Justice For Sale?

By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN

Increasingly but alarmingly, it is gaining ground that Nigerians now believe that justice is for sale. This position seems to be gaining ground increasingly. Is it possible to buy justice? Is it true that some politicians have all manners of mobile injunctions already typed and prepared, stocked in their portfolios and they just bring them out to suit any occasion?

Can it be true that there are some judges who have been earmarked for such jobs as issuing out any order, injunction or judgment? Can it ever be said that parties before a court of law can know their fate even before the case starts?

I am worried and worried. Not long ago, Chief Robert Clarke, SAN, warned about the dangerous dimensions of the influence of politics on justice administration generally. ‘So, one disadvantage in Nigeria today, which we have to look into, is how to curb the excesses of these politicians.

They have ruined the judiciary. I feel sorry for them’, says Chief Clarke. I have also heard speculatively, that hardly is there any judgment from any election tribunal that is not a product of ‘transactions’.

My personal view is that most judges are incorrigible, above board and they decide cases according to law and their conscience, but the things that I hear are very troubling. They are spoken in hushed tones amongst the senior lawyers, they are posted with style on restricted WhatsApp platforms and they are ripe with the clients themselves.

The question then is this: what is Transactional Justice? It is one in which the decision of the court on a case pending before it is procured or influenced by extraneous considerations other than the merit of the case.

Such influence can be financial, tribal, religious or even social. At times it can be relational, such as when family members of a judge are recruited to put pressure on him to bend the scale of justice. The sphere is almost endless.

In Transactional Justice, there are lawyers involved as couriers of monetary offers to judicial officers and it is prevalent mostly in election petition cases. The politicians have become so desperate that they will do just anything to cling on to power, by all means necessary.

The ugly side of this is that once it is possible to influence a judge in a particular judicial transaction, then the door is open permanently for other subsequent influences, as for instance once you are able to sway a judge to tilt the even scale of justice in an election petition, then that judge becomes a permanent customer even in other regular cases, whenever the need arises.

This is how it goes. The litigant hires the very best lawyers in the field of his case, pays them well to handle all legal issues in the open court and then turn around to hire other lawyers or individuals in the background, purely for networking.

These latter set of people have no business in the preparation of the case on the merit, they are not involved in the settlement of pleadings or briefs of arguments and they care less about the knowledge and erudition of counsel on record, but to work to secure victory for the paying litigant at all cost. They know the text of the judgment well ahead of time.

There are other aspects of Transactional Justice, I’m told. Some lawyers have perfected the style of always getting their cases assigned to a particular judge and God save you if you have to appear against them in any case, because you are doomed to always lose any point of law, no matter how brilliant you are and even if that point of law has been settled up to the Supreme Court.

I don’t know how this works but it is said to be very common, especially amongst a few senior lawyers. It will surely take the connivance of court officials and the judge himself for this to happen, because once a judge has noticed the trend that a particular counsel is always appearing before him, almost on a daily basis, then that should raise the flag, if there is no collusion.

Then there are the professional litigants, who have no personal court cases of their own but have been recruited to help monitor the progress of some cases and to help secure victory ultimately. You see them in the courtroom, sitting prominently, for the judge’s attention and recognition. The court registrars know them, to always reserve vintage positions for them in the courtroom.

In some very bizarre cases, they exude such irritating arrogance as to even sit by the entrance of the judge’s chambers, on each day that the cases come up, so that even the opponent would feel the pressure of the unofficial lobby. These ones are in the categories of family members, classmates, religious associates, social partners, either in the club or in the cult. The other side of this is that it gets so bad that even the registrars of the judges at times do complain openly.

How does it sound that judgment is no longer based on law or precedents? That law has become totally unpredictable, even for the same set of facts? We are unable to properly advise clients who approach us for legal counsel, as we now have different decisions, even of the Supreme Court, in the same set of facts and circumstances. Whereas this can be due to human error precipitated by the workload of judicial officers based on the volume of cases that they handle daily, it is also said that it can be the result of Transactional Justice.

Good enough I have not had cause to be involved in any form of Transactional Justice, even for my own personal cases, all of which I believe I have won or lost purely due the facts of the cases and the application of law thereto. But I have no doubt that there is a high possibility that Transactional Justice is real.

Part of the Judicial Oath goes thus: ‘… I will discharge my duties and perform my functions honestly, to the best of my ability and faithfully in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law; that I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions.’

Transactional Justice is allowing personal, family, social or financial benefit to influence judicial decisions. But we all call it the ‘High Court of Justice’, as it is described in the Constitution.

According to the learned authors of the very persuasive Black’s Dictionary of Law, the notion of justice is ‘the fair and proper administration of laws’, meaning that it must be balanced, be equitable, be fair and just and it must substantially conform with known principles and standards of law.

In human affairs, the judge is next to God, which is why they have earned the title ‘My Lord’. In the same way that the words of God become established to man without question, so also are we all enjoined to obey all decisions of courts in order to guarantee peace and orderliness in the society. But then, how do you go about obeying Transactional Judgments, procured through fraud and other extraneous influences?

This has raised a great challenge for the judiciary and the Nigerian Bar Association, to tackle as a matter of national emergency, or else we should all just close down our chambers and leave legal practice for Transactional Lawyers.

Why on earth should I bother myself to prepare for a court case that I know I will win or lose, as the case may be, and one in which the outcome is already predetermined?

Now the trouble in all of these is that the rich and affluent, the ones so very well connected and powerful, will always get the upper hand in situations of Transactional Justice, which will be a game for the highest bidder. The poor man and his lawyer, the weak litigant and the lowly members of society stand to lose in all cases where Transactional Justice is at play, as they simply cannot match the stakes.

The negative consequence of Transactional Justice is that impunity, lawlessness and wickedness will continue to plague society, if the wicked and lawless oppressor cannot even be called to order by the court. When they breach your rights, they then turn around and taunt you to go to court, if you feel sufficiently aggrieved. ‘We will meet in court’, is what you get when you dare challenge impunity.

It has gotten to the point that there are now individuals and even corporate entities that their names evoke fear, such that once you mention their names, people just throw up their hands in the air in total submission, meaning that you waste your time challenging any of their actions in court.

But this should not be at all. We must not drive people to the point of frustration that will lead them to take law into their hands. If the courts cease to be the last hope of the common man, then the consequences can be very dire indeed. The rule of might, the power of money and the influence of man, should not determine the ends of justice.

I believe in my heart as most lawyers do that judges are human and they can err at times, but all cases of Transactional Justice should be met with open resistance and humiliation by all lovers of justice, less we all become helpless victims of injustice, because when judgment is procured by any means whatsoever and howsoever, it ceases to wear the noble garment of justice.

Insecurity In Kwara:Effective Leadership To The Rescue

By Bashir Ashura.

As Kwara state grapples with an unprecedented surge in insecurity,our governor,Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, seems to be more interested in rubbing shoulders with the power brokers in Abuja than addressing the pressing issues in his home state. This trend has sparked outrage amongst Kwarans who, feeling abandoned, are now clamoring for change.

Abdulrazaq was duly elected to serve the people of Kwara, but his frequent absence and seeming preoccupation with federal politics have left many wondering: who is really in charge of kwara?

The high rate of insecurity, marked by a disturbing increase in banditry, theft, and cultism, is unlike anything the state has faced in the past two decades. Yet, news of the Governor being in town has become a rarity.

