Chief Joseph Kyari Gadzama is, no doubt, a leading light in Nigeria’s judiciary. In this interview wth KUNLE OLASANMI, he shares his views on some of the burning issues in the country.
Executive, NASS members’ rift
I want to believe that it is a matter or an issue on which they can close ranks because democracy is about dialogue. Democracy is about talking and being two of the three arms of government, we need them to have synergy and collaborate with one another because that is the only time or situation, where you and I and all other Nigerians can enjoy all the benefits of democracy, which we are entitled to. We have seen this type of threats in the past and after some time, it is over. So, I want to call on both sides to come together and resolve the issue amicably. The presidency has agreed to speed up in terms of implementation, but the National Assembly appears to have come out with a figure that only a certain percentage of implementation has been done, whether that is correct or not, I am not in a position to asses that. The bottomline is that everybody should work hard for the good of Nigerians they have been elected to serve. The Presidency must comply with the law and implement the budget. The National Assembly is expected to look into the activities of the executive because it is all about checks and balances. To me, it is a healthy situation because that is how everybody can be on his/her toes. So, it is not out of place for the National Assembly to complain on behalf of other Nigerians. After all, we elected them there. They must also understand that nowhere in the world that you can have hundred percent implementation of the budget and there must be a justification for not implementing the budget fully. There are also provisions for what is to be done in a situation where you have not been able to implement the budget fully. They should know that there cannot be deliberate attempt not to implement the budget fully. I may not be having the details of why the budget is not being implemented at my fingertips, but I am sure the executive will have their reasons.
Impeachment is not the only way out
Impeachment to my mind can be likened to corporal punishment. You know I use to be a teacher before I became a lawyer, though at a very low level. Corporal punishment is always the last type of punishment and it is the last resort and it is not often utilize because of the obvious disadvantages. When you impeach somebody, the person seizes to be in that office and you don’t know who comes in. They often say that the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know. I want to believe that effort should be made towards performance at all levels of government. Performance by all elected, appointed officers of government and I think that is the bottom line. There should be a balance somehow.
Indictment on our judiciary
The judgement of a United Kingdom court which ordered former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank to refund billions of naira to the bank is to an extent an indictment on our judiciary. That is a reminiscence of the Ibori case. Ibori was able to avoid prosecution in Nigeria and fled to Dubai. He was arrested and compulsory taken to the UK. He was prosecuted, convicted and now serving a jail sentence. Probably in Nigeria, that wouldn’t have happened. There are many Iboris’ in Nigerian and they appeared to be sacred cows. So, when can there be that change in this country? We need courageous leaders. We need people who cherish this country, who want to lead by example and we have them and this are the people that should be in position of power to ensure that the rule of law is complied with, show good example and avoid corruption in all ramifications. The person must ensure that when somebody commits an offence, the person is arrested and prosecuted. But again, we must understand that we have a system of law in this country which must be respected. If you have a judgement of a court, it must be respected. Whichever way the judgement goes, the sanctity of the judgement must be accepted.
Filed Under: Judiciary