By Henry Ojelu
Mr. Kabir Akingbolu is a member of the Ekiti State Judicial Service Commission.
In this interview, he speaks on the monumental corruption perpetrated by governors through the disbursement of their security votes. He also shares his view on security challenges, revolution now protest and sundry issues.
Despite huge amount received by state governments as security vote, security challenges remain unabated. Do you think there is any justification for governors to continue to receive security votes?
The issue of security vote is corruption personified.
The constitution does not recognise it anywhere and there is no law of the land that recognise security vote.
It was just coined out from nowhere.
Now, the most dangerous trend about the whole issue is that each governor will determine his own security vote. Where do you see any country being run that way?
It is the state governor that will determine how much he want to collect on a monthly basis and when either the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, or Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, want to beam their searchlight on state finances, nobody talked about security vote.
The least a state governor collects as security vote in Nigeria at the moment is N300 million per month. As poor as Ekiti was under Fayose, it was N350 million monthly. That tells you that some other states can be collecting as high as N900 million per month.
So, when you look at some of these issues, you will begin to ask questions about who is deceiving who in this country? What the governors normally do from time to time is that when they collect the security vote, they will just give a small part of it to the Commissioner of Police and pocket the rest.
They don’t do anything with it. No government in Nigeria has ever come out to disclose how security vote was expended and questions were never asked by those that are expected to do so.
Why do you think it is difficult for the administration of President Buhari to fight the corruption associated with security votes’ allocation to governors?
Before we even go to the issue of corruption associated with security votes, generally, we must ask ourselves, is the government of the day truly fighting corruption?
How many cases has the EFCC won? We see the greatest of all offenders escaping justice.
We have seen someone who was convicted of stealing money running into several billions of naira that was given an option of N750, 000 fine.
You say you are fighting corruption, your language suggests it, but your body language abhors it.
A lot of people are in government and accusing fingers were pointed in their direction. Nothing has happened to them till date.
If these individuals were not questioned, how can the Buhari’s government
convinced people that it is fighting corruption? I don’t see this government fighting any corruption, not at all.
Are you in support of the creation of state police as a way of stemming the growing insecurity in the country?
I don’t think Nigeria is mature for state police. I want to liken the creation of state police to what is happening with the States Independent Electoral Commission, SIECs.
From the time SIECs has been conducting local government elections, have your heard that an opposition party was declared a winner anywhere?
The SIECs are under the firm control of state governors and that is why each time local government elections are held in any state, it is the governors’ parties that prevail.
So, if state police is created in Nigeria, the problem will be that another department of State Service will be created and this will be used to witch- hunt the opposition. I don’t think we are matured enough to operate state police. What I think we should do is to examine the challenges that are making the existing police structure ineffective.
One way of doing this is to ensure that what is due to every state command goes directly to their respective Commissioner of Police.
This will address the issue of paucity of funds at each command and better positioned the officers to render quality services to the people.
I believe with all these, we will have some sanity in the system. The solution to insecurity problems does not lie in creation of state police but making the one in existence to work effectively.
The legal tussle over the Osun state governorship election was recently resolved by the Supreme Court on ‘technical ground’ without any pronouncement on the conclusiveness or otherwise of the election and if INEC has powers to declare an election inconclusive. What is your take on this?
The All Progressive Congress, APC, has hinged its appeal against the Tribunal’s ruling which upheld Adeleke’s victory on procedural lapses and this is fundamental.
Even though majority decisions went the way of Senator Adeleke at the Tribunal, it was unfortunate that on the day evidence was given, one of judges who upheld Adeleke’s victory at the poll was absence. Majority of the Supreme Court Justices that sat on the matter believed that it was wrong for the Tribunal judge to pass judgment when he was not around on a particular day that evidence was given.
When this was decided, the apex court will no longer go into the merit of the case.
There was a procedural lapse which is very fundamental and this is what the Supreme Court looked at.
What is your reaction to the arrest of Sowore by the Federal Government?
The arrest of Sowore has different dimensions. One, if the arrest is based on the call for revolution in governance, revolution against corruption, revolution against incompetence and so on, I don’t think the government is right. This is because everyone has the right under the law to protest against a bad leader and against incompetence of the president and the soaring corruption in the country under this government.
The call for revolution is not peculiar to Nigeria. We have heard of Cuba Revolution, China Revolution, British and American Revolutions and so on.
So it is within the competence of an individual to protest against the government for any perceived wrong.
The right for individual to criticise the government has been recognised by our Superior Court long ago when Justice Olatawura declared that every person has a right to criticise the government on any bad policy and any leader who does not want to be criticised should get a scab of wool and block his ears so as not to listen to criticism because as long as the leaders continue to take decisions that affect the people, the people must criticise them.
That decision of Supreme Court outlawed law of sedition in Nigeria.
In this case, however, the question to ask is, are the elements of treason present? I think so, because looking at the law, especially sections 40 and 41 of the Criminal Code, one will see that except one applies emotions and sentiments, Sowore was not right. His choice of word was too strong and too direct that no reasonable and sensible government will fold its arms and watch the country burn in flames. Worse still, he threatened that all the security agencies such as DSS will cease to exist
This is a serious threat to the unity of Nigeria especially at this time that Nigeria is faced with internal strife, so if the government folds its arms in such a situation, it’s at their own peril.
Although, when President Buhari himself lost election in 2011, he said Nigerians should learn from the Egyptian revolution.
In Egypt then, people were on the streets for 18 days and they succeeded. Now that he is not allowing the revolution he once preached, your guesses are as good as mine.