These circumstances raise a critically important question. should the Kwara State House of Assembly declare Deputy Governor, Mr. Kayode Alabi, as the Acting Governor? This proposition is not borne out of mere politicking but out of an urgent need for effective leadership. The worsening situation in Kwara requires an on-ground, dedicated, and responsive leader.

The role of a governor extends beyond the ceremonial. It is about service, leadership, and most importantly, presence. The state executive council meetings, for instance, is a very important platforms for discussing and formulating strategic responses to the state’s challenges. Yet, these cannot be adequately executed with a governor who seems to have made Abuja his primary residence.

The people of Kwara are not just demanding the physical presence of the governor. We are calling for a leader who can restore peace and harmony to the state. The acute hardship, irregularities, and security challenges Kwara is currently facing need immediate attention and strategic solutions, not a leader who appears detached from the reality on the ground.

The Speaker Kwara State House of Assembly Rt Hon Yakub Danladi should, therefore, consider the people’s plea. If the Governor will not prioritize the people’s well-being, then perhaps it’s time to allow the Deputy Governor to step into the role. This decisive move could pave way for more effective leadership and offer a glimmer of hope to the distraught citizens of Kwara.

Kwara State, known as the State of Harmony, is currently far from harmonious. Its people are crying out for change, for leadership, and for peace. The question now is whether those in power will listen to our calls and act accordingly. Because, indeed, Kwara deserves better than this.

DSS And Accusations Of Disobedience To Court Orders- Setting The Records Right


Peter N. Afunanya Ph.D, fsi
Public Relations Officer
Department of State Services (DSS)
National Headquarters

Recently, the media is awash with various commentaries about DSS disobedience to Court Orders. These accusations, as wrong as they are, have peaked in the Emefiele saga. It may interest the public and indeed the avowed critics of the Service to note the following incidents and timelines to show that it has religiously obeyed Court orders in respect of the case and even others.

In 2022, the Service commenced the investigation of Mr Godwin Emefiele on suspicion of Terrorism Financing, Money Laundering among others and subsequently applied to the Federal High Court, Abuja for his arrest and detention. But the Chief Judge objected to the order and clearly stated that the Service did not need an order to investigate or arrest him.

Emefiele was to later obtain a restraining order issued by Justice MA Hassan of the FCT High Court against the Service. Instructively, the DSS obeyed this Order and did not arrest or detain Emefiele.However, on 9th June, 2023, Emefiele was suspended as CBN Governor by the President.

Based on new information and suspected criminal infractions, the Service, as expected by law, arrested and detained him using a Magisterial Order. On 10th July, 2023, Justice Hamza Mu’azu of the FCT High Court, while recognising that the DSS had every legal right to arrest, detain and investigate Emefiele, ordered for his release or prosecution within seven days.

The Service expeditiously and expressly complied with the order and charged him for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition being one of the criminal suspicions. The Muazu Order had, by implication, extended Emefiele’s detention by seven days with effect from 10th July, 2023 when the initial detention order had expired.

Within the same period, Justice Bello Kawu of the same FCT High Court, while dismissing reliefs sought by Peter Abang, Counsel to Emefiele on 14th July, 2023 ordered for the release or prosecution of Emefiele within 48 hours. However, the Service had complied with the seven days ultimatum issued by Justice Muazu. In obedience to rule of law, Emefiele was arraigned before Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, on 25th July, 2023 for illegal possession of arms and ammunition.

The Service had long issued a press statement over the incident that happened at the Court between its staff and those of Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) and pledged to investigate it. Though the investigation is ongoing, the preliminary findings are quite shocking considering the ignoble roles played by some public officials.

As normal with criminal investigations, security agencies re-arrest suspects when there is adequate suspicion of commission of a crime or as may be revealed by an ongoing investigation. Emefiele was re-arrested on the basis of this. Even though the re-arrest was tainted by the overzealousness of personnel of the Service and NCoS, it was nonetheless legally procedural.

Later, the Service applied for an Exparte Order at the FCT High Court presided by Justice Edward Okpe (and not Justice Mu’azu as erroneously and massively reported in the media) to detain Emefiele for 14 days. Against the established rules regarding exparte applications, a lawyer suddenly appeared in the Court for Emefiele. While the Judge did not outrightly reject the DSS request, he struck out the motion upon its withdrawal by the Service counsel. But this is not without his guidance.

Earlier, the Judge had drawn the attention of the counsels to Section 293 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) which also recognises the Magistrate Court as a competent Court that can first be approached for an order for custody of a suspect under investigation. In other words, the Service, having taken the hint of the Court, took the right steps. What transpired at the Court was, thereafter, variously misrepresented by some mischief makers. Part of the disinformation is to the effect that the Court “struck out the application and stated that it was an abuse of judicial process”.

That was not what the Court said. What Justice Okpe said was “the Applicant having withdrawn the application, same is hereby struck out”. That was all. The Court records are there. But purveyors of fake news distorted the message to suit their intent; just to make the Service look bad – a sort of giving the dog a bad name in order to hang it.

Many had gone to town with stories of DSS fragrant disobedience to Court Orders especially in view of the last episodes at the High Courts in Lagos and Abuja. With what played out at the Court on 27th July 2023 under Justice Okpe, the Service immediately applied and obtained a detention order from a Magistrate Court. So, Emefiele is legally detained. For reasons that the Emefiele case is subjudice, the Service will restrain from making further comments on the subject matter.

For either lack of knowledge or deliberate act to ignore the truth, there has been sustained bashing of the Service and its leadership in the media and public spaces. It is ironical that the same people who condemn media trial are daily taking the Service through the same. The actual points are however, not lost on the Service. It is aware of the depth of the orchestrations and even deeper plot to incite the judiciary against it.

Targeting DSS DG, YM Bichi, for insidious media attacks is needless. Any DGSS, even if brought from heaven among the angels, will discharge the DSS mandate. There isn’t a time in our national sojourn for greatness that key organs of government will cease to exist or not needed. The DSS, like the CIA, FBI among others, is a major and positive instrument of State administration and management. It is essential for statecraft, governance, stability and public order. Scraping it as being canvassed by the uninformed is unreasonable.

It is indeed obvious the DSS is misunderstood. It is obvious there is a mob action against the Service. Allow the DSS be. Allow Bichi, a fine gentleman officer, be. Support DSS. Support Nigeria. As in the national anthem, Arise, O Compatriots.

Some critics have made varied insinuations including abusing the Service, its leadership and completely distorting the significant historical role of the Service in nation building. Others have said it is wobbling and of no relevance. Laughable. The DSS is not tottering. It is standing and firmly too. Even the worst of its critics knows that the Service has played (and still plays) stabilising roles for the nation. Its loyalty and patriotism are incomparable.

The Service is a stabilizing force for the country’s democracy. Same for the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria’s sovereignty. Only a collaborative support from stakeholders will strengthen this. The Service does not claim to know it all; a reason it allows for constructive criticism and makes out time to explain itself in line with transparency and democratic accountability.

Whether on Emefiele, Bawa or Kanu, the Service has obeyed judicial orders and handled the cases procedurally and in accordance with the rule of law. Critics are encouraged to be a bit more discerning and up their research capabilities. Doing so will reveal that the Service obeys orders. The Court of Appeal judgement on Kanu is recommended for detailed study. Maybe, we can decipher the difference between Discharged and Acquitted and what the use of either or both mean in the final order of a Judge.

The DSS is an ardent respecter of the law. Anyone may argue this but it is true. It is in this regard that it has applied for either a stay or notice of appeal on some of the matters. One who does not obey the laws will not resort to legal procedures like the DSS has done.

