A lawyer, Mr. Benson Ndakara, has reacted to the report of the committee set up by the Federal Government on the need for a financial autonomy for the legislature and the judiciary. He described the move as a welcome development.He said it was now left for the different arms of government to judiciously manage their resources.
What is the direct impact of this autonomy on the judiciary?
I believe that it would get rid of delay in the payment of salaries and othersundry expenses by each arm of the government. Before now, many judicial officers who retired have not beenpaid their due.
The judiciary is one arm of government that should not be treated with levity. The professionalsare hope for the hopeless. Mind you, if the government starves them of fund,they might be compelled to look elsewhere to finance themselves, which wouldresult in corruption.
How do you see the administration of justice under this government?
Lookingat the administration of justice since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office; I will say that it has both the beautiful and ugly sides. But there have been seriesof disobedience to court orders, which calls for genuine concern.
We have discovered and it is clear that the government will choose which courtorder to obey and which not to. For example, several orders have been issued infavour of the former National Security Adviser to ex- President GoodluckJonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki, but they have not been obeyed. Thereare also some that were obeyed with promptness. Generally speaking, I think itis more of the interest of government. I hope that they will improve,especially in this new dispensation.
I want to believe that Buhari may not be directly involved in all thesedisobedience of court orders. I am sure his aides may be doing so without hisapproval.
One thing is to issue court order; another thing is to execute the order. The court that issued court order cannot be involved in the execution. So therefore, youwill have to also rely on the executive to execute the court order. And who is that policeman, army man or the bailiff to really soak the pressure; that iswhere the difficulty lies. When you hear that there is an order from above oncertain issues, will you say because there is a court order you will proceed.
Some judicial officers were accused of corrupt practices.. cuts in
This is a bad omen for the executive to be taunting Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), judges and other senior officers with corruption charges as well as sackingsome of them on mere allegations. It is an attempt to cage the judiciary.
It is very unfortunate when you can begin to arm-twist the judicial officers atwill and removing their independence from them and telling that he who pays the piper dictates the tune. I keep saying it that the solution to all thesenonsense is the amendment of section 292 of the constitution. As it is, ajudicial officer who seizes to be a judicial officer cannot practise law in Nigeria again. So, he or she has nothing to fall back to.
What is your take on the security situation in Nigeria?
It is obvious that there is a breach of security in the country. There is no partof Nigeria that is safe at the moment. I urge the government to involve the local vigilantes to assist in fishing out the criminals and making the society a safe place for all to live in. Also, making the police the sole bearers ofarms was dangerous to the nation. I am using this medium to call for community policing.
What is your assessment of President Buhari’s appointment of service chiefs and other aides?
I cannot but agree with many who are accusing President Buhari of nepotism inappointment especially on key positions that has to do with security matter.However, Nigerians are less worried about those things. What the people desireis good governance.
It is only when you make such appointments to suppress some sections of thecountry that there will be a problem. But if you appoint and the people aredoing their jobs without bias, nobody will complain. The president has theright to appoint whoever he thinks that can perform the job.