African Mirrow interview with Barrister Kish Adamu, the former Attorney General for Kaduna State
By: Niyi Adebayo
Barrister Kish Adamu, the former Attorney General for Kaduna State answered some tough questions during an exclusive interview with African Mirror during his recent trip to the U.S.
Q: Could you please tell us why you are in the U.S at this point in time?
A: I came for a few reasons, which are to attend some business meetings, to rest and also use the opportunity to see my doctor, whom I have been seeing for over 15 years now.
Q: You were the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice for Kaduna state. What remarkable achievements could be credited to the administration under which you served?
A: I served under Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa between 2011 and 2012. The major achievement then, I can say, was being able to unite the people of Kaduna state. The governor had 3 things in mind: Uniting the people, securing the peace in the state and developing the state’s infrastructures. The administration worked very hard to unite the people. Remember we came into power at a very difficult time in the state. There had been the post-presidential election violence in the state, so, managing the crisis at the time, required a lot of wisdom and the administration did quite well in doing that. The administration set up the Peace and Reconciliation Committee to look into the ….the committee came up with a beautiful report, part of which the current administration is now implementing. I can also say that we ran an efficient government and the resources of the state were well utilized. Part of the challenges was that the state revenue had gone low at that time. In spite of this, we were still able to award contract for the construction of about 28 roads across the state and we also put in place some strategies for increasing the state’s internally generated revenues. Some of those projects were almost completed before the untimely death of the governor on December 15, 2012, which brought a lot of set back.
Q: What specific achievements could be credited to you as the state’s attorney general?
A: The first thing we did was to work on how to improve the welfare of the staff of the state’s Ministry of Justice. We worked on how to meet their needs and make them more efficient. We set up a case tracking and document managing system. We gave laptops to every lawyer in the ministry to enable them have access to information faster and at the touch of the button. When I got in, I was told the ministry was generating about 3 million maximum in a year. But when I got in the first year, we made about 50 million and by the second year, the revenue increased to about 300 million. To ensure transparency and accountability, we also put a system in place that made all the money generated to go straight to the government treasury, not the ministry’s purse. At the ministry, all we did was the paperwork. We set up the Department of Citizens Rights to protect the rights of every citizen in the state. We put in place a system to help fast-track cases to avoid delays. We ensured the independence of the state’s judiciary to enable them carry their duties without fear or favor.
Q: I read somewhere that you once demonstrated against the government in which you were serving at a time. What does that say about your personality?
A: I have always been an activist in terms of orientation, so when an issue involves human lives, where people are killed or injured, it is no longer a partisan issue to me. When the government under which I served was elected, the duty given to us was to protect the lives of the people of Kaduna state. Everything I do, is according to my conscience, so, it was natural for me to protest and demonstrate, when and where I see injustice.
Q: If you were to rate the current administration led by Governor El Rufai on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, what would you score the administration?
A: I’d rather leave the assessment of El Rufai’s administration to the electorate and the citizens of Kaduna state. Let the people of the state go round and see if their quality of lives has improved or deteriorated, since El Rufai got into office. Can they go to bed with their 2 eyes closed? The governor himself said there were more homicides now than before and that as a matter of fact, he said on the national television that the homicides were even under reported. Now, people are killed, maimed and kidnapped every day. Another dimension to this is the victimization of the political opponents of Governor El Rufai. For instance, few days ago, a house owned by one of the governor’s political opponents in the state was demolished by the government agents reportedly led by the governor himself. What we have in Kaduna is tyranny headed by El Rufai, there is no pretense about democracy in the state. If you oppose the governor, you do so at certain risks.
Q: Is this purported tyrannical system of government peculiar to Governor El Rufai or do you consider it to be the ideological standpoint of his party, the All Progressive Congress?
A: There is an orientation in APC that generally tends towards tyranny and lack of respect for the rule of law. This orientation, I believe, is condoned by President Buhari, because he too is a tyrant. For instance, the federal government locked up people they arrested, there were judges, whose houses were raided at nights, all in the guise of anti corruption. No eveidence found against some of the judges, but their reputation has been damaged completely. We have someone like Sambo Dasuki, who was arrested for very serious crime, was charged to court, but till today, he has not been released. We had Nnamdi Kanu, who though, has said a lot of things I am not happy with. The courts made certain proclamations on the matter and yet the government has refused to honor that. We see all kinds of impunity at the federal level, which we also see in Kaduna state. For example, the court ruled that some teachers should not be dismissed only for the governor to say that he had already done that. I agree there are lots of wonderful people in APC, but the party still tends towards tyranny. Till date the party has not been able to hold their national conventions for more than 3 years for this reason. This is the manifestation of the kind of leadership at the top. Even, PDP had conventions, when they were in crisis.
Q: You were linked to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up to look into the 2011 post-presidential elections crisis. The commission indicted the then presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari, as one of those causing the crisis.
A: What really happened was that I was a counsel (in my private capacity) to some of the parties involved in the commission and immediately I sensed that I was going to be appointed into the state cabinet, I withdrew and recused myself. That commission eventually came up with a report, which they submitted to the government and by that time, I had become the state’s attorney general. As result of this, we had to come up with a white paper and I had to implement some of the recommendations of the commission, one of which stipulated that people who were indicted should be arrested and investigated. For being indicted, Buhari ought to have been arrested, but I decided not to do that. Reason was because for some public office holders, there are some decisions you may want to take that could haunt you for life. So, what we did was to ask the police to investigate the specific allegations made against different people, including Buhari, alleged to have instigated the crisis. We found some gaps in the report sent by the commission and insisted on fact-finding. A lot of recommendations in the report were not based on findings of facts, they were reported allegations. In the case of Buhari, there was a specific finding of facts as one of the people, who caused the crisis via his statements and actions, which were quoted in the report. We had to use our discretion to weigh our options to find out if arresting Buhari would resolve the crisis or escalate it at the time. Given the situation at the time, our government felt that arresting him would not solve the problem and our main goal was to bring peace by reconciling the people rather than taking actions that would look like vindictiveness or retaliation. Considering the fact that Buhari had a very violent support base, arresting him could have created more problems for the people.
Q: It’s being speculated that you are eyeing the No1 office in Kaduna state, is this true?
A: There is an outcry for a shift in leadership in the state and there have been lots of conversations around me. People have said I am young and I have a great disposition, exposure and the right skills and experience, having been at the legistlative and the executive arms of the government to run. But like I have told the people who asked me same question, the decision to run for the post of a state governor cannot be taken in a hurry. There are lots of things to be considered.
Q: What are your views on the incessant agitations for secession by some ethnic groups in Nigeria?
A: All the agitations are cries for social justice, once justice is entrenched, all of those cries would disappear.
Q: President Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina recently told us in an interview that his principal does not believe in the recommendations stipulated by the Confab held in 2014. What is your take on this?
A: Both the president and his spokesman’s position is a perverse position. It is a typical case of ‘bad belle.’ The opposition party held a confab that came up with recommendations that would help the country and the president said he has not even looked at the recommendations. But I am not surprised because I have been told that the president is not a reader. The government has not bothered to look at the report to determine if it is worth implementing. If you look at the APC report now, the recommendations are substantially, a photocopy of the 2014 confab recommendations, so, who is fooling who? Some have suggested that Buhari take a look at the report because the people, who gathered at the confab were some of the brightest and most patriotic Nigerians ever. Ignoring a report made by this caliber of people is very sad.