By Unini Chioma -August 10, 2019
Professor Itsejuwa Esanjumi Sagay, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), needs little or no introduction, having become a household name. As the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), he had been very outspoken against the ills of the society. In this interview with JOHN CHIKEZIE, he speaks on the raging crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly among sundry matters. Excerpts…
What is your take on the call for death penalty for rapists by some senators?
I agree with them. Rape, defilement, kidnapping and all those horrible forms of criminality have come to engulf and endanger us as a society. Anyone who rapes a woman or defiles a child should be sentenced to death. They deserve death.
With the large number of condemned inmates in prisons, and considering the fact that governors are not willing to sign death warrant, do you think death penalty would serve as solution or rather create another problem?
My view on this is that the states should review all cases of condemned inmates. And when the reviews are completed, those cases that are found to be unfair or oppressive on the convict, judgement should be reverted.
In other words, decisions should be reversed and the convicts be released. Usually, we find out that most of the criminal cases were sometimes unfair or oppressive, especially in excess of what it ought go have been.
But those who actually committed heinous crimes should be executed immediately. I remember a case in Edo State where a man actually poisoned the food of his own child just to spite his wife. And the child died.
The man was executed almost immediately. That sort of horrible crime deserves immediate execution and not a place in the prison. Although I am rethinking this issue of kidnapping, I think it should be made a life sentence and not death penalty. Insecurity has got to an alarming upsurge. How do you think we can truly curb this menace? We need a mass mobilisation of security agents and not any conference or meeting of stakeholders, that’s a waste of time.
Mass mobilisation on all the roads affected, because there are some specific routes which these criminals specialise on. Places like the Ore Road, Akure Road, Ekiti, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and all those roads that had been listed. And somehow, the Eastern parts have not been so badly affected.
There should be mass mobilization on all those roads that had been identified, such that police patrols would be a matter of every five minutes.
There should also be military checkpoints mounted on those areas.
Secondly, security agents should compose forces of heavily armed men, to go into the forests in all these areas and comb them. They should look for the camps of these criminals and destroy them, including any criminal they find.
Finally, I would appeal to Nigerians to stop ethicizing these rampages as just Fulani herdsmen. But Fulani herdsmen had been confirmed to be carrying arms. Aren’t they the culprits? I think we would be deceiving ourselves if we assume that only Fulani herdsmen are involved in kidnapping and banditry.
The menace is a general problem. You would be shocked to see that in some Yoruba areas, there are some Yorubas also involved in the act. So it is not a 100 percent Fulani thing. Let’s just say that they are criminals and should be hunted down vigorously. Let them be destroyed immediately and not even arrested. Maybe the police can arrest a few in order to get the statements on the whereabouts or locations of their colleagues.
Otherwise, I would say kill and destroy them because they don’t deserve to live.
Do you agree that the proposed Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA) is the best solution to the farmers/ herders clash?
I only support RUGA settlement on one condition, that any state where it would be established must give it’s consent. So, if a state disapproves of it, then you leave them to devise another method on their own accord, to tackle the issue.
For instance, those who have adopted state ranching. So only those sates who are willing and keen to have RUGA, should have it. Therefore, it must not be imposed on anybody.
What is your take on the Federal Government’s withdrawal of N25 million alleged fraud charges slammed against the former Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje?
Well, that is an area I am not yet familiar with the actual details and I intend calling the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu to find out.
But from the information I’ve read, especially from the statement released by Goje’s lawyers, the case against him was so wishy-washy that the state would have lost anyway. They said that there was no hope of them ever succeeding with the charges against him. And that there was no question of N25 billion anywhere.
It was a waste a time and that the state government realised it and saved its face by withdrawing it. So, it was in order to avoid any form of embarrassment, that the government withdrew the case.
These were his lawyer’s claims but I will cross check. If these claims were to be the true position, then what does this portend for the anti-graft war? Once there is suspicion, there should be investigation.
And when investigation had been conducted and there is evidence, there ought to be prosecution. Occasionally, our people (antigraft agencies) don’t wait for evidence to be strong enough before they prosecute.
And so you have those mistakes and errors. But training is going on continuously to improve the capacity and skills of our investigators and prosecutors. So, what Goje’s lawyers said is possible but one needs to check.
It’s just a possibility and I can’t say it is a certainty. What is your take on the crisis rocking Edo State House of Assembly? I must say it is a terrible development. Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki is a man I admire extremely well.
He is knowledgeable, hardworking and a great achiever.
But I think his reputation has suffered a setback by the way the assembly of the nine people were inaugurated. I will appeal to him, for the sake of his records and achievements, to take a second look at it. I will also appeal to the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, not to go there like a Spanish bull but as an elderstatesman, in a reconcilable manner, to bring parties together in order to arrive at a resolution, rather than taking sides and fighting.