Barr. Kayode Bankole
Some Chief Judges Are Confused As To What Their Roles Should Be -Bankole
Barrister Kayode Bankole has been practicing law for almost 30 years. Formerly of Kayode Bankole and Associates and currently a Senior Partner in Smith & Bankole Legal Practitioners. Bankole has carved a niche for himself in the area of land and property laws where he stands shoulder high among his colleagues. He opened the floodgate, blazed the trail by challenging the Land Use Decree of the military government, and created a precedent, which has adorned law reference materials in Nigeria. In this interview with newsdishng.com, Bankole counseled JUSUN members on what to do for governors to grant the much-needed autonomy to the Judiciary. He also talked about the recent controversy between the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and a Baptist school over examination fees. Excerpts
Judiciary workers under the auspices of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) have been clamouring for financial autonomy for judiciary. What is your take this issue?
Well, in any democratic setting, autonomy of Judiciary is given as something that is corollary to democratic practices. It is also enshrined in the Nigeria constitution, but here in Nigeria, it remains a tantalizing illusion to be pursued.
You will recall that in 2013 both JUSUN and Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN had, in their respective suits, dragged the federal government, state governments to court over the non-affirmation of the constitutional provisions on fiscal autonomy for the judiciary. In their respective considered judgments, the courts ruled in favour of both JUSUN and Agbakoba, to wit, that the federal and states governments should obey the constitutional provisions and grant financial autonomy to the judiciary. Yet, these judgements have not been obeyed. What is your take on this?
It is unfortunate that in Nigeria. As I said before, the governors ought to have be sanctioned. Apart from the express provision of the Constitution, there were court judgments and there are no appeals against these judgements. Something less than this in a civilized country would have make the governors to be removed from the office. But, here in Nigeria, the legislators have compromised. The legislators have remain toothless bulldogs that can only bark but not bite. In fact, only few of the legislators that can even attempt to bark but largely, they are toothless, they can only bark.
Don’t you think that some Chief Judges of the States have been compromised when they collect exotic Jeeps from governors?
You have a point, because some of the Chief Judges are confused as to what their roles should be. Ordinarily, they should not even collect such from the governors. They should have insisted that the provision of the Constitution should be followed. For any car bought for the judges, it should be from the consolidated revenue account that is deposited in the account of the Chief Judges’ office.
For the renovation of judges’ office or even the courts, the Chief Judges ought to have insisted that such money must come from consolidated account to their office. They do not have business with the governors. The situation is unfortunate.
Do you agree with some people that State High Courts will hardly give judgment against the state government, because judges receive gifts from them?
Our courts have been giving judgments against the State governments, army and State functionaries, but when you are to implement these judgments, you will need the fiat of the Attorney-General (AG) who is an appointee of the governors. That is an anomaly and that is the reason why the police are doing what they are doing, ditto the army, ditto other government officials. However, in a normal clime, in a civilized clime, you do not need AG’s fiat to execute a judgment. Everything goes there in judiciary, the bailiff section; the sheriff section and others are there, why do you need AG’s fiat?
Judiciary workers have been on strike for almost a month over this autonomy and the Governors are not shifting ground. Don’t you think JUSUN should think of another strategy?
JUSUN have to become a little creative. I support everything they have been doing but it just that they are not strategic enough. I will advise them to find an excuse to suspend this strike and then impose it when the next election is coming. It is a strategy. You strike when the iron is red-hot, so that a very good in-depth damage would be done. Now the governors are just laughing. If the current strike action had been carried out during election, time and during primaries let us see if the governors will not dance to the tunes of judiciary.
Recently, there was a controversy between the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and Baptist Schools. Do you think Baptist convention should sue JAMB registrar?
Nigerian Baptist is a well-grounded organisation. It has been in education business for over 160 years. That was even before Prof. Oloyede’s teachers ever thought of going to school. The Nigerian Baptist Convention has never claimed to be a public funded institution. It is on record that the Nigerian Baptist schools have produced the best results in the whole of West Africa, and by this I mean, Oritamefa Baptist School in Ibadan. When you check other schools and their results, you appreciate that Baptist High school; Reagan Memorial and others have best results. Taking Oloyede to court, will make him to achieve his aim, and what is his aim? To distract the members of the public from the incompetence of his employers and the increase level of insecurity in the country.
Oloyede knows what he is doing; he is working for his paymasters, to distract the public from concentrating from the issue of insecurity that has threatening the existence of virtually all Nigerians. We will not assist him to do that. Already he had burgled the whole thing. The denomination he decided to take on is a denomination that is well grounded in the business of providing quality education. Their products are some of best anywhere in the world and you are now querying them for extra efforts that are lawful to assist their candidates to come out successfully in their examination. Oloyede has failed. He would leave there in few years and sanity will return to that place.