In this interview with KAYODE ADEOTI, the principal counsel of Olaitan Shaa’fi and associate as well as a renowned litigant in Kwara state, Barrister Olaitan Taiwo Nureni speaks on the need for our lawmakers to strengthen peace among other germane issues. Excerpt:
We have the bar and the bench, which one should be blamed for the increase in the corrupt practices in the profession?
Both are interwoven, we have in the recent times where lawyers are been used as the condit pipe of corruption, it is quite unfortunate where we find ourselves. The situation that permits all manners of things has affected the bar and bench, none of them can be said to be free of the allegation, but that doesn’t mean we there are no good ones. But to inform you, we have enough law in Nigeria to guard the institution, but sad again, over the year, the institution has been bastardised, federal government is trying to strengthen it with the use of ICPC, DSS even Nigeria Police. The institution has become so weak in the hands of the politicians. The bar has its own machinery of disciplining erring members, but when you pour water on the body, it has to be from the head, this implies that we have to look at regenerating it from the top, people holding executive office like NBA should be made to lay good examples for members to follow. This will help in ensuring the system work in a manner it should be. I can tell you categorically that it is hard for judge to collect bribe without the connivance of the counsel on the other side. The client paid to the lawyer and money for bribery will come from the client, so there is no way client will bribe judge without using lawyers’ ladder. We should stop paying lips service to corruption, if we want to tackle it head-long, we will succeed.
On the issue of the NBA, Federal High Court declared void it 2015 constitution and sack it president, what is your take on that?
The politics of NBA, I don’t want to dwell on it because we have not seen the end of it, also, it is an area I don’t want to tread, there are so much politics going on there. For now, I will prefer to reserve my comment.
On the recent development between the Senate and Prof. Sagay over his refusal to appear before Senate, and looking at a prominent lawyer’s argument that posited that 1999 constitution empowers them to summon anybody, are you in compliance with that?
The beautiful thing about democracy is that it gives everybody freedom to speak, irrespective of whoever you are, nobody can take you up for that, on the issue of Sagay, with due respect to lawyer that support the Senate on their summon bid, I want to disagree. Yes they can summon for purpose of investigation and when they want to interrogate, it should be limited to issues they want to legislate upon, issue that relate to corrupt, and it must be for the purpose of strengthening law. Whatever investigation they summon anyone for must be within the realm of making law, Prof. Sagay is not just a constitutional lawyer; a lawyer of twenty to twenty-five years in practise must have read prof. Sagay constitutional law. He is not just anybody, but a professor of constitution, he knows what he is saying. Also, our lawmakers knows what they are striving at, we have people there who are representing our interest, my position is that, the two parties should have looked for better ground to agree on terms for the purpose of peace and progress. Look at sect. 88 of the 1999 const. as amended. It provides power to conduct investigation and that is exactly the section he referred to. 88 provide the power for the Senate to conduct investigation. It further posited that the investigation could only be directed to any matter or thing with a view to make law…power is conferred on the National Assembly for the purposes to; expose corruption, inefficiency, or waste.
…(Cut in) would you say the summon of the Customs Controller-General is equally wrong?
Col. Hameed Ali is the head of the agency, they have power to summon him. They summoned him and they refused to discuss the purpose he was summoned for, and that was when the issue of uniform came up. It is quite unfortunate; the issue is a trivia one.