Home Interview from the past Interview from the past: If I were IGP, I would have arrested Prof. Bath Nnaji-Fawehinmi
Interview from the past - April 14, 2024

Interview from the past: If I were IGP, I would have arrested Prof. Bath Nnaji-Fawehinmi

 

He is the heir apparent to the late legal icon, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) in all ramifications, no doubt. The late Senior Advocate of the Masses couldn’t have asked for a better successor in the late Mohammed Fawehinmi, who shares virtually all the sentiments expressed by his late father. He spoke on Monday, September 12, 2011, in Newsstar Newspaper, pages 32 and 34.

It’s about two years since your father died, how has it been with the family?

Well, the family has been doing fine, although we miss him; he was a great man. The man was very special and over time we have reminisced on the good times we had with him, and how he helped our lives despite the constraints he had all through his career. He made sure we had every opportunity and we were able to get things done, at least under his supervision to a certain extent.

His presence will always be missed; I think we will carry that feeling for the rest of our lives. He was a father in a million; he was a boss of outstanding proportions. He was a teacher of impeccable dynamics and he was a man who if I were to have the opportunity of choosing who my father would be in another life, I would still choose him.  A lot of people envy me because I am his son. And they would have wished he was also their father and they even adopted him as their father because he did more for some people than even their biological fathers. So that is why whenever I speak about him I will say I have so many brothers, biological, extended, adopted, and so on. He was a unique man. I wish he were alive so that he could see a bit of what we were able to do. At least I know he would have been proud to a certain extent that we have even tried, and if he were around, we would have done much better.

We remember him and we pray that for the good he did he will benefit in the spiritual realm unlike some people I can’t ever speak positively of till I die, someone like Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who is my arch enemy, is an enemy of this family. Let’s leave it at that.

Your dad was a social critic. Since he died, a lot has been happening; if he were around now what do you think would be going on in his mind looking at the situation in Nigeria, such as the issue of the President of the Court of Appeal, Ayo Salami, and the National Judicial Council, NJC?

On the issue of Salami, he would have instituted the action himself; he would not have waited for Salami because he was his very good friend. We all know who Salami is. He is an outstanding individual; he is a very upright man and he is a man who has had tremendous experience in the bar. If you look at his past judgments even before he became the Court of Appeal judge, you will appreciate the kind of person he is and you will know that he is the kind of person who will not take nonsense lying down.  That’s why you see everybody standing up for him. So if my dad was alive, Katsina Alu would have resigned a long time ago. He would have run with his tail between his two legs to go and hide somewhere because he would not have had the power to influence the NJC the way he had done. That suspension of Salami was a shameful and stupid decision. I think if the NJC wants to save its face it should reverse that decision with all due respect and the president should reverse that appointment which Katsina-Alu shamefully did on TV appointing Dalhatu Adamu as the President of the Court of Appeal when you know what the state of the law is.  Because you have a clash with someone, you are now using your veto power over him.  The judiciary is not run like that. You are given the position of the CJN as head of the NJC; you have attained the highest position, you are the head in terms of the judiciary, and the head of the apex court.  So you must show proper discretion, not using your influence to start changing panels. We know the crisis that happened in Sokoto state and this man out in a panel knows that these will speak the truth no matter what. He now said they should go and change it, the man said ‘no’, you now say you want to elevate him, he said ‘no’. You now said ‘OK’, I suspend him’. What kind of nonsense was that? you can see all the lawyers revolting, civil society people who are not even lawyers are revolting, and ASUU who are not lawyers, are rebelling.

So I mean, if the President has any appreciation for what his people are talking about and he wants to show that he is a true leader, then I will suggest to him that he reverse that decision with immediate effect because the first thing the president has done in the judiciary is to appoint Dalhatu Mustapha. That’s the first proper thing he has done in the judiciary. It does not show the making of the president; it does not even show that the President understands what he is doing and it does not even show that the Attorney–General is advising the president properly.

So if the president don’t not want to be the president to be known to have killed the judiciary, he had better reverse the decision. That’s the best option for the man. That’s the only option.

You are a lawyer and you were very close to your father. Looking at the scenario, do you think Justice Salami will get justice within the judiciary system?

He has submitted himself to the justice system, let’s wait and see, it will tell us the caliber of judges we have there, who are going to sit over. That’s my view. But if the president wants to show that he is the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and he swore to the fifth oath under the seventh schedule and he is ready to abide by every dictate of that contractual oath, then he knows what to do.

If you look at events in the past few days, virtually all the election panels set up by Justice Salami have been reconstituted. Don’t you think that the action appears to lend credence to the suggestion in some quarters that the suspension was politically motivated?

It is indicative, it is political. Every election is political.  What do you do elections for? To elect political officers, from the president to governors to senators to members of the House Representatives and the state House of Assembly as well as even local government chairmen. Of course, it’s political; we don’t need to kid ourselves. You can’t divorce election from politics, if we are to look at what section 222(9) said, the criteria given there, once you can fulfill those aspects of the constitution, then you can form a political party and once that party is formed it has to be registered. Those are constitutional provisions. So there is no way you can divorce the two.

No, what I am saying is that the suspension has been said to be political.

I understand your question perfectly. Yes, he’s a new man there now; change it. It is like telling them, “Look, there is the decision you are to give’. The reconstitution shows that these are the boys I can use for this job and those are the making of the new Dalhatu. That man definitively will take instructions from Katsina Alu dead or alive. So definitively the re-constitution of all the panels shows that all that Salami put in place were being dissolved and the decisions we see that Salami will give because Salami is like a straight arrow, he will say it as he sees, we don’t want those things, it can’t favour us, change it and that’s what they are doing, which is wrong because you see them putting back Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) people who did not win.

