By Uche Amunike
Today, I bring you the concluding part of my interview with one of Nigeria's foremost and celebrated lawyers, Kayode Ajulo, which was held in his intimidating office at Ministers Hill, Abuja. This legal giant cut his teeth as a Federal Attorney/ Legal Officer with the Chambers of the Attorney General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Justice, Nigeria. He was an Associate with the Litigation inclined firm of Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) & Co and also worked thereafter as Head of Chambers, Tunji Abayomi & Co, Abuja all before the age of 30.
At his youthful age, he has prosecuted several numbers of complex cases and has acted as an arbitrator and counsel for several notable clients and appointed as counsel severally by the Federal Government of Nigeria in several disputes both here in Nigeria and abroad. He assisted the Federal Government of Nigeria team of solicitors responsible for advisory, documentation, perfection of title and litigation in respect of the largest and most successful petroleum revenue development in the country.
Ajulo is also the holder of the prestigious honorary chieftaincy title, Maiyegun Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land and BAMOFINLEWE of Akure Kingdom in the Ondo state capital of Nigeria.
Kindly enjoy the concluding part of his views on the state of affairs in our country...
Let's talk about the insecurity in the country. What do you think the government should do to bring about a lasting solution to it?
I want to believe that the issue of insecurity is inevitable. Life itself is risky. When human beings live together, there must be issues of strife and struggles. This turn to fights and fights turn to war and you know, war is inevitable, just like the same way this security threat and strife is inevitable. What matters most is the ability of government to curtail it. No matter what you do or how much the government tries to curtail this criminality, it will still come but what matters most is the ability of the state apparatus to ensure that it is reduced. There are always criminals in the United Kingdom. When they perpetrate crimes, they'll be caught. That will deter them from committing such crimes again. In this country, you can do anything and get away with it once you have your way which encourages others to do it. Coming to the issue of insecurity, I see it as inevitable in the sense that in the Sub Saharan region, you can see the strife and war in Egypt. You can see what happened in Lybia, etc. Of course it caused migration. And where do you expect them to move to? While some people are moving towards the ocean to go to Europe and moving up North, some are passing down to the south by passing the Sahara, down to Zaire area and coming to Nigeria.
Of course we have green vegetation. Recently, there has been a lot of influx of migrants, both good and bad, moving into the country. It's sad that people do not want to take such allegations serious. As a student in University of Jos where I studied my first degree and a student leader, we had the opportunity to travel round the whole country, particularly the Northern side. I have been to the Seme Border and really traversed those areas. If you're going to Idiroko today, from Otta down to Seme Border, you'll meet about 15 road blocks of security- the Army, Immigration, Customs, Civil Defence, all in patrol that will stop you even before you get to the border. They will search you and throw a lot of questions before you get to the border and when you get to the border, you'll see that this is the border of Nigeria and Benin Republic. The problem is, as at the 90s, go to areas like Sokoto, IIela, Niger Republic, you won't see anything like that. It's like an all comers' affair. Everybody is moving to Nigeria freely. Not to talk of now, when there is strife, wars, famine and so on. They all see Nigeria as a Mess where their salvation will come from. The question is, have they ever been arrested? Those are the people we call herdsmen. They are virtually people that just left war torn areas. They know about guns. Sometimes they bring in all sorts of firearms into the country. What do you expect of them? You now see violence everywhere. People are being kidnapped. Even the president will come up and tell you that they are foreigners. Yes, they are foreigners, but what I want the president to tell us is that these are the measures that we are taking to ensure that we keep these foreigners from our territory. How can people be walking into the Nigerian nation and nobody is stopping them? As I speak, I know of some farms that the owner of the farm land is between Nigeria and one other country. Imagine a part of my farm being in Nigeria and the other part being in Niger Republic or Chad. It's so bad that it is no more a hidden issue. Migrants coming into Nigeria is as easy as someone going to the toilet to ease himself or herself, and you don't expect crime and criminality to prevail in our land? It is bound to. That's why I said it's inevitable. It is for the government and the agency of government in charge of all these to know how to control it. Most of the time in the United Kingdom, when I experience such in my arbitration cases, such questions are asked. 'Where are you going to? What are you going to do? How much do you have in your pocket?' That is the way it is done to police their country. But can it happen in Nigeria, particularly in the northern part? No. So, the government needs to sit up. The best thing to do as things stand now is to declare a state of emergency. If you tell some people about declaring a state of emergency, it is because of the way Obasanjo has made it to be that they have already bastardized that section, saying that the governor and everybody should go. But that's not the way it should be. Go and check the definition of state of emergency by that section of the constitution. Even, in times of famine, you can declare a state of emergency so that the government will now pay premium attention in order to eradicate it by facing the issue and dealing with it squarely. This present government should liase with the security know who are Nigerians and who are not. If the Commander-in-Chief can come out and give instructions about the people perpetrating these crimes like kidnapping and killings, within a short time, the paramilitary will listen to him and get to work by fishing them out.