Let those seeking justice not intimidate the Judges or derail law enforcement efforts. Judges deliver justice without fear or favour and should be allowed to discharge their duties honourably. For the umpteenth time, the Service reiterates its unequivocal stance on rule of law and respect for the judiciary. This position remains unchanging despite the futile attempts to paint it otherwise.

Nigeria Must Fully Implement The Petroleum Industry Act

By NJ Ayuk

For years, on behalf of the African Energy Chamber (AEC), I publicly encouraged Nigeria’s leadership to sign the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law.

Across its five chapters and 300 sections, the PIB promised to repeal all regulations pertaining to Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, effectively resetting decades of policy gridlock regarding fiscal imbalances and the detrimental effects of crime and corruption. In place of these regulations, the PIA offered a new framework for the industry to abide by, one that would place Nigeria back on track toward progress and prosperity.

On August 16, 2021, we were thrilled to see former President Muhammadu Buhari enact the law — now known as the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) — making all its promising provisions official at long last.

Nearly two years from its passage into law, implementation of the PIA and its initiatives has been slow for numerous reasons, but not without progress, and signals from Nigeria’s new administration indicate that these conditions will not remain the status quo.

After ascending to office in May, Nigeria’s newly elected president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, hit the ground running in terms of reshaping his country’s approach to petroleum industry relations and preparing to execute the mandates of the PIA.

In July of this year, President Tinubu received the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) at the State House in Abuja, assuring its delegates that Nigeria welcomes their business and that his administration is working to remove any policy or procedural bottlenecks detracting from the investment appeal of Nigeria’s gas and deep-water assets.

Considering these recent statements from President Tinubu and a recently released report from his administration’s Policy Advisory Council entitled Enabling Growth in Nigeria’s Energy & Natural Resources Sectors: Sector Challenges and Proposed Interventions, Nigeria’s leadership seems intent on revitalizing the entire energy landscape across the country.

A Need for Intervention

The signing of the PIA represented the culmination of more than 20 years of efforts to reform an oil and gas sector plagued by long-standing problems on multiple fronts.

Despite its long-held status as Africa’s largest oil producer, and sixth largest in the entire world at times, 2022 saw Nigeria drop to fourth place in the African rankings behind Angola, Algeria, and Libya. With its 37.1 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves and 206.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, traditionally, petroleum products comprise nearly 6% of Nigeria’s gross domestic product, 95% of earnings from foreign trade, and 80% of government revenues.

In defiance of these significant averages, Nigeria’s oil production rate has declined in recent years, down to an average of 1 million barrels per day (mmbpd), nearly halving its OPEC quota of 1.8 mmbpd. Large-scale theft, sabotage, and pipeline vandalism account for much of this drop.

While the combined security efforts of Nigerian military forces and other government agencies under the previous administration did lead to the recovery of millions of liters of petroleum products in their various forms, they did not have a meaningful effect on the downward trend in production. Nigeria’s failure to adequately secure its infrastructure and rein in these production losses has also led international oil companies toward divestment from the region. Nigerian oil and gas sector will be one of the main attractions of the Africa Energy Week (AEW) 2023, which will be held in Cape Town from October 16th to 20th.

Hope on the Horizon

The PIA aims to reverse Nigeria’s course regarding its energy future. With President Tinubu’s endorsement and proactive stance on its directives, we hope to see the PIA’s terms fulfilled and Nigeria finally reoriented toward a more prosperous era.

Efforts to overhaul the Nigerian oil and gas industry date at least as far back as the year 2000 when the Obasanjo administration inaugurated the Oil and Gas Reform Implementation Committee, whose investigations into the Nigerian energy sector eventually led to the PIA’s initial drafts.

First introduced in 2008, the PIB was subject to years of setbacks as legislators debated its content and submitted revisions. The version finally signed into law in 2021 addresses four main areas of concern for Nigeria’s petroleum industry: governance and institutions, administration, host community development, and the fiscal framework. In short, the PIA seeks to convert the governance of Nigeria’s petroleum sector into a more commercial model.

Last summer, the AEC celebrated when the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) transitioned to NNPC Limited, a move denoting initial progress toward implementing the provisions outlined in the PIA. This transition represented a shift in how the NNPC would conduct business going forward. Free from Federal Executive Council oversight, the NNPC Limited could now pursue new ventures, become more public-facing with a stock market listing, and compete with other state-owned petroleum companies.

As NNPC Limited, the company has already engaged in re-negotiations of the production-sharing contracts tied to five deepwater blocks, successfully untangling them from decades of disputes.

The transition hasn’t been as smooth for other Nigerian entities affected by the new standards put forth by the PIA. Delays in collaboration between groups like the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), attributed to incomplete agenda items like the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and the Upstream Environmental Management Regulation (UEMR), have stalled the PIA’s full implementation. However, leaders at these authorities have affirmed their commitment to the change and have encouraged all stakeholders to expedite the process.

As detailed in the Policy Advisory Council’s report, President Tinubu and his administration are well aware of Nigeria’s low ratio of revenue to GDP, low investor confidence, and monetary losses in the petroleum sector. However, the report also outlines a path toward a full reversal of these circumstances.

On a timetable covering the first 100 days and stretching outward to 2030, the Policy Advisory Council’s report explains how Nigeria’s petroleum industry can eventually achieve sustainable production rates of 4 mmbpd for oil and 12 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) for natural gas.

The Tinubu administration’s short-term goals include recruiting and placing competent leaders in the various ministries, departments, and agencies accountable to the PIA, reforming military task force operations for security, and defining fiscal policies. Moving into 2024—in addition to other security, finance, and regulatory measures—the report calls for promoting a diversified oil and gas industry and developing a gas export strategy.

Attaining Nigeria’s Ideal Future

The Policy Advisory Council’s structured and detailed report sets key performance indicators and milestones for Nigeria in the years ahead, plotting a course to a stabilized and flourishing future for the national economy and its population. The report also serves as a testament to the current administration’s intent to make this future a reality.

As one of the PIB’s most vocal supporters — having recognized its potential as a mechanism for correcting worsening conditions in Nigeria’s energy sector and reinvigorating foreign investment — I urged the previous administration to pass the bill. Considering its slow start despite having been passed into law, these recent and positive developments have given me more confidence that we will see the law fully implemented.

Nigeria still sits atop a wealth of fossil resources that offers up an end to energy poverty and financial instability as long as they are extracted and monetized responsibly and in a manner that benefits all stakeholders. The steps laid out in the Policy Advisory Council’s report lead to this exact outcome, but getting there depends entirely on the full implementation of the PIA.

I implore all of Nigeria’s leaders to continue working with one another to achieve this most critical goal.

Of JAMB, Mmesoma And The Failed Federation

By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN

The prevailing scenario today is that candidates seeking admission into Nigerian universities are required to participate in an examination organized by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, an agency established in or around 1989 as part of the errors of military regimes in forcing unitary government on a supposed federation.

Since then, it has become compulsory for candidates to participate in the UTME process, for them to gain admission into any university.

Many parents have been thrown into perpetual agony every year, due to the inability of their wards to secure admission into any tertiary institution, such that there are youths in Nigeria who have been on the JAMB radar for over five years, waiting for their letters of admission from the ‘almighty JAMB’.

It has thus become an annual ritual, for the nation to be regaled with the record of performances of candidates who have been compelled to undertake a national examination in order to qualify to be admitted to study in a university. This anachronistic process threw up Mmesoma Ejikeme, the 19-year old girl who shot herself into global limelight the wrong way. How did this happen?

