Olanipekun Backs Govs’ Insistence on State Police, Judicial Autonomy
Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Wole Olanipekun, has thrown his weight behind the position being canvassed by governors that Nigeria must use the opportunity presented by constitution amendment to give the country a truly federal and democratic constitution.
Olanipekun predicted that the stalemate being experienced in the passage of the constitution amendment bill in some states, was due to governors’ insistence that state police and judicial autonomy should be approved for sub-national governments to stem the tide of insurgency, killings and kidnapping of Nigerians.
He expressed displeasure that Nigeria is the only democracy in the world that is resisting true federalism, which he described as an aberration and why Nigeria has refused to develop sustainably.
The senior lawyer spoke in his Ikere Ekiti country home on Saturday while presenting over N30 million cash gift to students, youths, aged and widows, to mark the 2022 edition of Wole Olanipekun Scholarship and Empowerment Schemes.
Olanipekun said: “We are having this stalemate in the constitution amendment because some governors expressed reservations that they will only accept the passage if state police is approved, which is something like state autonomy.
“I support the governors on this. Nigeria is the only country that practices democracy, where we have only one police formation being controlled from Abuja, and this is failing us, this is wronging the system.
“Let us look at our land mass from Calabar to Kaura Namoda, from Bayelsa to Borno, how can it be secured by only the federal police? Look at the size of the South-west, can it be policed by only federal police? Even in Lagos alone, it is wrong to have only one police formation.
“Let us look at London, it has London Metropolitan Police. Havard University alone has Havard University Police Department. Looking at all these, why are we different? Why are our people like this? Why are they failing to allow Nigeria to be fully federalised and democratised?
“Even in the legal profession, we are facing a lot of challenges that started under General Sanni Abacha’s era. Abacha took all the jurisdictional powers of the state high courts to the Federal High Courts through Decree 7 of 1994. That was the beginning of the problem we are facing today in Nigeria’s legal profession.
“The jurisdiction of the state high courts is subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal High Courts, even when the Federal High Courts were mere revenue courts. This is a jurisdictional fallacy, it can’t work and it has been failing us.
“The governors’ views were clear. They are not asking for what is utopian, but what ought to be under an ideal democratic situation. So, I align myself totally with the reservations of these governors.”
Olanipekun revealed that a total of 1,475 persons have benefited from the scholarship and empowerment schemes as at 2021, urged the youths and students to shun Internet fraud, kidnapping, ritual killing and other vices to safeguard their future.
He said that the schemes were conceptualised by him 26 years ago to vanish poverty, liberate the people and propel education among the children of the poor.
The legal icon urged the new Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, to place high premium priority on the development of the state’s infrastructure, education and internal security sectors by strengthening Amotekun corps to provide adequate security and rejuvenate the economy.
Oyebanji commended that the senior l awyer for the gesture, Governor Oyebanji, said he was thrilled by the schemes endowed by Olanipekun, promising to replicate similar scheme in his Ikogosi Ekiti countryhome to help humanity.
“Government can’t do it alone. I want to appeal to the people of means to help Ekiti to develop education. Whatever you do for humanity is the best. The achievements of any man are measured by the number of those who laugh when his name is mentioned.”
In his lecture titled “Education, Youth and Community Development,” a Professor of Botany, Prof. Dele Olowokudejo, stressed that Nigerian youth could be productive and shun vices if they are educationally and technically empowered by governments, corporate bodies and spirited individuals.