From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri

Elder statesman, Chief Mike Ahamba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, is courageous and blunt when it comes to issues affecting the nation. In this interview, he speaks on the alleged corruption in the legal practice, insecurity in Nigeria, expectations of people  in his state, Imo, and other issues.

How do you see the myriad of problems confronting the nation now and what are the causes?

It’s apparent everywhere, I don’t have to describe it, there is problem everywhere in everything. It’s affecting everybody, the man in the street, the lawyers, the judges, doctors, civil servants. Just like somebody said a long time ago, a government is as good as the nation it represents. Since APC came to power at all levels of the country, we have not known comfort and peace, this question of bandits or you call them terrorists or you label them anything or secessionists, they were not there before APC came to power. APC is made up of Nigerians, they should sit back and ask themselves, what have we done wrong that has initiated all these things. I’ve always told people that political parties are masquerades wore by human beings, so if you’re looking at political parties when you’re voting, you’re making a terrible mistake, look at the person wearing the masquerade, and you can only guess the way it will dance by looking at the feet and not the face. People don’t understand that a lot of things control them, number one is naira and kobo, if you say you’re poor, you can’t be rich by allowing things that will make you poorer to happen.

But what’s the way out of these issues?

For those whose electoral processes have come to conclusion, what it means now is to wait for the next election, for those who are still at the tribunals, we can only hope that God in his infinite mercies will touch the heart of the judges to start the rebuilding and the recreation of Nigeria from that end by judging very well according to the law. There’s nobody in this country who is not suffering, no matter your level; you’re suffering because if you have a household of 20 people, you cannot fail to give some three meals and some two meals, you find out that your money finishes at the end of the day, so everybody is suffering, APC people are suffering too. I’m better off than most of them.

You talked about hoping on the judges earlier and so many people have been expressing doubt in the judicial system, do you think people should still have hope in Nigeria’s judiciary?

The judiciary remains our last hope, let those who are after the judiciary tell us the alternative, if I can tell you, the alternative is anarchy, this is a dangerous time, we just have to keep praying for members of the judiciary, that those of them who are bad may change, not all of them are bad; we have received some good judgments from there and then, people should stop discussing what they don’t know. A lot of people now discuss the constitution without seeing the cover, let alone the inside, so what they expect may not happen; as far as I’m concerned, when an issue comes to my table, I don’t remember that I’m a member of a political party, I have a duty to follow the law as I was trained to do. Let those who are professional politicians do their politics, once it comes to my table, I’m doing my law. So, if you want to condemn what the judge has said, condemn it based on the law you know not the one you don’t know, because there are certain things they have condemned which I agree one of them was political ruling. Abuja, the FCT should be a qualification to being a president of Nigeria, I don’t agree because once the Supreme Court rules on that line, same people shouting that it should be so would begin to cry. They’re certain things which they have done which are correct and there are some which I do not agree, well they’re not final because they’re infallible, they’re infallible because they’re final; they’re human beings; they’re bound to make mistakes. When I criticise judgement, I criticise it based on what they say and the law, so why destroy an institution? When you see a team on television, when they win, they come out to say, judiciary is the last hope of the common man; when they lose, the judiciary is no longer the last hope of the common man, we can’t build our country on that line. So, I still believe that the only answer is the judiciary, we shall keep pushing and praying until they get it right.

The media has been awash with the controversy of alleged budget padding in the National Assembly, what’s your reaction to the episode?

This is not the first time we’ve heard about budget padding; it has always happened. The question is this, why would they punish Ningi (Sen. Abdul) without hearing him; the right thing to do is to form a committee and listen to this young man and know whether he’s right or wrong, they’ve suspended him from the assembly, has that closed the issue? Apart from Ningi, what about those they said received one million Naira constituency allowance, some said they received only three hundred thousand, is that equity? A lot of things are happening there and that goes to mirror down the type of people we’re putting there.

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As it comes to the turn of Owerri zone to produce the next governor of Imo State, it’s being rumoured that much pressure is being mounted on Emeka Ihedioha to join Labour Party, do you think he should succumb?

Let him join whichever party he wants, he has never told us in the PDP that he’s leaving; he has the right to leave, but let him remember that Labour Party was a child of circumstance, for me, I’m not leaving PDP.

Do you think PDP can reclaim power in Imo State in 2028?

I’m not saying it won’t get to power in 2024 because the petition is not too late, until the position is through; you can’t conclude what would happen, let me tell you, there is a book I’m writing, election begins with registration of voters; it ends with election petitions, so until after election petitions, I don’t even congratulate anybody. I’ve never congratulated anybody before the case we had in court have been concluded.

Do you think Owerri zone is ready to take the mantle of leadership from Governor Hope Uzodimma?

They’ve not surrendered the present mantle, why are you talking about taking over? I know that Samuel Anyanwu is in the tribunal, let him come out from the tribunal first, if he loses, we shake his hands and tell him he has tried; if he wins also, we back him to continue, then in 2028, we would be talking about the tenure and not taking over, you cannot say what would happen right now, I don’t like to speculate.

How do you see the insecurity in the country?

It’s very alarming, nobody is safe and all those who react simultaneously should always be concerned with the consequences. The Igbo man says that a man who does not know who can beat him is still a child, so no matter what these people who are in uniform who have arms do, you don’t go after them in reprisal, you go to their headquarters and complain because if you do after taking Mkpurumiri (methamphetamine), they come back for reprisal attack, and kill innocent citizens. They’re trained to kill; like Zik said, only a mad man would argue with a man with a gun.

So, the type of sorrow coming out of that place (Okuama, Delta State) and stories that they were invited, because they have done something people don’t like, why? We don’t know the fact yet. It also calls for proper commission of inquiry to look into what happened, killing of 14 soldiers and destruction of property is not something we can tolerate. Children are being taken away, I now asked, were they stuffed into bags, how did they carry them and nobody knew where they were going and I heard another 78 were taken somewhere.

Where are we heading to, is that a solution to anybody’s problem? It’s not, even those who want forty trillion to be sent to them, that’s not the solution. If you get the type of money, you will eat hiding in the bush, then you have no money. For me, I will never have the type of money I can’t relax with my kinsmen and enjoy without being afraid of being arrested. I’ve never tried to earn that type of money and I’ve groomed my son not to earn that either, that way you can leave your gate open.