Mmesoma participated in the UTME computer-based test along with other candidates nationwide. She subsequently requested for her results electronically from JAMB and she was informed that she scored 249. Not satisfied with this result, Mmesoma proceeded in what has now become a well-orchestrated crime, to concoct a different result of 362 for herself and by herself.

She instantly became a celebrity, garnering for herself undeserved accolades, awards and several promises for her career. Her claims were refuted and resisted by JAMB, with empirical evidence and data. Mmesoma then deployed social media and made a video of her supposed innocence, trauma and persecution.

That act alone almost drove the entire nation into the precipice. Many who believed her story were not willing to give JAMB the benefit of doubt at all, since Mmesoma claimed that she was traumatized by her own fraud.

Perhaps realizing the damage that this little girl would do to herself and the educational system, the Anambra State government promptly waded in to set up a committee of eminent persons in order to give her a soft landing. It was only a matter of time for her fable to collapse.

Mmesoma has since confessed to the crime and has through her father, apologized to the nation and to JAMB as well. Is Mmesoma not a victim of forced federalism? Was the UTME necessary at all? Should it be the only means of securing admission into the university in a federation?

The JAMB Act was enacted to commence on December 7, 1989, with a mandate for the agency to perform the following functions, under and by virtue of section 5 (1) (a) – (c) and (2) thereof:

5. (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other enactment, the Board shall be responsible for –
(a) the general control of the conduct of matriculation examinations for admissions into all Universities, Polytechnics (by whatever name called) and Colleges of Education (by whatever name called) in Nigeria;
© the placement of suitably qualified candidates in collaboration with the tertiary institutions after taking into account –
(i) the vacancies available in each tertiary institution;
(ii) the guidelines approved for each tertiary institution by its proprietor or other competent authority;
(iii) the preferences expressed or otherwise indicated by candidates for certain tertiary institutions and course; and
(iv) such other matters as the Board may be directed by the Minister to consider, or the Board itself may consider appropriate in the circumstances.
(2) For the avoidance of doubt, the Board shall be responsible for determining matriculation requirements and conducting examinations leading to undergraduate admissions and also for admissions to National Diploma and Nigerian Certificate in Education courses, but shall not be responsible for examinations or any other selective processes for postgraduate courses and any other courses offered by the tertiary institutions.”

What section 5 of the JAMB Act reproduced above has done is to place the destinies of candidates in the hands of a government bureaucracy, which partly accounts for the number of youths trooping out of Nigeria for greener pastures.

By including the phrase “by whatever name called” in the reference to tertiary institutions covered by JAMB, it means even universities and polytechnics established and funded by States and private entities have to go through JAMB for admission, through such mysterious criteria like federal character, educationally disadvantaged States, catchment areas, etc.

Paragraphs 27-30 of the Part 2 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution place matters of university, technological or professional education on the Concurrent Legislative List, with power granted to the States to legislate thereon. So, the issue is why JAMB has become the only institution regulating admission into tertiary institutions.

I acknowledge and indeed applaud the laudable innovations that Professor Ishaq Oloyede has brought to JAMB, especially in alleviating the pains and sufferings that candidates and their parents go through in the process of seeking admission. The effective deployment of technology by JAMB has in no small way reduced the incidences of fraud and manipulation associated with the UTME process.

Eliminating the human factor has also helped to make the process transparent and credible. The need for physical presence in JAMB offices nationwide in order to resolve many issues arising from or associated with the examinations has been addressed successfully.

Various centres have been established by JAMB for the resolution of issues relating to the admission process without having to know anyone or visiting JAMB offices physically. The processes are seamless and effective once you follow the online instructions. But this does not in any way take away the anomaly of the existence of JAMB.

In the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, it is stated clearly in section 2 (2) that “Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of States and a Federal Capital Territory.” In the proper definition of a federation, you have the federating units as the strength and power of the federation, with a center created to manage certain peripheral matters that bind the units together.

In a country where private individuals have established their own universities, where religious organisations and corporate entities have their own unique universities, how do you then maintain JAMB as a central agency to determine which candidate these universities will admit based on an examination conducted without the input of the said universities?

In very embarrassing situations, some of the universities have developed their own post-UTME examinations, through which successful candidates in UTME failed post-UTME tests woefully and were thus denied admission.

What prompted this monumental fraud of Mmesoma? It is the wrong emphasis placed upon paper qualification by our institutions and indeed society. The issue of examination malpractices is not limited to Mmesoma but is prevalent in virtually all academic institutions where even parents pay to get their wards to excel.

For other qualifying examinations such as NECO, WAEC, etc, the story of miracle centres abounds all over the place. In a very bizarre situation recently, a lawyer was caught in the examination hall of the Nigerian Law School helping a student to write the bar examinations.

University students are often recruited to be substitutes for candidates in qualifying examinations. In present-day Nigeria, there are many ‘graduates’ who cannot write complete sentences or produce any intelligible essay. At the oral interviews, you get thoroughly embarrassed with the blunders being spewed out by supposed graduates who at times claimed to have master’s degree.

There are many people in various government establishments who cannot defend the degrees with which they occupy their exalted offices and positions. We know these things but we turn the blind eye in the name of ethnicity, religion and at times outright corruption. There are several Mmesomas even in the universities, some as teachers and others as administrators.

In reality however, there are a good number of well experienced persons in various establishments who possess the capacity and know-how but are limited by the absence of paper qualifications. They are able to produce wonderful results based on either their experience or training whilst those who have been imposed upon them through fraudulent paper qualifications cannot match their expertise and utility.

In a peculiar case that the judiciary would have to resolve one way or the other very soon, it has been alleged that the certificate of the National Youth Service of an important personality was forged. It is often said that in Nigeria, many people parade multiple ages for different purposes, such as the official and unofficial ages, at times to beat the statutory prescription for retirement.

The case of Mmesoma then is a testament of the failure of our federation, a demonstration of lack of confidence in our institutions and agencies. JAMB has no relevance in a federation other an avenue to assert control and suffocate the federating units.


Shell Paints Picture Of Better Niger Delta Through Radio Programme

By Precious Okolobo

For one hour each week on two radio stations in Port Harcourt since 2017,the NNPC/Shell/TotalEnergies/NAOC Joint Venture operated by The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) has been reaching the public in the Niger Delta with messages of hope and development through a pioneering discussion programme.

Appropriately named Canvas, the Niger Delta Roundtable, the SPDC-operated joint venture is painting the picture of a better way of life through lively discussions on the programme that not only highlight the ills of the region but also stress the resilience of its people to inspire reawakening and renewal.

Each week, anchors lead guests from all walks of life in sessions that are broadcast live to the core Niger Delta states and beyond with members of the public joining through social media and phone calls. The forum continues on social media after the anchors call it a day.

“Canvas has grown to become a reference point in public discourse on radio in the South South and South East geo-political zones,” said SPDC Director and Head, Country Corporate Relations, Igo Weli. “We’re pleased to help refocus the narrative in the Niger Delta from crime and violence to justice, peace and development.

Canvas is by no means the silver bullet to solving the challenges of the region, but if the weekly discussions create awareness and influence a change of heart somewhere, then it has been worth the efforts these years and should continue.”

Most importantly, the programme aims to contribute to making the Niger Delta an attractive investment destination that offers the needed environment for businesses to thrive in an atmosphere where dialogue, rather than violence, is the tool for resolving conflicts.

