in some part of the country like Kaduna seems to be reawakening the demand for the state police, what is your position?
I support the establishment of state police. It will complement the effort of the Federal owned police. The fact that we have state police in a place like Kwara doesn’t mean the Federal police will not be working. The state police officers will be able to know better the nooks and crannies of the community where they operate. Some people are saying the institution will be hijacked, I disagree, to me, it will be very useful.
Recently, a man was arrested with human skulls, body parts in Ilorin, what do you think is aiding this practice in a city that is reference as the home of Islamic scholars?
Our leaders are not making sanity work in this our state; this is because they tamper with investigation. If some people have been brought to book over this illicit practice, it would have worked at least to a certain level. The issue of Offa Bank robbery, the suspects are still yet to be prosecuted. I will blame our leaders for this decadence. If the police can be upright, then while influencing their investigations?