By BARTHOLOMEW MADUKWE
Adesegun Ajibola (SAN) is a son of retired Judge of the International Court of Justice, at the Hague and former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Prince Bola Ajibola (SAN). He is the Principal Partner, Bola Ajibola & Co and member of Board of Trustees of the Islamic Movement for Africa (IMA). In this interview, Ajibola spoke on the National Conference Advisory committee among other issues.
Much have been said about corruption in the judiciary, do you think the fight against it is good enough?
Well, I think basically infrastructure in the judiciary needs more attention to be able to remove corruption in the judiciary. Our courts, most of them are not suitable and are not fit for the business of the day. They are small, the furnishing is sparse, the means of recording proceedings is poor- it should be electronically governed.
Our judiciary experts need to be trained in the use of modern day electronic gadgets, to be used in dispensing justice. It is not about just sitting down there and having long hands, wasting time and delaying proceedings, and recording it wrongly at times and then it becomes a problem. There is need for this e-system in our judicial system. I think that is one of the areas that must be looked into very seriously.
But looking at the issue of tendering electronically generated documents in court as evidence, like tendering photograph from the internet, how do you relate that to e-system that you just called for?
I think the new Evidence Act of 2011 has taken care of that to a large extent as to the admissibility of electronically generated evidence. It is a revolution which has tried to bring the method by which we tender evidence in court nearer the people, but there is still room for more improvement because technology is not a static thing, it keeps moving on everytime. You may have a computer today which could be system A, next week another one comes out that will be better than the initial one; it is just a new improvement.
We have to be more flexible and move with times, and adjust with the changes that technologies bring from time to time. If we are going to sit down and let things pass us by, then in the next twenty years we will remain where we are and technology will be ahead of us. So we need to keep on moving and reviewing our position from time to time. That is what we need to do.
As far as I am concern, we are not too far from the mark, in times of our law and the acceptability of generated evidence by electronic means.
What is your view on the planned national conference?
The need for dialogue cannot be overstated. The need for us to sit and discuss our way forward cannot be overemphasized. The fundamental issues begging for attention remain in place. Any form of opportunity to discuss these matters is most welcome. People can go there and ventilate their views, discuss it and trash it out. We can form and model an opinion that we can carry on from there.
It is not necessarily a forum where everything can be achieved, but at least it is one step forward through which we can try and actualize our objectives and the yearning and aspiration of our people, rather than assume that people are happy when they are really not. The structure of the country itself is shaking, so this is a good time for us to do so. Even though I am worried that it is so close to the election, but whatever they do, we will now have what we have than have nothing.
But some people have described the issue of national conference as a politically motivated agenda?
People will read meaning to everything in this world. If he (President Goodluck Jonathan), did not set up the committee to look at the mandate for National Conference, people will say it is a politically motivated agenda as well. He has done it now; they are saying it is so. Alright, whatever it may be, there is something that is in there. The thing in there is the merit for a forum for dialogue about problem that we need to be changed. Once we can achieve that, it would not matter whether it is politically motivated or otherwise.
Looking at the National Conference Advisory committee saddled with the responsibility to look at the mandate for the conference, what is your perception?
My perception is that I do not have any trust that I would have for anybody else, other than those people who are there now. If they took those people out and brought another set of people there, the same question will continue, but we must have somebody who is prepared to bail the cat. We must find somebody who is prepared to carry the project forward.
These are people who have accepted the responsibility. It is now expected of those of us who are expecting that much from them, to ensure that they carry out the assignment effectively and positively. We must monitor them, supervise them, guide them, direct them, make noise when it is necessary, to ensure that they do a good job. We cannot sit down at our homes and fold our arms as if we are watching football on the screen and then expect manna to come from heaven. It won’t happen that way.
We must see to it. As they say in legal palace “Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done”. Seeing it to done is to ensure that the necessary and correct things are done all the time. So in their own case, we should all participate in it in various forms. It could be by our opinion, support or media coverage. Any form of support that any Nigerian can give to ensure that they get the arrangement right is very welcomed.
The security challenges affecting parts of the north especially and Nigeria as a country, what is your view?
This is a very fundamental issue. It has been with us for quite a long time. I think it worsened now, with the advent of terrorism, kidnapping and armed robbery. Although the issue of armed robbery seems to be taking a back-stage position and replaced by kidnapping and terrorism. It is probably not better than armed robbery itself.
This a challenge. I think it is an issue which calls for the attention of all Nigerians. If we want our country to be secured, then we have the responsibility to assist those whose duty it is to do so to get it right. It is not by folding our hands and say there is police, Department of State Service, DSS or government- it is their duty, let us go and sleep and then they can do what they like.
We have to be vigilant and report something unusual to those people who need to know.