Canvas was conceived out of the need to re-focus the narrative on the Niger Delta from being troubled and problem-plagued to solution-seeking and forward-looking. Mr. Weli, the executive producer and the production team worked the structures of a programme that will be interactive and accommodating of diverse views and opinions with the aim of distilling the best ideas for the Niger Delta.

Canvas first aired on Rhythm 93.7FM Port Harcourt on April 10, 2017, and now runs every Monday 9 am to 10a.m. on Family Love 97.7FM Port Harcourt; and on Wednesday 4pm to 5p.m. on Nigeria Info 92.3FM Port Harcourt.

The edition on Family Love FM is simultaneously broadcast to audiences in Bayelsa, Delta, Edo states and environs via Radio Nigeria’s Creek 106.5FM and Bronze 101.5FM stations, while the one on Nigeria Info 92.3FM covers Rivers and neighbouring states.

An eclectic mix of guests ranging from subject matter experts, academics, social and labour activists, to public affairs analysts, employees in public and private sectors, air their views and respond to questions and insights by the public.

The guests are not paid and so are not under any commercial obligation to speak one way or the other. The production team is keen to stress that Canvas is not about Shell, although its operations often feature in the discussions.

A total of 676 editions had aired on Family Love 97.7FM and Nigeria Info 92.3FM as at end June 2023, excluding the ancillary broadcasts on the other stations. Topics discussed included SPDC JV and government programmes, youth and entrepreneurial development, digital literacy and post-Covid recovery as well as challenges such as crude theft, pipeline vandalism etc.

It takes a lot of legwork and intellectual exertion for Canvas to air every week. SPDC Spokesperson, Michael Adande, who is also the producer, said, “Our work begins with deciding topics and identifying suitable guests who we then engage to accommodate the interruption of their schedule. We work closely with the anchors and guests to ensure what goes on air meets high broadcast standards and promotes the aims of the show.”

It falls on the anchors, Kate Ogan of Family Love FM and Kaladakuro Batubo of Nigeria Info FM, to deliver a programme that makes a listening pleasure. “My responsibility is to drive into the consciousness of listeners, the fact that the Niger Delta needs massive development given its potential,” Mr. Batubo explained. “Thus, I attempt to make the topics relatable, awakening the responsibility in everyone, both indigenes and investors, on the development of the region.”

The NNPC/SPDC/TotalEnergies/NAOC joint venture’s social investment projects and programmes are regular topics on Canvas. This happened when an initiative in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) known as Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs) featured on Family Love FM on 23rd May 2023, preparatory to their simultaneous unveiling in Yenagoa and Port Harcourt the following day.

Nigeria Info featured the same topic post-unveiling. Chairman of Emohua Trust in Rivers State, Smart Okpara, who was a guest on the two stations at the time, said, “The phone-in during the show allowed for real-time feedback.

For example, when I appeared on the programme, a caller from Emohua raised an issue on a project planned during my time as chairman of the GMoU cluster in the community. Thankfully, I came prepared with the facts and figures and I cleared the air. Such feedback helps to build trust between community people and their leaders and promotes unity and development at the grassroots.”

Kingsley Nweke, a Professor of Governance and Politics at Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rivers State agreed; “Canvas could help improve the existing long-term knowledge and communication gaps in diverse areas among its growing listenership in the Niger Delta capable of transforming the region.” Prof. Nweke is currently on sabbatical with SPDC and has been a guest on the programme.

An engineer based in Port Harcourt and ardent listener to Canvas, Ogbonnaya Chima, described it “as a highly impactful programme that x-rays contemporary issues with focus on the Niger Delta Region.”

He noted, “I’m mostly impressed with the fact that the guests are experts/SMEs/practitioners in the topic under discourse and they bring in hands-on experience which enable the listeners to understand and follow the discussion.”

Now in its seventh year of unbroken run, Canvas continues as a strong fixture of radio discourse on the Niger Delta. Mr. Weli said of the future of the programme, “The good thing about Canvas is that the conversations continue after each edition, meaning the programme extends beyond the studios to hearts and minds, where real change resides and begins.Slowly but surely, the SPDC-operated joint venture is helping to paint a picture of the new Niger Delta on Canvas.This turns out to be our motivation and reward which will hopefully take the show to the next level.”

In other words, the painting of the new image of the Niger Delta can only get better!

ISESE FESTIVAL: An Open Letter To Sulu Gambari


Your Royal Highness,

So soon after the Moslem season of spiritual purification, it is sad to see the ancient city of Ilorin, a confluence of faiths and ethnic varieties, reduced to this level of bigotry and intolerance, manifested in the role of a presiding monarch.

The truncation of a people’s traditional festival is a crime against the cultural heritage of all humanity. Year after year, the Ramadan has been celebrated in this nation as an inclusive gathering of humanity, irrespective of divergences of belief.

Not once, in my entire span of existence, have I encountered pronouncements by followers of any faith that the slaughtering of rams on the streets and market places is an offence to their concept of godhead.

Vegetarians hold their peace. Buddhists walk a different path. Prior to Ramadan, non-Moslems routinely join in observing the preceding season of fasting as a spiritual exercise worthy of emulation.

Perhaps this is another occasion for self-introduction. I currently teach courses in Abu Dhabi in the Emirates. That is the region of Origin, all others are mere appendages. I was there just before Christmas. I passed through again in the countdown to Ramadan.

On both occasions, the streets, businesses, hotel lobbies and other public spaces were lit up with the same festive spirit. Only the symbols within the designs were different. The mood of celebration was equally pervasive and inclusive.

Painfully, my mind could not help but travel back home, and some years past, recalling for instance how a procession of Corpus Christ was once attacked, some killed, by a brood of Moslem fanatics, for daring to process along the streets of that same Ilorin. Needless to say, such abominations have become routine. Community is sacrificed to bigotry.

It may interest you to know that, in Abu Dhabi, numerous programmes are pursued, at government expense, for the evolution of a humanized community based on religious tolerance and mutual respect. By contrast here, several tiers removed from Origin, must we turn the turban of enlightenment into a crown of bigotry? And in a society whose very constitution that supposedly governs us all guarantees freedom of belief, association and movement?

Your Royal Highness, it is conduct like this that has bred Boko Haram, ISIS, ISWAP and other religious malformations that currently plague this nation, spreading grief and outrage across a once peaceful landscape, degrading my and your existence with their virulent brand of Islam. It is conduct like this that has turned, before our very eyes, a once ecumenical city like Kaduna into a blood-stained mockery of cohabitation.

It is conduct like this that makes it possible for a young student, Deborah, to be lynched in the very presence of armed police, on mere allegation of having belittled the image of a revered prophet. It is action of this nature, perpetrated in obscure as well as prominent outlets of the nation that turns a young generation into mindless monsters, ever ready to swarm out and kill, kill, kill.

Simply kill for the thrill of it, but under presumption of religious immunity. It is conduct like this that then nerves one extremist to wake up one day in a Scandinavian country, publicly announce his intention, and proceed to make a bonfire of copies of the Qur’an. Reprisals follow, equally mindless, trapping humanity in an ever-ascending spiral of costly but gleeful violence.

This continent has endured centuries of disdain and despoilation at the hands of alien religions – Christianity and Islam at the forefront. Both religions have been sanctimoniously deployed as justification for unspeakable atrocities, for the dehumanization of the black race.

