‘It is the law that INEC must be joined in po­lit­i­cal cases’

Daily Trust - - INTERVIEW - By Ade­lanwa Bamg­boye

here is a Federal High Court de­ci­sion which gave Fresh Party judg­ment over it’s de-reg­is­tra­tion and Fresh Party is now say­ing that INEC is de­lib­er­ately go­ing against that judg­ment.

When there is a judg­ment against a party and the party now ap­peals and chal­lenges that judg­ment, the judg­ment does not au­to­mat­i­cally be­come en­force­able. The le­gal process should be al­lowed to take its course be­cause INEC has chal­lenged the judg­ment; we are in the Court of Ap­peal.

How pre­pared is INEC for the le­gal bat­tle that would come be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the 2015 gen­eral elec­tions?

At the mo­ment INEC is con­duct­ing train­ing for its le­gal of­fi­cers. INEC has re­cruited additional le­gal of­fi­cers prepara­tory to the 2015 elec­tions. So ev­ery state now has a min­i­mum of two le­gal of­fi­cers. The prob­lem in INEC are not cases that af­fect INEC it­self, they are cases that af­fect po­lit­i­cal par­ties that rub on INEC. The cases are not strictly INEC re­lated cases but po­lit­i­cal par­ties re­lated cases which INEC must be joined. If you look at po­lit­i­cal par­ties, if INEC con­ducted the best elec­tions and once some­body is not sat­is­fied, that party goes to court and it is the law that INEC must be joined, so we are do­ing our best within the limited re­sources of the com­mis­sion. FG can­not fund ev­ery case so we do our best, the ones we can han­dle we han­dle and the oth­ers we farm out but it is a very her­culean task.

What in your opin­ion is the ideal re­tire­ment age for judges, most of our judges af­ter their re­tire­ment are still given one na­tional as­sign­ment or an­other, would you sug­gest that the re­tire­ment age be ex­tended?

You will have to look at this ques­tion from the per­spec­tive whether at the time the per­son

Ibrahim Bawa is the Act­ing Di­rec­tor Le­gal Ser­vices, In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (INEC). In this in­ter­view, he speaks on INEC’s pre­pared­ness for the 2015 pos­si­ble court cases against the com­mis­sion, death penalty and other top­i­cal is­sues.

re­tired; he is still use­ful to the so­ci­ety or whether the so­ci­ety can still gain from his wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence. That is an area where con­sid­er­a­tion should be given con­sid­er­ing that not all per­sons who re­tire at that age can con­trib­ute mean­ing­fully to na­tional de­vel­op­ment. In fact a lot of points of law are re­ferred back to them be­cause of their wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence. I be­lieve that if judges are made to re­tire at the age of 70, they would still

on this or would you call for the abo­li­tion of the award of SAN?

Ev­ery pro­fes­sion has its rules and reg­u­la­tions and for you to be SAN, your cre­den­tials as a per­son must be looked atHow trust­wor­thy are you? Will Nige­ri­ans trust you? Should ev­ery per­son trust you be­cause you have han­dled the re­quired num­ber of cases with­out due con­sid­er­a­tions for your con­duct?

For you to reach that high­est pro­fes­sion is reg­u­lated so there is a guide­line for the award of SAN which was drawn up by the priv­i­leges com­mit­tee. So who­ever tells you that he is not cer­tain is prob­a­bly be­cause he has not read the guide­lines. So there are guide­lines such as we have in ev­ery as­pect of life and if people want it they must meet the cri­te­ria.

So it is not pos­si­ble that ev­ery­body must be a se­nior, so also in life we can­not all be rich, some must be poor be­cause that is the rule of na­ture. The con­fer­ment of the rank of SAN is a priv­i­lege which is con­ferred on per­son who ought to be there. Apart from look­ing at the cases they do, they also con­sider in­tegrity in the prac­tice of law.

Some people are ad­vo­cat­ing that law should be read as a sec­ond de­gree course, do you sup­port this?

It is the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion in Nigeria gen­er­ally. Does the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion in Nigeria make you the best lawyer be­cause you have read one dis­ci­pline, does it make you the best lawyer be­cause you have ac­quired de­gree in some other field? and what is the Le­gal Coun­cil do­ing to en­sure that we get those things we need in a lawyer. Ev­ery per­son that is ad­mit­ted to read law ac­tu­ally has those qual­i­ties that will make him to be a lawyer. The most bril­liant lawyer must not nec­es­sar­ily be some­body that has al­ready got a de­gree in any other field. He could have passed out with the high­est de­gree else­where but he may not nec­es­sar­ily be a good lawyer. They have to do with hu­man qual­i­ties, so it’s not an an­swer that you say one plus one is equals to two.

Should the min­i­mum wage for ju­nior lawyers be legislated?

It’s a busi­ness and in busi­ness you can­not say this is how much you pay. In my of­fice I can af­ford to pay N100, 000 for in­stance but in other of­fices they may not. So we are look­ing gen­er­ally at the prob­lem of un­em­ploy­ment in the coun­try which also rubs on the le­gal pro­fes­sion.

I am ready to em­ploy five lawyers in my of­fice and I now look at what is the in­come into that cham­ber, so it is pos­si­ble you do a reg­u­la­tion and end up throw­ing people into the un­em­ploy­ment mar­ket. So you have not solved the prob­lem but rather you have cre­ated more prob­lems. You are cre­at­ing a monster that you can­not curb, so that is the prob­lem.

It is or­di­nar­ily not pos­si­ble to say that you leg­is­late min­i­mum wage for ev­ery pri­vate sec­tor. So why should you leg­is­late min­i­mum wage for the le­gal pro­fes­sion.

Should the death penalty be abol­ished?

I do not be­lieve that death penalty should be abol­ished. When you take some­body’s life it does not pay for the so­ci­ety to com­pen­sate you by keep­ing you alive. You have de­lib­er­ately de­cided to kill some­body, why must you live. You should also let him go. Look at the rate of crime in the so­ci­ety even when we still pun­ish people with death penalty, I do not sub­scribe to the abo­li­tion of death penalty.

Barr. Ibrahim Bawa

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