Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, elderstatesman and Second Republic presidential liaison officer to former President Shehu Shagari in this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, speaks on the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), debate on a new constitution for the country and other issues. Excerpts:
Several groups have been calling for the speedy trial of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu while others are also asking that he should be given a fair trial and he shouldn’t be denied access to his lawyers. What is your reaction to the issues surrounding his arrest?
I am not the Attorney-General of the Federation. That issue is left for the Attorney-General to decide but we should realise that you don’t jump bail in any country of the world and expect that nothing will happen to you. When you jump bail, they will arrest you. Bail is very sacrosanct and so, you don’t jump it. If you jump bail, they will look for you for 10, 20, 30 years until they get you. They will distribute your name, pictures, blood group across other countries through their embassies and so on. It is not only Nigerian security agencies that will arrest you. If you are in Germany, the German police can arrest you if your name was sent to them that you jumped bail in your country and you fled to Germany. The same applies to other countries the person who jumped bail may flee to.
There is what they call INTERPOL, Internal Police Organisation. They liaise with one another all over the world. If they are looking for somebody, all they need to do is to inform the headquarters of Interpol with all the person’s particulars such as pictures, birth certificates and so on. They will then distribute it to all the embassies. The embassies will send to INTERPOL which has offices in all countries and their staff. When they get this information, they will begin to investigate. Once you put up in a hotel, you have to register your details with the hotel. The information you fill will then be sent to those who are already looking for you. So, it is not just about Nigeria, it is for all the nations in the world. INTERPOL is just like United Nation , they are a creation of the United Nation. So, when a nation is going to be a member of the United Nation, such a nation will sign an agreement that it will abide by their rules and regulations.
What about the excuse Nnamdi Kanu gave that he never wanted to jump bail but had to flee to avoid being killed when security agencies invaded his house in the village?
That is for the court to decide, it is not for you and me to decide. It is the court that will say whether the reasons he gave for jumping bail is genuine or not. When the security agencies when to his village, he absconded. It was after he ran away and they couldn’t get him that they continued to look for him until his arrest now. Before the bail was granted, there is an undertaking which he signed that whenever the court wants him to appear, he will do so. But now when the time comes, he did not do so. So, they began to look for him everywhere. But right now, it is for the court to decide on the matter especially on the excuse he gave for jumping bail.
Some Nigerians have been calling for the adoption of the 1963 Constitution. Are you in support of this idea?
Certainly, we cannot go back to 1963, but I would prefer a modified version of the system which we operated in 1963. The present six geo-political zones should be constituted and designated as regions. The current 36 states should be retained as the third tier of government. The local governments should be abolished and their responsibilities should be transferred to their states and arrangements should be made to fund the regional structure with the local government funds and the balance should be retained by their respective states. I would prefer a president who would be elected through the Electoral College of legislators and a prime minister. Where the president comes from the North, the prime minister should come from the South. Similarly, when the president comes from the South, the prime minister should be from the North. If you recall, the British colonial masters governed the North and South separately for some years before the amalgamation of 1914 that gave birth to Nigeria. This would take cognizance of the distinct identities and peculiarities of the North and South. The point I am making is, even though we currently have 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), we still see ourselves as North and South. This arrangement will give each side a sense of belonging
Source:- Independent Ng