It’s a Temmy Balogun Blog’s Interview with an award-winning Nigerian Lawyer,Poet, Law Columnist and Public Speaker.
For several years Barrister Olumide Akindiya has made huge impact through his profession in Nigeria and international circles. He is a prolific writer who has published articles in different Nigerian newspapers and international Law journals.
In this insightful interview, Barrister Olumide explained different approaches to fighting corruption in Nigeria with facts drawn from legal books and the Nigerian constitution.
According to World Bank, corruption is the abuse of public power for private benefit.Corruption is also a transaction between private and public sector actors through which collective goods are illegitimately converted into private regarding payoffs.The main forms of corruption are bribery, embezzlement, fraud and extortion.
Nigeria’s incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari defined corruption as the greatest form of human right violation. According to Wikipedia,since the creation of modern public administration in the country, there have been cases of official misuse of funds and resources.The government has aimed at containing corruption through the enactment of laws and the enforcement of integrity systems, but success has been slow. As at 2012, Nigeria is estimated to have lost over $400 billion to corruption since independence.
One of Barrister Olumide’s internationally recognised poems is also featured in this interview. We hope this article correct the wrong perception every Nigerian reading this has towards corruption. Take a chill pill and enjoy as you read along….
Good day Barrister Olumide, It’s a pleasure meeting you sir.
1. Kindly tell us about yourself,ethnicity, family and education…
My names are Olumide Adegboyega Akindiya. l am a lawyer, poet, writer and a public speaker. l was a law columnist with Hallmark Newspaper with caption ‘Ask the Lawyer’ published every Tuesdays from June 10, 2014 to September 2015. l made 42 publications & 34 legal topics with legal issues. l speak at seminars, events, etc preaching about Law which i called Legal Orientation and also grant media interviews on it.
l have offered free legal services to poor people & some celebrities in Nigeria. At present, offering free legal advice to Oshodi residents. l have a law firm – Olumide Akindiya & Co., (Glory of God Chambers), Legal Practitioners, Corporate & Real Estate Consultants at No. 47, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Charity B/Stop, Orile-Oshodi, Lagos State. l am a Prince from lloka in lkole-Ekiti, Ekiti State, but born and grew up at Orile-Oshodi in Lagos.
l am the last born the only son with elder sisters from a christian home. My father died before i started my tertiary education but have my lovely mum alive and healthy. l graduated from Faculty of Law in Lagos State University, at Ojo,Lagos and Law School at Victoria Island. l was called to the Nigerian bar in 2009.
My column ‘Ask the Lawyer’ had to stop in September this year owing to the change of Hallmark Newspaper to Business Hallmark which brought about restructuring of what each page in the newspaper would entail. l pray to publish my legal writing & poetry this year.
2. You are a Legal Practitioner,Poet,Public Speaker,Law Columnist and more under your sleeve, tell us how you juggle all these and what led to your in interest in them?
One strategy i use to cope with all i do is effective time management and i also centralise all my potentials on law.
As a lawyer, i practise law with law firm management, l write on law, i speak about law, except if given specific assignment and motivational talks. My interest in law started from childhood when i had flair for mental argument, writing, drawing and love for Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN)’s efforts during military era. l could remember, i sneaked out during June 12 annulment of presidential election in 1993 to stay with people burning tyres on Apapa-Oshodi Express way at age of 13. l was passionate about arguing on different points even when i knew i was wrong then and a strong passion for justice, to contribute not only to governmental issues but also law profession.
So i started earlier in terms of law attachment, sitting inside court and starting my law firm.
My interesting in poetry started some years back , i have a unique style of writing as a lawyer which i published first in The Nations Newspaper in the year 2008.
My artistic qualities in philosophising about nature, society, human behaviour, stimulated my interest which has being an hobby from my junior secondary schools after my drawing in primary school which my dad stopped because it took all my time then.
My offering Literature as a subject nurtured the professional aspect of being a poet. l have two people who learnt poem from me then and one actually received award in his university days as a science undergraduate. My secretary at present without teaching him the rudiments of poetry had composed many poems since he typed some of my poems and he writes too with a science background.
