The chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, Offa branch, Kwara State, Chief Olusegun Olawoyin speaks with KAYODE ADEOTI on the recently enacted compulsory education policy in the country among other sundry issues in the legal system.
Going by the plan of NBA to apprehend the lawyers aiding fake practices in the state, we want to know how far the association has succeeded in this stride.
This is in relation to a lawyer that was arrested and arraigned recently in Ilorin. I don’t think there is any serious lawyer that could be aiding somebody holding fate certificates, a serious lawyer knows the implication of this, and so aiding him to commit an offense is something grievous. A lawyer might only be protecting him for not knowing the kind of person he is. No association will be happy with their members or non-members practising with fake certificate, it’s a great offence and anyone implicated will be dealt with. We just came back from NEC meeting in Abba. NBA is strongly against such practise. The association is a prestigious one. The very man in question who perpetrated the act, he’s still in prison because the court is not true with his case. This shows the level at which NBA can go to clean itself of any mess, also those whose ways are not straight could learn lesson from the life of the fake lawyer.
Being the chairman of the NBA, Offa branch, what do you consider as hindrance to the progress of the system in your area?
Basically, the hindrance is the people’s attitude towards the association; some members don’t really like to belong to the association or to fulfil any obligation that is attached to it. They just want to be on their own and be enjoying whatever fortune brings. They are not ready to give to the profession. Payment of practising fees has always been a problem. A lot of people want to practise without paying the fee, and the payment is one thing the association do not joke with. Also, members of the association should be able to pay as at when due. These are some of what we use to carry on with the activities of the bar. That is the major hindrance.
What is your take on the recent judgement that declares free basic education an enforceable right from primary to junior secondary school levels.
From where we are coming from, I don’t think Nigeria is ripe enough for that, the attitude of those who implemented it is not clear. They first said they will be giving free break-fast; they’ve not being able to fulfil that, so how could the free education be possible. I think the first thing to do is to make the infrastructure available. If the facilities are there, the parents will not hesitate to send their wards to school even to pay for the school fees as well. But to this end, there are no facilities that will ensure good learning in our schools. Pipe-born water, electricity and quality road, these should be paramount in the heart of government because this is what we need now.
What is your take on the issue of court of equal jurisdiction giving conflicting judgement?
The facts are not the same, considering the case of PDP in Ondo, the first judgement was who is to present the candidate between the warring factional chairmen of the party at the national level and Supreme Court ruled that the candidate presented by Markafi led-caretaker group should be allowed to contest in the poll, but on the other hand, the case of their convention. It was not the Ondo court that ruled but Port-hicourt based court on the facts that is on ground. It is the facts presented before the court that dictates the tune of the judgement, so things can not follow suit in the case of the law.
What is your take on the argument that it is legal to break into another man’s house in search of incriminating facts?
How can you break into another person’s house? It is completely wrong. The security agency that raided judges’ apartments in Port-Hicourt, did that on the order of some people at higher quarters. Those things they claimed to have gotten in the house of the judges raided then were not presented for all to see, even the cash, in the case of justice Ademola, we’ve filed no case submission, the perversion which they want to create, they’ve succeeded in it. We must now seat down and deduce from the whole scenario what they wanted us to note.
If you have the opportunity to be CJN, what are those things you will first fight for?
The first thing I will do is to fight for the independence of the judiciary, because the institution doesn’t have financial dependency. The salaries of judges are being delayed because the government believed they are not on their side. Auditor general must always post their money directly. Also the appointment of judges must be on merit as it used to be in the 60s and 70s, though I’m not faulting the appointment of Onnoghen as the CJN. The long delay experienced in the processing of his name to the senate is political. That one is the fault of the presidency.