So, let's look at the premise on which you founded the Egalitarian Mission. It believes in social justice. How do you assess the people of South Eastern Nigeria who have been crying out for being marginalized.
You know, when it comes to the South East, I want to believe that there are different types of marginalization. There's political marginalization. I want to believe that I deliberately chose not to get myself involved in such marginalization. I'm talking of people that cannot afford to feed themselves daily. You'll see hawkers that when you check the value of what they have on their tray, it's not up to N1000. That's the kind of people that should cry marginalization. This should be my source area and source of concern, but you can't do all. I'm talking about the downtrodden. Sometimes, I'm here in the office and I receive the call about a seized container load of goods. I don't render such service for anybody who can afford it. That is not Human Rights. I'm talking of the poorest of the poor when it comes to carrying out the vision of the Egalitarian mission.
Yes, part of our objectives is to promote the part of the rule of law says that the constitution talked about equal distribution of wealth, federal character, and the fact that nobody should be adjudged because of their tribe and so on. We talked about it but I don't want to go too deep on the issue of marginalization because at the end of the day, you realize that it is subjective. I always want to have an objective approach because as long as those in the south east are complaining about marginalization, even people in the north suffer worse marginalization than those in the south east even though you might not believe it. The Hausas are complaining so much about the Fulanis. The number of Fulani in this country are not up to ten million, whereas if you go to towns in the middle belt and towns like Kebbi, they call themselves the minority and you begin to ask yourself who should be talking about marginalization.
Go the south west, you'll be surprised to hear them say that those in Lagos are marginalizing those in Ibadan, Akure, Ekiti, Osun etc. Marginalization is everywhere and it depends on the way you look at it, even though some are more vocal than the others. Go to the North. It's now like a general consensus that the north are marginalizing those from the South South and the South East,You'll be asking the question but nobody is ready to talk about it. I wish u can visit the core north. Go to Sokoto, Kebbi. You'll be surprised. Go to Kaduna. You'll be shocked. You must have heard about Southern Kaduna and Zaria and hear about them screaming of being marginalized. It is all prone to controversy. It's like women screaming harassment by men but when you dig deeply, you'll realize that a lot of these women are a threat to the menfolk!
The Afenifere Leader, Pa Fasoranti's daughter was killed recently. What do you think about her death? Was it a calculated murder or was she just unlucky?
Investigations are still ongoing which is why I really do not want to dabble into this issue or make speculations. However, one thing i'm sure is that it is not an ethnic thing. People have already started adding some ethnic coloration to it. I don't want to believe that. Killings have been ongoing on a daily basis and I want us to see it as a crime that was committed and whosoever perpetrated it should be apprehended and punished. But now, to say it is caused by Igala, Fulani, Igbo or Hausa is not acceptable to me and I do not think Pa Fasoranti will even subscribe to that.
Let's talk about Kayode Ajulo as a person. You have carved out a niche for yourself and at a very young age. What's your driving force?
I'm not yet a Senior Advocate of Nigeria which means I haven't had it all, but one has to thank God. What matters most is for you to have a focus and know what you want. I've always wanted to be a lawyer right from childhood. So, the whole idea is, once you're diligent and you have passion and whatever you're doing is purpose driven, things will just keep on flowing and you just keep moving. It's like diamond. Once you see one, you'll want to grab it. So, turn yourself into a diamond and people will grab you. You make sure that you're inevitable and needed. I always tell all my lawyers in this office that once you are dispensable, then you're getting there because your clients will know that once they get to you, there would be solutions to their problems. You become a solution provider. The rest is easy.
Alright. Given your pedigree, do you have any intention of running for governorship in your state?
Let me be sincere with you. I want to believe that we all have dreams and the dream of every human being is to be a leader. If running for the governor of my state will make me a leader, yes. It's inherent. It's innate. I'm sure you agree, but the ability and how to get there is what's important. However, if the coast is clear, I'll go for it. But as of now, I want my law firm to be as solid as ever before dabbling into anything else.
Thank you for your time, Sir.
You’re welcome, Uche