In this interview with KAYODE ADEOTI, one-time Attorney-General of Kwara State and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Barr. Titus Olasupo Ashaolu speaks on President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to strictly adhere to constitution in his governance among other sundry issues. Excerpt:
What is your perception towards the President’s long mum on the fate of acting CJN, Walter Onnoghen ?
To me, it has never happened before; I don’t know why it is so now, even in the past, the Chief Justices of Nigeria (NJN) we’ve been having in the country, were not appointed in acting capacity; they pass their names to the appropriate quarter for confirmation. As soon as the valedictory service of the retiring CJN is done, another one will come in automatically, maybe the second day latest, he will be sworn in, unlike that of the state, they will be appointed for three months, afterwards, they have another three months to their confirmation, but what is playing out with the CJN beat everyone’s imagination because this is not in the practice of a democratic government. The government has created doubt, in fact, if people were not reading meaning to it before, they will start now because the past four CJNs are from the North, but Onnoghen comes from the South and you’re foot-dragging his appointment, people from the South will surely ask questions to show their displeasures over the development, assuming he was from the North, he would have been confirmed long ago, that is the situation.
Does the president have any blame in this delay and do you see constitution been followed strictly by this administration?
I don’t know why he’s foot-dragging the issue, I may say he has blame. When the NJC has recommended the most senior and most qualified among them, what else is the president looking for? This is the standard over the years, why he is holding back to send the name for confirmation is still a puzzle. Also, I must say constitution is not strictly followed by this government, look at the time they bursted on the privacy of some judges, attacking them in their homes, that shouldn’t have been the right approach, if you have anything against them, you should invite them up for questioning and if they are found guilty, the law will take its course, besides, there is a body that is responsible for checkmating any excesses in the judiciary. They should be encouraged to perform their duties diligently without interference. They went in the night, breaking doors, jumping fences, threatening people with guns in the middle of the night, that is not the right way to go by this, it is true they’ve been fighting corruption but it should be fought with human face
Recently, Prof. Isaa Saliu faulted the process of appointing the CJN in Nigeria, what is your take on this?
How does he decide that? I think the body that is assigned to appoint the judges has appointed Onnoghen. Well, that is his own opinion, and he can say his opinion is the best, he is a professor of law, if they’ve seen anything against him let them come up with it. Nigerians are not happy the way things are playing out and that is why some group want to launch protest just to express their minds.