Do I need to teach you your own history, or is it that you prefer to forget? To encounter, in this century, a convert to alien spiritual dogma, appropriating the cloak of piety to impede the observation of our antecedent spirituality is not just racial treachery but an assault on civilized conduct as a universal aspiration of humanity, where every discovery, every new encounter usher in new propositions of enlightenment.

Humanity builds on the past, preserving alternatives of world views, not destroying that past which, in any case, is indestructible. Your conduct is an affront to my sense of racial being, and that holds true for millions beyond these national and continental borders, stretching into the Americas and the Caribbean.

There you will still encounter ISESE and allied spiritualities. There, ISESE still exerts its hold on the human spirit. Visit Brazil, go to Columbia, explore Cuba, and be humbled by the tenacity of this spirituality among the descendants of black humanity.

Even the sturdiest of thrones crumble. Long after you and I are gone, generations will continue to endure the effects of present anomalies, pretensions, hypocrisies, will continue to harvest the bitter fruits of the seeds of discord being sown by their forebears. I therefore urge you to rein in those agents of division, of triumphalist intolerance, such as the Majlisu Shabab Ulamahu Society.

There is a thin line between Power and Piety. Call Yeye Ajasikemi OIokun Omolara to your side, make peace with her and make restitution whichever way you can for this grievous insult to our race. We know the history of Ilorin and the trajectory of your dynasty – but these are not the issues. The issue is peaceful cohabitation, respect for other worldviews, their celebrations, their values and humanity. The issue is the acceptance of the multiple facets of human enlightenment.

The greatest avatars that the world has known were not without human frailties, flaws, and errors of understanding. You are NOT Omniscient. And you are not Omnipotent.

Akintalun of Egba
Giiwa of Ijebu-Remo
Akogun of Isara.

Tinubu On The Familiar Turf

By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN

This is the way it has always been when a new leader assumes the mantle. In 2015, all that many Nigerians wanted was anything but Goodluck Jonathan, the former President.

President Muhammadu Buhari was presented as a preferable alternative and the Messiah that Nigeria needed at the time. Strangely, the arrowhead of that campaign would later take over from Buhari in a twist of fate.

Immediately Buhari was sworn in, the goons went to town and they regaled us with catalogues of woes that the political party they took over from had committed, as if that was not the very reason they were elected into office. Even till his last days in office, Buhari’s handlers were still talking of 16 wasted years of PDP.

In those days of the commencement of his tenure, Buhari was said to be the best thing to have happened to Nigeria after independence. We were told that his body language alone had restored stable electricity and wiped off corruption from Nigeria. But we became wiser with time.

As they say, when people have been subjected to years of neglect and poor leadership, any little effort from a new leader would be misinterpreted as revolutionary. But we are wiser now, as a people. Or so I believe.

On May 29, 2023, His Excellency, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu was sworn in as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, ostensibly to fulfil his lifetime ambition. He immediately committed himself to the abolition of the fuel subsidy regime and also promised the unification of the exchange rate regime. He subsequently dissolved the security chiefs and also sacked the boards of all federal government agencies and parastatals.

This is the usual stock in trade, at times to raise the consciousness of the people and at other times to buy support and loyalty. These positions have to be filled one way or the other. The judiciary is key to the success of any government and so it was not surprising that he quickly assented to the Bill for the unification of the retirement age of all judges of the superior courts across board.

The appointments made so far are clearly predictable; the Chief of Staff, the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff, the Central Bank Governor, the Comptroller-General of Customs, etc, all from the same region. When taken side by side the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Chairman of ICPC and the Comptroller-General of Immigrations, we can well define the real meaning of nepotism.

Take it or leave it, the majority ethnic groups would take no prisoners; so it was under Buhari, so it is now under Tinubu and so it will be, even under His Excellency, Peter Obi. There is nothing new. People should not delude or deceive themselves to think that any leader has come to their rescue.

The main three-fold planks of the Buhari administration were security, anti-corruption and the economy. The seemingly stable electricity supply that was contrived as a product of his body language at the commencement of his tenure later turned out to be the worst in the history of Nigeria with 99 national grid collapses, the anti-corruption war so consumed the government that even the symbol of that struggle (EFCC Chairman) was himself swallowed by it.

In a way that jolted Nigerians, some of those who were convicted by the court of corrupt practices were granted state pardon by Buhari and some others that had corruption cases or charges pending against them were smart to join the political party in power to have the cases dropped or abandoned. It is not different from what we are currently witnessing, wherein the EFCC Chairman has been accused of corruption and abuse of power without a charge filed against him in court.

It is the style of new administrations in order to be seen as doing something and to have enough time to settle down, before baring their fangs. President Buhari actually canvassed for judicial independence by signing the law granting financial autonomy to the judiciary but in the same vein, no other administration has victimized, intimidated and humiliated the judiciary as much as the Buhari administration, when we remember how security agencies stormed the houses of judges and how the head of the judiciary was booted out of office through unconventional ex-parte orders.

The euphoria of fuel subsidy removal by President Tinubu, the commendations from the foreign nations about the exchange rate unification and the devaluation of the Naira would seem to have driven the President into some kind of inaction, whereby one month after his inauguration, there is no cabinet in place, just as it happened under the Buhari regime.

Initially when he started, President Buhari had promised to take the battle to the insurgents and the bandits but in the end, we were later to be informed that even in Aso Villa in Abuja from where he operated, the President was in mortal dread of #EndSARS protesters, whom he thought were sponsored to overthrow his government. In the end, Nigeria suffered the most heinous pogrom ever, with thousands of lives lost to herdsmen, kidnappers and bandits, in which human lives were wasted like common chickens.

In the same place where President Tinubu scooped out the Electricity Bill are also the Hononourable Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais Report on Electoral Reforms, the Orosanye Report on the merger of government agencies to cut corruption and wastages and indeed the 2014 National Conference Report for the integration of Nigeria. In that same Aso Villa, there are reports of the Judicial Panels on Police Brutality from across the States and most importantly, there is also the Governor El-Rufai Committee Report on Restructuring, all gathering dust.

President Tinubu is not new in the saddle. For the period when he was in the opposition, he championed true federalism and restructuring, he fought for the rule of law, devolution of powers and state police. Several Bills passed by the 8thand 9th National Assemblies concerning devolution of powers which the Buhari administration ignored are staring at President Tinubu in Aso Villa everyday. Are we now to preach restructuring to the President, or are we to embark upon a fresh campaign on the need to amend the 1999 Constitution or to write a fresh one?

On national television recently, a former governor exposed the gargantuan corruption within the oil and gas sector, especially as it relates to fuel subsidy. Aso Villa has been mum ever since, carrying on business as usual. There is a pending judgment of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria directing the increment of the salary of judicial officers, there is judicial authority for the release of Nnamdi Kanu from custody and another judgment for the payment of damages to Sunday Igboho.

Policy decisions which do not address the real issues plaguing our land amount to nothing but mere tokenism and in like manner, occasional pronouncements made to curry favour and to buy loyalty all suggest opportunism.

The President should address fundamental changes, which should begin with the leadership. When Nigerians see genuine repentance from our leaders, they will not require long sermons to embrace true change. With the drama of the convoy of the President during his last visit to Lagos, no sincere message of change can be preached to our people.

It is not too early for the President to unveil his cabinet, to cut the budget of the executive and remove the subsidies that promote isolated luxuries for leaders in the midst of abject poverty, want, and sufferings for the people. If it is not the case that the President is walking on the familiar turf, he should walk the talk, rediscover the Tinubu that was part of NADECO, obey all extant decisions of the Courts and give the people true leadership.

