Bayeshiea: Effective war on corruption is not treated with kids gloves



Olusola Bayesheia (SAN) is an Ilorin-based legal practitioner. He told Abiodun Fagbemi that an effective war on corruption should not be localised.

Is the government of President Muhammadu Buhari fighting corruption with flagrant disobedience to the rule of law?

I don’t want to agree with everybody on the issue of fighting corruption in Nigeria. I can be a lone ranger, I don’t mind. People have abused the rule of law for so long in this country, and as a result, castrated the efforts of carrying out true reformation. What people have forgotten is that while the rule of law remains a universal concept, effective war on corruption is not treated with kids gloves.

If, for instance, you look at the case of the former National Security Adviser in Nigeria (Ibrahim) Dasuki, currently in detention, all the Federal High courts he had so far approached on his matter had said no to his release. Even the Court of Appeal had also upheld the decision of the lower courts on the issue.

Besides, if we look at the case of Singapore, where the rule of law was suspended when the wars on corruption were at the peak, the country eventually succeeded in its quests waging effective wars on corrupt practices. I will recommend the same measure in Nigeria, but with a caveat that the rule of law be restored when there is an almost zero tolerance to corruption in the country.

Will your proposition not jeopardise the sanctity of judiciary, especially, the courts as the adjudicating body?

Rule of Law is not an abstract concept. I can’t, therefore, see anything extra ordinary in what is going on so far. For instance, why should somebody go to the Apex Bank and take money meant for the procurement of arms and ammunition when there is an external aggression against the nation? So, if the individual is being asked to account for the stolen money, what has the rule of law got o do with that? It doesn’t happen anywhere to close ones eyes to such an attitude in the name of rule of law.

Have you forgotten the number of Nigerian soldiers killed due to lack of equipment while defending the nation’s territory against Boko Haram insurgents?

Again, there was the case of another person a top military officer said to have used stolen money to install a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in his privately owned hospital when all our teaching hospitals in Nigeria are suffering from the dearth of equipment. So, we should also use human right for such a person to be making his undue profits at the expense of Nigerians? Human Rights or Rule of Law is not an abuse of Law and should never be treated as such.

Is the war being fought with the required international decorum?

Only those guilty of corruption would be evading prosecution by hiding under the guise of the rule of law. Members of the International Community, where about 90 per cent of the stolen money are stashed, are watching the nation in its efforts without a single of them accusing Buhari of any breach of Fundamental Human Rights, but are instead expressing their cooperation with him. There are countries in the world today that will treat anyone who steals a penny as if he has stolen millions, to serve as deterrence to others. But it is a pity that here in Nigeria our own usage of the rule of law is dubious. We should therefore, get to a level where should be bold enough to say that we are either fighting corruption or not. Is it not shameful to note that when we suppose to be up and doing in Nigeria; we are crawling on the ground? The rule of law should be seen as a concept that no one is above the law.

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