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We have a dysfunctional legal system – Prof. Ananaba

Prof. Paul Chibuike Ananaba (SAN) is a Professor of Law and the chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)’s Section on Public Interest and Development Law…

Prof. Paul Chibuike Ananaba (SAN) is a Professor of Law and the chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)’s Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL). In this interview, he speaks on the security situation in the country, SPIDEL and sundry issues. Excerpts:


What was the stage at which you met SPIDEL when you became chairman?

SPIDEL was moribund and nearly dead. So, we have to start SPIDEL from the scratch. And today we can give God the glory because SPIDEL is up and running.

There is forced holidays in the justice sector due to the JUSUN nationwide strike, shortly it will be time for the long vacation for judiciary, what is your take?

It’s a very sad situation. I have thought about it, we are gradually eroding confidence in the judiciary, you didn’t even get it, let us get it from the beginning. There was #EndSARS and further back to Covid-19 shut down. So, we moved from Covid-19 to vacation last year, to EndSARS, to Covid-19 again to strike. But we are heading again to Covid-19. So, why will we not worry about insecurity because we cannot approach the judiciary. As I speak to you if you have a cause to go to the courts, there is no court to go to. So, what do you expect the Nigerian to do? Take laws into his hands. Or the police become the law enforcement officers and the courts? Very sad.

Is the judiciary in crisis?

No. but the judiciary has not been handled properly. They do not have autonomy.

SPIDEL annual conference is around the corner and lawyers have great expectations for it. How prepared are you?

Conference to spotlight all the identifiable public issues and we have identified governors, senators, political leaders and civil society leaders to address us at the conference. What is lacking in Nigeria is public interest. With public interest in focus rather than self interest, Nigeria will start to experience real progress. Without security we cannot succeed, any country that lacks security, filled with spilling of blood, cannot succeed. And those blood are the blood of people created by God. God is not happy that his creation is being wasted away that way so part of what we are going to do is to look at the security situation and proffer workable solution.

Are you satisfied with the disciplinary mechanism within the NBA?

I am satisfied. We have the Rules in place but there is justice according to the law and there is justice of the law. It depends on which perspective you look at it. Check other professional bodies, their disciplinary committees are not working or they rarely work because it is when the profession is functional that you talk about discipline. In the last three months, we are not talking about discipline, we are talking about something else- how we will find food on the table.

The person to do the discipline is also a lawyer. These things are envisaged in a normal situation, a functional system. We have a dysfunctional legal system. Nothing is happening since March 2021. Then there is a new Rules of Professional Conduct and we are not too sure which one to apply and the procedure to engage. So, we have so much house keeping to do.

What are your expectations from the government?

No government would watch the insecurity situation without doing anything. The question is how much has been done?  Government should redouble its efforts and address the situation squarely. Other wise it will get to a situation where everyone is doing as they like.

What is your take on the current situation in the country?

The insecurity situation in this country is actually getting out of hand.  And of concern is the issue of bandits and hoodlums attacking police stations, army and security agencies. It is reprehensible and so bad, whatever has happened in this country, they should not attack security officials. These are human beings too who do not sleep while we sleep, they are on duty while we relax so that the country can be well. When you have not burnt down the police stations, we were having insecurity, what will now happen if you reduce the available ones.

I don’t think it is the right thing to do, I discourage it. I want every well-meaning Nigerian to speak and work against it so that security men and the police stations will be safe. I think that when someone is in distress, they will rather run to the police, now when you attack the police and there is nowhere to run to, what will Nigerians do?

What would you like to be remembered for as SPIDEL chairman?

Simple I came, I met the situation that was hopeless, by God’s help and the support of many of our colleagues, that dry bone has now turned to a living bone.