Law requires research just like writing so i do research a lot.Public speaking was by recommendation and i noticed people listening to me when i speak, the same way when i am analysing issues. ln all, i feel fulfilled when i am doing all these without giving excuse – they are my 3 course meal!
3. You’re an independent Legal Practitioner ,tell us what stimulated your choice to work independently rather than being employed by a firm in need of your service?
l realised that starting my law firm would give me time to explore all my potentials. l want to handle clients with truth; do my law works without delay, except for delays caused by clients. Being independent is not about long years of practice, but how good one is in legal research, confidence, analysing reasoning, trial plan and the zeal to make a difference.
Working independently does not stop consultation from other law firms or individual lawyers for my law firm to jointly handle their clients’ briefs or solely handle it. At times, i represent seniors in court upon certain fees too. Thus, in our work, you cannot know all because it is very wide.
4. What are the challenges you’ve encountered so far as a Lawyer and how has it shaped your disposition about life?
l have faced a lot of challenges starting my law firm early. Wholly, the challenges are natural, economical, government policies and some unseen events. Natural in terms of finance to meet my huge dream in this law profession; establishing a standard library and big law firm with branches neds huge firm,some clients’attitudes, lack of truthfulness from clients, law practice is highly demanding, strenuous and being confidential strictly.
The economic situation affects law firm too as we hardly have power supply for one hour during working hours a day. Unseen events in terms of nature of the work as you are likely to step on toes; advocate for people while God is your own advocate. Also, we don’t do media advertisement or solicit for clients so it is mostly recommendation from clients, family, friends and loved ones. lt has shaped my life that one needs to rely only on God. Also, to concentrate on inner motivation, strong passion and one’s goal in life.
5. What does your job as a Lawyer entails? What’s your typical day like?
Lawyers’ job are on offering general legal services on areas of law like; court matters, corporate and commercial law, real estate law, labour law, intellectual property law, arbitration, maritime law and others. Some specialise on certain areas of law, many offer general legal services or works: litigation and Solicitorship: drafting different legal documents, legal advice, company retainership, company registration, etc.
l work on my office diary: it can be works that require going to court or paper work to be treated in office, attending company meetings, legal research, study and so forth.
6. Judging from the rate Law is studied in Nigeria,will you say it has so far helped contained the level of corruption in Nigeria?
lt is for the government arms , that is the legislature, executive and judiciary and its law enforcement agencies to curtail corruption. Before becoming judicial officials one have to practice as a Lawyer, but on the other side of the coin, lawyers should shun corruption too.
7. Corruption has so far being regarded as a major hindrance to Nigerian ‘s economy growth, as an experienced Legal Practitioner, Kindly share with us ways corruption can be tackled in Nigeria?
Corruption to me is any means of using ethnicity, favourism and nepotism to obtain what does not available to only one person at the detriment of others and laid down procedures in obtaining contracts, money, benefit, advantage, etc in government offices, organisations, communities and religious bodies. Corruption is a universal citizen in every nook and cranny so it can be reduced and not totally eradicated. l will offer short and rapid approach and long term approach to tackling corruption which falls more on government.
Short term and rapid approach are;
1. Upholding Chapter ll of the Nigerian Constitution on obligations of the government towards its citizens and sense of belonging to every human in Nigeria. By making it enforceable against them in court by Nigerians.
2. Stiffer punishment for corrupt related offences by amending relevant laws to act as deterrent to them.
3. Propagation of godliness from religious bodies. Although under Section 38 of the same Constitution gave Nigerians freedom of religion, we should be preaching against corruption to one another. Our religious leaders should not be corrupt and should shun excessive money without source.
4. Parental teachings on moral and discipline to their children which means they have to be live by example.
5. Public should not make government offices their bank and personal problem and later be complaining of social amenities; equal rights and opportunities, etc for all. See Section 17 of the same Constitution.
6. Teaching about corruption and its punishment in our schools.
Long term approach;
1. Viable economy and government policies. Section 16 of the same Constitution guarantees good economy for Nigerians.
2. Efficient and motivated security agencies with modernised security equipment to discharge their lawful duties in arresting, investigation and prosecution. E.g. Section 4 of the Police Act, 2004.