All the sweet things said about the President, that he is his own man, that he would dare the owners of Nigeria, that he would rule in the interest of the masses and that he would turn around the economy of Nigeria, should begin to manifest even from the first month of his leadership.

If we have to organize press conferences to remind the President that Nigeria is in dire need of restructuring, if we have to embark upon any form of protest to get the President to support the agitation for resource control, gender parity, state police, devolution of powers, local government autonomy and true federalism, then it would mean that we still have a long way to go.

The DSS Operates Within Its Mandate

By: Dr. Peter Afunanya,
Public Relations Officer
Department of State Services

Recently, about five major newspapers called out the DSS for bashing of sorts. The papers, which used their platforms to express varied views about the modus operandi of the Service include Vanguard, Daily Trust, The Sun, Tribune and Punch.

While Vanguard’s piece on 2nd June 2023 was Dousing the DSS/EFCC Feud, Daily Trust, on 6th June 2023, published an editorial titled The DSS Must Conduct Its Duties as a Secret Service. The Sun, on 7th June, published The Needless DSS/EFCC Fracas while Tribune on 8th June 2023 wrote on The EFCC/DSS confrontation.

Similarly, on 14th June 2023, Punch featured DSS, Others Need Radical Reforms. It did not seem that the editorials which sought the reforms of the DSS or to criticize it for its public statements or actions on various subject matters of national security concern were, by any means, an accident or a coincidence. It looked every inch planted or organised. It is a hatchet job or so it seemed.

The judgement that the Service is excessively public or ubiquitous missed the point. The papers manifested predictable bias and patterns.

Relatedly, some respected legal personalities namely, Olisa Agbakoba SAN, Mike Ozekhome SAN and Femi Falana SAN opined that the Service operates outside its mandate especially with regards to the investigation of Godwin Emefiele. The fact that this matter has become sub-judice constrains the Service from making further statements about it.

The celebration of the news of a court order to allow his Lawyers and family access to him is quite unnecessary. He was never denied access. Ever since he was taken into custody, his family has continually accessed him. Same with medical officials. The impression that the Service is going to act on the prompting of the court is not correct. This is by the way.

Back to the subject under discourse. While it may be fair to admit that the news media and aforementioned personalities are entitled to their opinions, measured ignorance predominantly played out in their arguments. First, they failed to recognise that security threats are evolving and so do the approaches to managing them.

Instructively, the security landscape in Nigeria, like many other countries, has become increasingly complex and dynamic. The periodic issuance of press statements to educate or carry citizens and residents along has undoubtedly become part of strategies to manage national security challenges.

Extensive research would have revealed to the critics that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other world intelligence Services deploy similar tactics including occasional statements and advisories.

The CIA includes demographic information on its website to provide the public with valuable insights and data about various populations so to enhance understanding of different regions and communities. Does it mean CIA is operating outside its mandate? Or will that be accepted because it’s CIA, a foreign body?

The need for the agencies to be responsive, transparent and apprise taxpayers has become the global norm in national security and intelligence management. It is called security/intelligence accountability. The tenets of security and intelligence governance expect that agencies remain transparent, accountable and compliant to democracy.

World over, Intelligence Services operate in ways and means not too discernable to the uninitiate. But the institutionalisation of democracy as preferred political culture has nonetheless forced such agencies to communicate often with the Public. You can see why the public statements can never be out of place.

Without public consciousness and support, countering threats may remain a herculean task for security agencies. Democratic subordination and legislative oversight are basic principles which make it an obligation for these agencies to operate openly even when some of their activities are secret.

Ask the USA, UK, France, Canada and other advanced democracies. This level of openness does not vitiate the expected secrecy or in any way compromise their operations.

Regarding the matter concerning the DSS and EFCC, both agencies have refuted claims of a rivalry. It is important to note that comparing the 30th May, 2023 incident at 15 Awolowo Road, Lagos to the barricade of National Assembly in 2018 is inaccurate and unjust due to the substantial differences in the nature and context of the two events.

While it is essential to emphasize inter-agency relations and cooperation, it would be unfair to generalise and imply that the Service is in rivalry and power struggle with the Commission. Each agency operates within its distinct mandate and context.

Meanwhile, the editorials accurately alluded to the constitutionality of the DSS as an intelligence organisation in detecting, preventing and neutralising threats against Nigeria. They commended the Service for its commitment to the security of the country as well as the many feats it had accomplished in the course of discharging its duties. Thank you indeed.

It has to be understood that the Service is not only an intelligence organisation. It is also a law enforcement agency. It is a security and policy advisory organ. Its establishment law expects it to prevent. To prevent unarguably means to enforce.

Should the Service seek media endorsement or permission before deploying operatives and equipment to conduct its job? Should it rather play to the gallery? Characteristic of intelligence operating systems, DSS’ activities may never be completely explained or understood particularly to those who do not need to know.

Even though some of its high officials and operations are known and their veils of secrecy uncovered, there are thousand undercover personnel and actions that have no business going public. It is expected to remain so. With its broad mandate and legal authority to investigate crimes of national security significance, the DSS is well within its rights to initiate an inquiry into any relevant matter.

The DSS is primarily charged to detect and prevent crimes and threats against the internal security of Nigeria. More profoundly, it is to undertake such other responsibility as maybe assigned to it by the President and Commander-in-Chief. Appreciating this role of the DSS is instructive for some sections of the media, lawyers and other interested parties.

The Service operates on the basis of rule of law. Its operations are rule governed. As required, it obtains arrest and detention warrants when and if needed. For the fact that such instruments are not advertised does not suggest otherwise. Critics should get conversant with the law and rules of engagement and desist from misinforming, misleading or inciting the public.

Those seeking to weaken the Service through premeditated reforms may be on a wild goose chase. Consistent attack on it based on ignorance, unrealised interests and emotional assessments and judgements does the country no good. The DSS has stood so firmly for Nigeria. It will continue to.

Considering the warped mentality that has triggered these writeups, it will, no doubt, be unsurprising to witness an upsurge in malicious articles, criticisms and baseless attacks in the public space following the investigations of Messrs Godwin Emefiele and Abdulrasheed Bawa among other flimsy matters.

Certain groups and people are bound to come up with frivolous allegations against the Service and its leadership. These entities may also exploit unpatriotic members of the Service to spread falsehoods, propaganda and hate in order to project the Organisation in a bad light.

Given their reach and war chest to mobilise forces against Government and its key officials, the adversaries may intend to cause distractions to the on-going investigations as directed by the C-in-C. However, the Service will not depose its professionalism for cheap backlash nor discharge its duty with prejudice or fear.

For those who canvass the opinion that the DSS has no business in investigating the matters referred to it are obviously not taking seriously the omnibus powers of the President, as enshrined in the enabling Acts of the SSS and the NSA.

As argued by a onetime Director of the DSS, Fubara Duke, “When a law confers on the President power to delegate ANY assignments he deems fit for a particular Agency to perform, I wonder how it falls outside the purview of (ANY) the stipulations of the President’s powers and by extension why the DSS is being faulted for carrying out the President’s directive”.

Continuing, he added: “I have heard arguments of cases being thrown out by the courts over questionable prosecutorial powers of the DSS regarding some categories of cases including criminal cases. Without prejudice to the wisdom of the court on such judgements, they should not override the lawful investigative authority of the DSS.

Should there be need for prosecution in due course, these determinations would be appropriately evaluated and where/if necessary, appropriate prosecutorial agencies which may include the Attorney General’s Office or other sister agencies may be deployed to prosecute. It is not the first time this has happened”.

