Yusuf Olaolu Ali, (SAN) is a renowned lawyer who has carved a forte for himself in the country in Law practice. In this interview with KAYODE ADEOTI, he speaks on the position of law in Magu’s case among other sundry issues.
Court nullified the constitution of NBA and sacked its President, how do you see this affecting the bar?
As far as I’m concerned, the judgement was only limited to the issue of amendment of the constitution of the NBA, the present national executives of the NBA was not a party, it was the BoT that was sued and the law is clear that the court will not make a binding order against a non party, to me, I did not see the judgement as even removing anybody, although I am aware there is an appeal.
How do you see the drama between the Senate and the Presidency playing out on the issue of Magu as the boss of EFCC?
With respect to those who are quoting section 171 of the constitution, that section is not exhaustive, it doesn’t say that the national assembly cannot make a law that some offices which the president will create will have to go through Senate confirmation. The section doesn’t foreclose creation of other offices that will need Senate confirmation. What is the essence of confirmation? If the President submit the name of ministers and the Governor submit names of commissioners and some of the nominees were not cleared by either the Senate or House of Assembly, can they now go ahead to appoint the person as acting minister or acting commissioner, would that not be unconstitutional? Before Magu’s name was submitted, there was no issue but having been rejected by the Senate, in my own view, that put a stay to that appointment, all these other arguments the issue has generated, they are based on sentiment, you don’t need to be a lawyer before you can understand this. If President cannot go ahead to endorse the candidature of an ambassador after being rejected, then it can’t too on the issue of Magu, it is the same logic. I think the President needs to be better advised because they are setting precedence and everything is all about law and constitution. They must look at the future not today. That is my position.
How do you perceive our anti-graft agencies in the fight against corruption?
What I have always been saying is that, there is no war against corruption going on. What we have is, a few suspected corrupt people being prosecuted again. When you talk about war against corruption, it is not about arresting some few people, as we talk, civil servants still do what they do, public officers are still doing that which they do, security agencies still indulge in their old lives because there are still road blocks where people pay money, is that not corruption, or is nepotism not one? Corruption is still being fought on the basis of tribe, religion and the likes. Fighting war against corruption has to be holistic; it must be a war that will touch every facet of life, because every aspect of our life is encumbered by corruption. The average Nigerian doesn’t understand that corruption is bad. To me, we must do something that will redeem our moral values. I am not saying the government is not trying, it has shown its disdain for corruption but fighting it is more than just showing your displeasure over a thing. All serious anti corruption agencies in the world, don’t fight their war on the pages of newspaper or television, it is when they’ve done something concrete that the world will know, we are also suppose to be discreet, proper investigation is the foundation of any successful prosecution. We have the investigation, prosecution and the court, once the first stage is not well tackled there is no way you are going to succeed and I have said this often, court of law act on law and facts not sentiment. So this media trial has to stop.
Many well meaning Nigerians have asked questions over the health status of the President, what is the position of the law concerning his health?
What the constitution talks about is incapacity and it has not gotten to that, everything about his health has been in the realm of speculation. Nobody has said he is incapacitated and what the constitution says in ‘incapacity to act’
There seems to be cultism activities in the state again, in what way do you think the law can help to address this?
Let everybody take care of their homes, all those who get involve in cultism are children of some people, parents should I’ve by examples and they should insist that their children live well too
What do you want to make out of the whistleblowing instituted by the government?
It should be encouraged, you can’t fight crime if you don’t have informants, gadgets cannot fight the war. Even in advanced countries where we have the CCTV that capture those who commit crime, it is the human being who will identify anyone captured. And it is never done for free anywhere in the world.