Barrister Kehinde Kolawole Eleja, SAN in this interview with our JUDICIAL CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI, on failure of the executive arm of government to adhere to court pronouncement, the security threat in the country among other issues. Excerpts:
Since this government came on board, there has been accusation that it fails to adhere to the tenet of the rule of law…?
We operate a constitutional democracy which entrenched the principles of separation of powers by which the executive power is vested in the executive arm of government, and the judicial power is vested in the judicial arm of the state; so, for there to be peace and orderliness, each arm of government must keep to the limit of its jurisdiction as stated by the constitution and there must also be mutual respect. Therefore, the executive must see itself as being bound by judicial pronouncement and that is the whole essence of democracy. For the president to shun orders of court, that portends great danger. No matter how convinced the president or the executive arm may feel about the guilt of a person, it is not within his or its domain to determine the guilt of anybody. Once judiciary has decided on any matter, everyone in the society must keep to it, anything contrary to this is anarchy, it portrays the country as unruly in the international community. There must be respect for orders of court and there is no justification for departing from it.
On the issue of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu whose sudden emergence since he was declared wanted seems to be posing some dangers to the security of the country…
(Cuts in…)This only shows that our security agencies have not been doing enough even from the onset of this matter, otherwise, they would have prevented lots of things as regards many of the videos released by the IPOB leader. Be that as it may, the security agencies should know the best thing to do if they’re convinced that he is posing threat to the peaceful co-existence of the country. There are international agencies whose assistance could be sought to bring him to justice, I think the government knows better on this issue.
What is your take on what some legal practitioners term as ‘drama’ revolving around the person of Senator Dino Melaye?
Honestly, I don’t know why he is declared wanted. I know so well that police laid siege to his house for some days and he attempted getting order of the court to address the issue but it was not successful. I don’t know what exactly is at the centre of the whole thing but as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, much is expected of him in terms of doing certain things, anyone occupying such office is not expected to act below certain standard. Refusing to submit himself was never good for the image of the institution he belongs to, the country and that of himself. And for the security who laid siege at the residence of a private person for more than 8 days, deploying more than two dozens of security personnel there at a time like this that we have acute security challenge in this country shows they’re overblowing the issue.
(Cut in…) Would you say the development has a political undertone?
Honestly, I’m not a politician, but of course, politicians will read meanings to it. We have security challenges all over the place, what is now the justification to lay siege on Dino’s apartment for 8 days with personnel that could have been deployed across the states to combat crimes?
What will you commend and condemn this administration for from the Federal down to states?
In terms of infrastructure, the government at the centre seems to be doing its bit, the Nigeria Railway, work has reached advanced stage at the international Airport, Nnamdi Azikwue and many more but beyond that, the government need to up its games in several other areas. In the area of security, one will discover now that the situation is not better than what it used to be. In terms of the economy, it will be an understatement to say it has deteriorated, unemployment uarguably is on the increase. For our power sector, I’ve not seen any improvement even in the war against corruption, there is so much hype now but in the real sense of it, can we say corruption has drastically reduced? The answer is no.