3. Creation of jobs and employment opportunities for all.
4. Standard education with self-employed courses e.g fashion designing, furniture, etc from secondary schools to higher institutions. So before any admission to any higher institution he is already self-employed and can decide whether to further. Section 18 of the same guarantees free education up to university. Life changing programmes and seminars too to be good personality conscious.
5. independence of judiciary, do substantial justice and speedy adjudication of criminal matters and not only corrupt-related offences. This is the one of the purpose of the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 too.
6. Stoppage of wastages of public funds and prosecution of corrupt offenders by EFCC and ICPC diligently.
lt should be noted Section 16, 17 & 18 contained in Chapter ll and are not enforceable until turned to fundamental rights to citizens like Chapter 1V of the same Constitution.
8. What keeps you going?
My visions, strong passion and fulfilment are what keps me going. The appreciation from where i didn’t expect too. Whatever a man sows, he will reap is an unforgettable sentence in my life.
More to Life
There is more to life
Than egocentric phase
Of the vicious.
Aso rock presupposes paradise
Which clicks to ears.
Treasures claim to be theirs.
Only to their caucus.
Dash hopes and existence
With no remorse.
There is more to life
Than wigs in macro garment.
Wig coiled like a wily goat.
Non-viable human foetus remorse.
Abortion! Moral and religious overdose,
Excuse she hands.
Human foetus’ right to life denied.
Pre-marital and extra-marital sex
Who will checkmate your excess?
There is more to life
Than empty wisdom of scientist.
Cloning humans, dead or alive.
There, their veins spring for work.
But where is life to give?
Cloning has become a name.
A pity, shall i say?
There is more to life.
A useless and inevitable gift.
With a face of good deed
And a hand of evil deed.
… More to life
I still hunt to decipher…
9. What’s your take on the current government’s approach to fighting corruption?
The government approach at the centre can be seen in the way EFCC and ICPC has sudden woken up from their epileptic sleep. EFCC particularly has been carrying public along, but my worry is pre-trial publicity which has made the public so emotional about investigation and pronouncement to let the suspect and defendant (those alleged of criminal offences) feel guilty already. The criminal trial of these accused is in court room and not the public court or on pages of newspaper because they have to prove their cases to either get conviction or discharge and acquittal of these accused persons. lf they fail, the public will indirectly blame the judge or defence counsel meanwhile they didn’t discharge their legal burden. There is presumption of innocence on the accused until proven guilty by law court. See 36(5) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended in 2011.
The War against Corruption is now on! Some are alleged of offences under ICPC Act, EFCC Act, Criminal laws, etc and investigation is still on so that there can be prima facie case against them because in criminal trial, the prosecution must prove his case beyond reasonable doubt. I refer to these cases: SGT. MONDAY YAKUBU V. THE STATE 2014 (2) LEDLR – 13; UMARU ADAMU V. THE STATE 2014 (4) LEDLR – 2 and Section 139 of the Evidence Act , 2011. Failure of prosecution to prove this, the effect is that it will be in favour of the accused person which is now known as defendant. See AJOSE V. STATE (2011) 6 NWLR (PT. 1259) 472 CA. The prosecution must also link the the defendant to the alleged offence as also confirmed by FANI KAYODE’S CASE, where the Federal High Court in Lagos held that there was no prima facie case against him as he could not be linked to the offence. ln essence, investigation and sufficient evidence are unavoidable keys so it is not to rush to court and fail but the public will not know this so it requires time too. For those who have been arraigned to court, the charges should not be too much but the ones they can prove the ingredients of the offences. Corruption lives with us and not only public holders, especially among public servants. We must all support the the President on this War against Corruption as corrupt people and looters are not resting but using different media against this government. We await the lists of looters by CBN as claimed in which i know members of ruling class who are there will also be prosecuted. As a lawyer, i have to give fair hearing to all parties and let the court determine the dispute according to evidence. Also, the due legal process should be followed without infringing on the defendants’ constitutional rights under Section 33 to 36 and 41 of the same Constitution and suspect’s rights under Section 6 and 8 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 to lead to delay by the defence counsel filing fundamental rights under Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009 on behalf of the defendant. Constitution is supreme and any act or law that is inconsistent with its provision is void by Section 1(1) and (3) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended in 2011 and . A.G ABIA STATE V. AG OF FEDERATION (2002) 6 NWLR (PT. 821) @ PG. 1. What i am saying in essence is that EFCC and other agencies and prosecutors should avoid loopholes within the law and act within the confines of the law because there is no sentiment, speculation or emotional feelings in law than for them to prove their cases tendering necessary evidence in court too. l refer to GROSVENOR CASINOS LTD. V. HALAOUI (2009) 8 CMLR 102 @ 114 SC. Similarly, the President should rather be saying “independence and impartiality of judiciary than saying some are corrupt” or calling for their support in fight against corruption. Judges are to be neutral and not descend to the arena of conflict by supporting prosecutor because doing so it will amount to being bias and taking side in seeing the defendant as criminal before trial.
