…Urges PMB to honour invitation by NASS
Tell us who Dikeogbogu is
My name is Chief (Barr) Mike Orjiakor, my business name is Dikeogbogu Law Chambers, our office is located at 18 Ofada Street, Mushin, Lagos State; we are Legal Practitioners and Consultants.
As a Lawyer are you satisfied with current legal system in Nigeria?
When you say legal system, the legal system cannot be isolated from the political system. So I cannot say that I am satisfied because of so many reasons. The delay in the court process, there is a lot of delays, somebody is charged to court or you file a civil proceeding in court, before you get judgement it takes a whole lot of time. In fact, the delay has made so many people to lose interest in legal practice. I can tell you that so many lawyers have left practice because of the delay in getting justice. You file a matter, before the matter is listed, especially in the appellate courts, the court of appeal, the Supreme Court majorly, though is also common High Courts.
I can’t say the legal system is okay because of the delay in handling cases by judges and the entire legal process. It is certainly cumbersome that you hardly get justice fast and quick.
Still on the legal system, it is difficult for the poor in this country to get justice, your take on that too
Yes one can say so because of the resources involved in one searching for his right, seeking for civil remedy, you have to go through a lot of things; you have to brief a lawyer. You can’t brief a lawyer without paying, even though we have those that do probono, free of charge but you still need to fuel their car before they come to court. So it involves a lot of money and it is not something easy for a poor person, if I may use that word, an indigent person may not be able to foot the bill to fight for his right in Nigeria today, it is very hard, because the resources are not there.
What do you think we can do to remedy this obvious anomaly?
Total overhaul of the legal system, and if you want to overhaul the legal system you must start with the political system, that is why I said initially that you cannot isolate the legal system from the political system, because if you look at the hierarchy of courts, the Supreme Court is the last court. When you look at the manner of appointments as enshrined in the constitution, you discover that it makes things cumbersome and difficult. In the Supreme Court, every appointment is made by the president after the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission.
So the only way to make the judiciary work, you must start from the political system, if you look, America is practicing federalism. You discover that every state in America has its own court of appeal even the Supreme Court. So in Nigeria we supposed to have something like that. Look at Lagos, as big as Lagos is, it has only one division of court of Appeal. I filed a case since 2011, from that 2011 till now we have not gotten judgement; the case has not been argued. How many years is it today? All these things are things that make the judicial system process not workable. There is need to change the political system so that the entire system will be overhauled.
There is the news that the government has resorted to borrowing from the contributory pension fund; that is there latest borrowing Home, does the government have legal and moral right to do that?
Well the issue of borrowing has become the baptismal name of this government. And I will say that it is like they are trying to exhaust all avenues, every nook and corner of borrowing, they now borrow without conscience. This is money that is meant for a particular purpose, pension fund, one of the government officials in the name of Maina defrauded government of 2billion, that case is still pending in court, they are employing all manners of style to evade justice. Now the same government that is prosecuting him is now dipping hand to borrow the fund meant for retirees, people’s sweat that have been invested, when they retire the money will be paid to them for them to recoup their lives.
The issue of constitutional power that you are asking, governments is next to God, if I may say so. And the pension fund you are talking about, that arrangement was instituted by the government, so if government wants to borrow money from a special fund government can do that, government can borrow money from consolidated fund, money set aside for particular project, so if government is borrowing from the fund I don’t think it is something condemnable, but the underlining factor should be that the fund being taken from that source should be properly utilized, properly channeled into social investment that will benefit the masses. Because the money is kept somewhere; sleeping money does not yield anything. So government being proactive in investing it properly, that is the area I will go, I will not say they have no power to borrow, when you talk about borrowing it is a contract, I don’t think they are borrowing it for free, it is a money set aside in a particular fund, government is not taken it without interest and I believe when they are paying it back there will also be interest in it. So I don’t see anything unconstitutional because it is like a contract.
What is your take on the clamour for President of Igbo extraction?
Well I want you to understand that we are running a presidential system of government, I also want you to understand that it is a democratic government, the issue of power rotation is a political party affair, it is not a constitutional thing in Nigeria. There is no part of Nigerian1999 Constitution where you would see that Igboman would rule this year, Hausa man would rule next year, and Yorubaman the other year, or it is south or north or west. There is nothing like that in the constitution. The issue of rotational presidency came up from either of the political parties it is political parties that nursed that idea.
For Igbo people to be talking of presidency, there is nothing wrong about that, but I say this is a democratic government, everybody has a right to vie for any political office he wants in Nigeria and for you to vie for any political office, you should understand the nature of this country, we are a diverse entity of different people, so any tribe has a right to vie for any political office it deems fit. It is not an exclusive right of any particular ethnic group.
If you have other things I didn’t capture in my questions, the floor is open
The other thing I want to say is that there is need for this nation called Nigeria to be restructured. And the only thing I see as major problem in this country is nothing but the political system of this country, if you go back, way back when Nigeria started, it started from Richards Constitution 1946; Macpherson Constitution of 1951; Littleton Constitution of 1954, then you get to 1963 Republican Constitution, if you look at this constitutions, they involved what you can call restructuring and the only way to make progress, if you compare the progress Nigeria made during this constitutional evolutions, you would see that the country was better off unlike now you say you are practicing federalism whereas in practice what you are practicing is unitary system of government.