A lawyer, Mr Abdul Ganiy Bello, is an Ilorin-based legal practitioner of almost two decades experience. He speaks with TUNDE BUSARI on contemporary issues.
Kwara State carries State of Harmony sobriquet. Can you shed more light on why the state is so named?
It is true that Kwara is a State of Harmony as evidenced in the peaceful co-existence of its inhabitants. The state is made up of different ethnic groups which include Yoruba, Nupe, Baruba, Fulani, Hausa, Kanuri, Ekiti, Igbomina and Ibolos.And these distinct ethnic groups freely live together in peace and harmony. You can see what is meant through the word I just pronounced. No other word can convey the real meaning of the kind of relationship existing among these ethnic groups. They inter marry and do so many other things together without any form of suspicion or ill-feeling. I can tell you that this is the grace we enjoy in Kwara State, and we appreciate God for making it so. In terms of security, crime rate here is very low compared to what is obtainable in other states. We read newspapers and also listen to radio on what goes on in other states of the federation. We also give glory to almighty Allah for this another grace. That is one of the reasons workers that came here on transfer do not always want to leave. If they are eventually transferred, they settle their families here and return to visit and enjoy the environment with their families. Moving from one place to the other is easy here and relatively cheap. I mean the means of transport are available at affordable fares, making access to every part of the state easy. We thank God for making it so. It is not our making as I have said earlier.
Ilorin in particular is said to be Muslim dominated city. What is the relationship between Islamic faithful and their Christians counterparts?
This is another evidence of the harmony we are talking about.The relationship between the Muslims and the Christians are cordial and very encouraging. They practise their faith without hindrance or disturbance. There are many churches in Ilorin as we have Mosques too. If you drive round the city on a Sunday, you will confirm what I am talking about. Christians go to their different churches without molestation from any quarter. It is good to see them returning from churches clutching their Bible and walking home under a peaceful atmosphere. There is no chapter in Islam which encourages Muslims to foment trouble. Islam simply means peace, and every Muslim must promote peace in his or her environment. To cut the long story short, we have intermarriage between Muslims and Christians to underscore how civilized and God-fearing we are in Ilorin in particular and Kwara State as a whole. .
How does social life look life in Ilorin in particular?
The social life in Ilorin cannot be compared with that obtainable in Lagos or Ibadan, but to some extent, we have and experience meaningful social life here too, as we have many prominent Islamic song singers apart from the numerous Fuji musicians. There are decent relaxation joints where you can relax your nerves. Good hotels some of which you can find in Lagos and Abuja are operating here and doing well. Professional bodies and corporate organisations find it easy to pick Ilorin as host of their events. This shows we are not lagging behind in terms of social activities. You need to go to the stadium whenever Kwara United play home match and see crowd of spectators. We troop to the stadium to enjoy good football and also support our home team.
Shari’ah Law seems to be a victim of misinterpretation. How true or otherwise is this submission?
Shari’ah, which is otherwise known as Islamic law, is a set of rules and regulations which guide the way of life of Islamic faithful. Its source is the Holy Quran, Hadith, otherwise referred to as Sunna of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). Other sources are Qiyas (Analogical reasoning) and lastly, Ijma which is the consensus of the islamic scholars on the issue referred to them. It is to be noted that Sharia is binding on the people of the Islamic faith. Unfortunately, Nigerians are not educated enough on or about Sharia and most of us are not even willing to know about it. We seem to be comfortable with condemning it for selfish reasons. And it is so unfortunate that Nigerians enjoy to be in their comfort zone, in terms of seeking knowledge. To me, Shari’ah as a divine legal system, is 100 percent better than the ubiquitous jungle justice that the citizens of Nigeria are increasingly giving the crime suspects, that may be innocent after sincere investigation.
Do you see Law Practice in the Northern Nigeria different from that in the South, especially, South-west?
Law practice in the Northern part of Nigeria which includesKwara State is not in any way different to that of the states in the Western or even Southern Nigeria. Our highly respected Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) started his Law practice here in Ilorin before he recently relocated his office to Lagos State. Same is applicable to Roland Otaru (SAN). Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) also relocated to his Ekiti State not too long. It is true that the states have their separate Civil Procedure Rules but it doesn’t make the practice in those states court to be different. However, in criminal trial, the Northern states make use of the Penal Code while Criminal Code are used in the Southern Nigeria. All Nigerian lawyers are trained with the two different codes and examined on them in their Bar final exam.
The recent escapades of Fulani herdsmen in different parts of the country have earned them different monikers. They are called killers and terrorists. How do you see these people?
As far as I am concerned, the herdsmen are not killers. These are the people we have known to be existing in Nigeria even before independence but of recent we are hearing different stories. The purported “Fulani Herdsmen” could be some of the Boko Haram members that were recently dislodged from their enclaves in Sambisa Forest or the other troubled zones. They may even be the people referred to as cattle rustlers. They could even be some criminal elements from outside our borders. This matter deserves precaution in order to keep the co-existence of different ethnic groups in the country. We should realise the fact that our diversity is a strength, which we should explore to build a better and greater Nigeria. We should not allow politicians to exploit the diversity to divide us. We should know that Nigeria is greater than individuals, regardless of status and position being held. So, we should be very careful and vigilant too.
Studying in a Northern university is seen differently down here. Can you shed more light to this?
We need to put what you mean in proper perspective for better understanding. But from whichever context you look at it, I want to sincerely say that my undergraduate years at the Usman Danfodio University Sokoto as a Law student between 1993 and 1998, were eventful. I graduated with LL. B Hons. (Common & Islamic Laws).The school was very peaceful with very low social life but very tough in shaping good moral and religious life. You dare not dress indecently otherwise, you will be shown the way out.