So it is very clear but let’s see what the outcome will be and then we will know what next step we will take.

The fight against corruption, are we getting there?

Getting where? IBB that stole 12.4bn dollars, where is our money? Did Pius Okigbo lie? Okigbo wrote in his report that we made such an amount in oil windfall as far back as 1990, 1991, and 1992 during the first Gulf War, where is it? That was where you started the fight against corruption.  IBB owns Equatorial Trust Bank and Glo, this Glo you are seeing. So who is fooling whom? Where will Mike Adenuga have to get money to set up Glo? What was his financial background? Where did he get money from? He’s IBB’s boy now. So, let’s not fool ourselves. When you start with someone like IBB, then go on to Obasanjo. Where did he get money to set up Bells University? Where did he get money to set up Ota Farms? Then we know we are getting somewhere. Subsequently, you can start picking up the small ones. Those are the two chief rogues in this country. Also, the Presidential Library; where did he get the N7bn to start it? When Obasanjo came out of prison he was practically broke, the farms were dead, so where did he get the Money?  You enrich yourself while in government. So that’s where the fight against corruption should start before you now start picking people like (James) Ibori who came afterward.

So let’s not fool ourselves, which fight against corruption? Who is going to spearhead the fight? Waziri? A girl who can’t answer section 16 of the EFCC ACT to trace to us who is funding Boko Haram? Is that the person? Someone who stood surety for George Akume, former governor of Benue State. Is that where the fight against corruption is going to start? Is it by Bringing (Ellen Johnson) Sirleaf from Liberia to appear on television with the attorney–general sitting there? Is that the way they will fight Corruption? Do we not know who the thieves in our society are?  You know who they are now but you can’t touch them; so what are you talking about?

So what do you think is the solution?

The first solution starts with Mr. President and that is ensuring that corruption stops. He must allow the EFCC to function, and allow the National Assembly to appoint the EFCC chairman. He should not come from the President, he who pays the piper dictates the tune. With all the good that MALLAM Nuhu0 Ribadu did people are saying he was Obasanjo’s dog and so ‘catch am catch am’. Up until now, no other EFCC chairman has been able to do what Ribadu did.

All the Attorney–General is doing to ensure that The EFCC comes under him. A representative of the Ministry of Justice is represented on the board of EFCC, so the National Assembly should make a law now. Let the president even write, was it not he that proposed a six-year single term? Let him now propose that the EFCC chairman should be appointed by the National Assembly on recommendation and let it be independent self-funding, just like all the FBI and CIA in America. That is when we get somewhere, and please chase away this woman who is just making up, tying face, and trying to do rubbish. You don’t tackle corruption like that; you tackle corruption head-on, you tackle corruption as if it is HIV. You kill it because if you don’t kill it, the society will not grow. Let me give you another example of corruption. Our dear Professor Barth Nnaji, the Minister of Power is telling us we need 10 billion dollars every year, and if we give him that money, he will give us five thousand megawatts. That kind of money if I were the Inspector General of Police, I would have arrested him to show that kind of thing its clean cut stealing. Tell me, if we did not have any water, assuming this place was a desert and we did have sun and any coal or gas, how much would we then spend not talking of when we have all these things?

So that man there is a very big thief. You are asking for 10bn dollars for every year. Such an amount of money will light up the whole of West Africa. Then the woman they put in petroleum, that one, too, with noise the press made about that woman. First of all, when I started spotting her criminal antecedents, she was the former Minister for Transport, she went to Ore, where the road was spoilt (demonstrated how she cried). She did not fix a single road, ah they said she’s an emotional woman, oh no, this woman is very caring. Madam, we are waiting o, people are still dying on the road, and cars are still involved in accidents. They said  ‘Oh she has done enough, the policy she put there, Ah the policy is too much, she has finished work there’. Now they gave her petroleum and kerosene started getting scarce, oil that we have in abundance in our country that we can easily distill to bring our kerosene. Imagine people now queuing up to get kerosene; those who have it will now triple the price and you who need it buy, that’s one side.

The pollution that is happening in the Niger Delta, whose job is it to clean it? She is the one at the helm of affairs, she is the one most of the companies will come and sign with. ‘Oh, I know the minister; we schooled together in America; and all that, they will all come there. Shell did sign one, Mobil signed another one, and Chevron signed the third one. Nobody has decided to clean up Ogoinland and all those places, but the woman is sitting pretty. Another insult is that this woman is diverting all the contracts into her husband’s company. The press made you soft–sell, hard–sell, the senate president did not deem it fit to ask her. All our dear General David Mark could tell her is ‘You are facing too much backlash from the press and she says’ Mr. Senate President don’t mind them; just tell us what you want to tell us, you know we are all PDP, we will approve you ‘. The woman said some nonsense, and the senate president said, all in favour say aye and no nay! They approved and swore her in as the Minister of Petroleum.

So President Goodluck himself is corrupt. The other day they launched a satellite in Russia, he says happily gesticulating. Assuming that satellite had nose-dived back into Nigeria and exploded, I don’t think those people celebrating would have been celebrating. And then they now give you a story. Just like our dear sweet General Patrick Azazi. ‘Oh, we are much unprepared; you know we do not have so much equipment in this country, everything is based on technology ‘. Go to Azazi’s house and his girlfriend’s house, you will find a massive Screen TV; that’s the purchase of technology. Check his mobile phone, it’s the most hi-tech, his own, his wife’s own, his children’s own, his girlfriend’s. The cars he uses, are the best quality, if possible bulletproof because he is the National Security Adviser.

 

 

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