Chief Adeniyi Akintola, SAN is a frontline legal practitioner. He was a governorship aspirant for Oyo State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the run up to the last general elections in Nigeria. It is arguable that his candidature would probably have made a lot of difference to the outcome of that governorship election but the rest, as they say, is now history. He had a chat with The Jurisconsult.
Do you think the Nigerian Bar Association is doing enough to defend the rule of law in Nigeria or what more do you think the NBA should be doing?
The NBA is certainly not doing enough. Many are only practising the media, the profession is now too media driven. Usoro (Pual Usoro, SAN, NBA President) is trying his best but he is not getting enough support. He called for Court boycott the other time but some people came out saying some other things, politicising the issue. But a bird does not fly with only one wing. During Buhari’s Military regime when he set up the Military Tribunals headed by soldiers but with Judges serving under them; the motion to boycott those Tribunals was moved at the Ibadan Bar branch level by Akeredolu (now Governor of Ondo State) seconded by Mr. Emmanuel Abiodun. It was that motion that was adopted at the national level. The Bar has to speak with one voice.
This is an election year for the Nigerian Bar Association. What type of leadership do you think lawyers should be going for with regard to the state of the rule of law in Nigeria?
The NBA requires professional leadership. The President should be a practising Lawyer. The person should command respect, not a bully but one who is accessible. He should be ready to keep to the tradition of the Bar. He should be bold and fearless, to be able to defend the Rule of the Law. He should not be a politician looking for political position.
You were a contestant for the NBA Presidency the last time it was the turn of the West. You are not contesting this time around and why Sir?
I am now an elder at the Bar. I am almost 20 years as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a Bencher for 28 years. Besides, I am now into partisan politics and it would be unfair for me to seek for this position again. My views would be regarded as biased.
The Egbe Amofin has adopted Dele Adesina, SAN as its preferred candidate. What is your comment about this?
I was part of the body that took that decision. As a leader in the Zone, I am bound to follow the decision. We considered the aspirants but Dele Adesina outclassed all of them. He also has nationwide appeal. As for Dr. Ajibade (Babatunde Ajibade, SAN), he is one of us. In fact, he has a better practice than most. We are still talking with him but the issues surrounding the choice of Adesina is being resolved and would be resolved.
What can you say about the congestion of cases, especially in the Supreme Court?
The best thing is to amend the Constitution. We had made this recommendation before, but it was jettisoned. I was part of that Constitutional Review Committee headed by JB Daudu, SAN (former President of the NBA) when Bankole (Dimeji Bankole) was Speaker of the House of Representatives. The issue for amendment is that many cases should not go to the Supreme Court. Divorce proceedings, chieftaincy disputes and land matters should all terminate at a local level. These have no business going to the Federal level. It is long overdue to unbundle the Supreme Court.
Has the APC abandoned restructuring?
The APC (All Progressives Congress) as a party has not abandoned restructuring. In fact, the party set up a Committee headed by Governor el Rufai of Kaduna State. Governor Akeredolu was part of that Committee. The Committee made recommendations on the matter. I believe the President will attend to the recommendations as the schedule of his many duties permit.