Furthermore, government should continue blocking leakages for corruption through Treasury Single Act and BVN, these will stop ghost workers, those yahoo people on internet or cyber crime, wastages by various ministries because of lack of accountability by different accounts and spending solely and so forth. Lastly, they should use ministry of information, media, etc in orienting public on avoiding corruption. I believe, you understand my whole assessment of their approaches and legal advice on all these with requirements of our laws in criminal trial of accused.
10. Is there anything you would like to be changed in Nigerian Judiciary system? Would you say the Judiciary system is operated independently as stipulated in the constitution?
l will first appreciate judiciary for their efforts despite public perception of their roles. l want our Judicial system to be dynamic to adapt to changes in laws and acts; superior courts to ensure quick dispensation cases; continue their methods of reducing cases going to trial where unnecessary and do substantial justice between parties irrespective of status. Our judiciary should be totally independent financially since it is the third arm of government. From there, the other arms won’t indirectly influence them particularly, the executives. This is the change i look forward to one day.
11.Share with us some personal achievement(s ) you find impressive…
My achievements i can say, started from ability to further my education after my father’s demise to become a lawyer i told him i wanted to. My legal writings and poems on international websites. l have five awards to my credit in Lagos State, Abuja and Kaduna State with great personalities, companies, and celebrities e.g John Fashanu, Hon. Dakuku Peterside, Dr. Ibrahim, Coomassie, Access Bank, Don Jazzy, Davido, Alex Ekubo, etc. My first award was from community i grew up from, Oshodi CDA in Oshodi Local Government in Lagos containing 42 streets.
My 3rd and 4th awards was within a week in Abuja to Kaduna. So i have one award from community, one award from NGO and three awards from entertainment companies and industry.
My first public speaking on law on event was on my first award day while i have been speaking on media and wrote my column for one year and three month. Even advising people, i have never met and eulogy i have got from fans i can say. Titles of the awards are: Service Award; Barrister Award; Legal Personality of the Year; Entertainment Supporting Lawyer and lastly, Enterprising Legal Icon of the Year. All in 2015, another one coming before April as they have been updating me for months.
12. Your words to the aspiring and young Lawyers in Nigeria?
My advice to aspiring lawyer is to first discover themselves if they have natural attributes of a lawyer. To study hard in school and understand each course in law because law is practical. Philosophy and other non-law courses help law student.
To young lawyers, they should focus on self-intellectual growth and not concentration on money first. Money will come after the public can discover you are good and you add extra, quality legal services. Have vision on what you want in the law profession and what to add to the profession because is a noble, demanding and envious profession.
13. Kindly inspire a young African in one sentence…
Your potentials, discipline, sacrificed intellectual growth, planning and pursue your dream will take you far beyond you ever think of. Thank you.
For sharing this educative information with us.You can connect with Barrister Olumide through;
Telephone/Whatsapp : 07059949837/08024170400
Facebook: Akindiya Olumide
BB Pin: 7F6C81F8