Let it be clear, however, that the DSS will remain unshaken and professional in carrying out its duties. It recommits to diligently operate, as always, within the confines of the law and to uphold the fundamental rights of all Nigerians.

The media must, as the fifth estate of the realm, remain balanced, accurate, impartial and accountable. To sustain a deliberate misguidance of the public with any form of misconceptions is detrimental to nationhood.

Therefore, to deepen the expected contributions, seeking veracity is not only ethical but obligatory. That should not be asking for too much.

Police Versus Seun Kuti: Persecution In Prosecution

By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN

The unexpected happened last week, even from those who are expected to know. Without mincing words, Nigerians rose up in condemnation of the action of Afrobeat star, Seun Kuti, for assaulting a police officer in uniform, although the nature of his duty has not been ascertained till date.

It has now transpired that the police officer was an official driver with the Nigeria Police Force, he was reportedly drunk and driving dangerously on the expressway in such a manner that constituted danger to Seun and other motorists, leading to the incident that led to Seun’s incarceration.

As stated by my humble self and other Nigerians, nothing could justify the reaction of Seun in the circumstance of what we watched in the video. But all these have now become a thing of the past. As expected of any responsible citizen, Seun surrendered himself to the police, in the company of his counsel, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

We watched with shock how the police bungled that encounter, by filming Seun in handcuffs and parading him on social media, for a simple offence that was bailable. He was promptly transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department and denied bail. He has now been charged to court.

There are several lessons for Nigerians from this avoidable episode. The verbal and physical attack on the policeman by Seun is typical of what some policemen go through in the hands of VIPs. The manner in which the police authorities have turned the case into personal vendetta is typical of what most Nigerians go through in the hands of the police.

For very simple and bailable offences, the police magnify them beyond comprehension, purely for the purpose of extortion. Bail is denied and the facts are twisted in such a manner as to prolong the misery and agony of the defendant, all meant to secure a remand order or detention by all means necessary.

The usual refrain from the police to the court would be that the investigation was still ongoing or that the defendant constitutes a flight risk. In this case, it was reported that the police claimed that the officer who was assaulted and who we saw live in the video, was in a coma in an undisclosed hospital.

This would then compel the court to grant bail under very stringent conditions by demanding for a level 17 officer with land and property within jurisdiction, to be confirmed from the Land Registry and the addresses of the sureties to be verified by the prosecution.

With these conditions, the defendant would certainly remain in custody for well over two weeks at the minimum. This is the sordid situation of the administration of justice in Nigeria. In extreme cases, such a defendant may remain in custody for years, without trial.

The case file could be lost, between the police and the office of the Director of Public Prosecution, the Investigating Police Officer could be dead or transferred out of jurisdiction, or he could be on official assignment, has gone for some training or has retired. Common cases of disputes between landlord and tenant, husband and wife and even business partners, end up in this way.

What is the strategy of the police in this case? Mainly to keep Seun in custody for as long as possible. And this is the bane of the criminal justice system in Nigeria, to the extent that law enforcement agencies take prosecution as some kind of vendetta on behalf of the nominal complainant.

The energy spent in opposing bail for the defendant by the prosecuting agencies is unnecessary and in most cases it would drain them of the steam needed for the main case. Either with the EFCC, ICPC, NDLEA, Customs, Immigration and indeed the police, the emphasis is always on keeping the defendant in custody pending trial.

This is because of the stigma that society attaches to those who have been remanded in custody culturally. It is the same scenario that is playing out in Seun’s case. Law enforcement agencies should stop deploying criminal trials as instruments of oppression or punishment, so long as our law still dictates that every citizen charged with a criminal offence is presumed innocent until the contrary is proved.

After a defendant has voluntarily surrendered himself to the police in a matter that does not carry the maximum penalty, that defendant has no business sleeping in the police station. He should be admitted to bail by the police on self-recognisance. It is illogical that a person who surrenders himself to the police will at the same time escape his trial subsequently.

It was therefore an overkill, for the police to have opposed bail in court, after illegally parading Seun before the whole world in handcuffs and denying him administrative bail. And this has in turn raised several issues. Why would the police seek to remand a defendant in prison custody for twenty-one days after a charge has been disclosed? Is there some merit in the case of the defendant?

Seun is not a mad man and he would not just block a policeman on the expressway without some reasonable cause. In this case, Seun has alleged that the policeman was drunk and was driving in such a reckless manner as to constitute a threat to him and his family. Even though we have all stated that such allegation will not be a justification for Seun’s action against the policeman, deploying that for the purpose of securing his permanent incarceration is uncharitable on the part of the police, to the extent that a Senior Advocate of Nigeria was flown into Lagos from Abuja for this purpose.

Personally, I had thought that the involvement of the Learned Senior Counsel for the police would bring some sanity into the prosecution, such as for instance bringing the parties together to explore the possibility of settlement.

As it has now turned out, the police should not have been involved in the prosecution of this case at all, given that the charge revolves around a police officer. The element of bias has so much played out against the police that the most reasonable thing to do for now is to take away the case from the police. No prosecuting agency should be allowed to turn prosecution into persecution as is being done in this case. The report is out in the media that the police visited Seun’s house to conduct a search and proceeded to traumatize his wife, his lawful tenant and even his neighbours.

That was totally unnecessary, in the circumstances of this case. It was also reported that an attempt was made by the police to obtain the blood samples of Seun for some other laboratory tests totally unconnected with the charge in court. What this has shown is that it is possible for the police to manufacture evidence just to nail Seun, given the desperation that has been exhibited so far, meaning that the police cannot be trusted to handle this case with the required objectivity.

It is against our laws for a man to be a judge in his own cause. In this case, the police being the complainant and the investigator, they should not be allowed to handle the prosecution as that will be unfair to Seun. The slapping alone cannot be the reason for the excessive actions of the police against Seun, unless there are other undercurrents not known to the general public.

I urge my Learned Brother Silk, Mr. Simon Lough, to use his good offices to bring the parties in this case to a roundtable. Nigerians rose in unison to condemn Seun’s unjustified attack on the policeman and the law has been deployed to arrest the situation. I do not think that there is anything else to be gained in the perpetual remand of the defendant in this case.

Having been made to come to terms with the gravity of his misconduct, Seun should be allowed to offer an apology to the policeman, the police authorities and indeed the people of Nigeria and if there be any reason for such, to offer modest compensation to the officer.

If this cannot be achieved in the immediate time, then the Honourable Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, should exercise his powers under the Constitution and the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State, to take over the prosecution of this case from the police, to avoid a miscarriage of justice.

The present plight of Seun is the lot of suspects who find themselves in police stations all over Nigeria. I am in the midst of it to know. Law enforcement agencies should not create the impression of hostility such as would make citizens dread visiting police stations. We should not use the instruments of authority to terrorize or traumatize our people, or else it will get to the point whereby casual invitations to the police will become difficult to honour.

Furthermore, we must address judicial interventions in the system of administration of justice. Unfortunately, the courts are too mechanical in dealing with cases such that once a defendant appears in court, you can be sure he is going to be remanded. It should not be the case that a defendant who voluntarily surrenders himself to the police should still end up in custody.

Something is wrong with such a system that does not recognize the cooperation that the defendant has extended to the State. Where such a defendant is unable to perfect the conditions of his bail immediately, he should be handed over to his solicitors pending compliance. It is not in doubt that the police have squandered the goodwill and sympathy of Nigerians in the manner in which they have handled this case.