Patrick OdionikhereSunday, September 6, 2009



he concept of free market has been that there should be less regulation of the market other than by the forces of demand and supply. In a free market, it is assumed that the market is perfect with well informed buyers and sellers. As such, neither of the group will cut corner that will be detrimental to either of the sides. But our experiences have revealed that free market is flawed and not self correcting. As we are witnessing how the business-people have been circumventing all rules in distorting the market for their own interest. Interestingly, the ever growing demand for goods and services by consumers have also mean that they are no longer making good judgement, which have been exploited by few greedy elites to put the world in economic crisis. The crisis is now being borne by everybody that leaders of the leading economies agreed to work on new laws for regulating markets for the 21st century.

The ongoing debate about where to strike the right balance between protecting the rights of the consumers and the rights of producers has polarise and put strain on the concept of free market. Where to draw the right balance will not be easy because of the interplay of politics, the growing sophistication and complexities of the markets. All of these have made free market even more illusionary. No wonder that free market has worked unsatisfactorily and exploited by a greedy few. So, the lesson from the current crisis is likely to influence how the new free market will become. It could lead to tougher regulation and but not a return to government doing business or holding monopoly, which did not serve people well as in the past.

Free trade, deregulation and end of government monopolies in the private sector have brought huge economic benefits that, irrespective of the flaws of free market policy, it is difficult to contemplate what should substitute it in spite of the global financial upheaval caused by a greedy few people. The mess and misery caused to the majority by a few callous greedy businessmen may mean that government should take precautionary measures to save jobs and minimise hardship and not outright takeover in what has been settled as no-go-area. So also it would have been a problem if the various governments have not acted collectively to take quick fix policies to minimise economic and political damage. We know many politicians, especially the reactionary ones stood to gain from the economic crisis if ruling governments have not acted decisively to respond to the electorates' interest. That some measures taken were contrary or challenged the roots of free market requires politicians to think beyond this present crisis. The EU countries have becomes US' partner of convenience despite its divergent ideological differences. The amicability of the partnership has been helped by the EU's commission and its strong functioning institutions of intellectuals. They have been hindering the politicians of the member-states from acting against the tenets of the European Union. Since pursuing national interest by member-states for more consumer rights could imply more government regulation and takeover of certain services in the private sector, which might not necessarily serve the consumers better. The EU commission has done well in enforcing its competition laws and help free market to thrive in becoming US' inevitable partner; apart from the historical bond.

America political philosophy believes in less government in the private sector, freedom and work. Unfortunately, the global crisis created a credibility problem for US' free market ideology. Interestingly, the US' political elite have been smart in handling the crisis in order not to undermine its country's power by the greed of few persons. Therefore, they were forced to take painful measures to reclaim its value and standing. Their masterly thinking has helped to avert global economic catastrophic. They did not wait for others to provide solution since it could undermine its influence and especially, the EU must not go a separate way. Otherwise, the US' economy stands to suffer from any market protectionist policy. Even so, any maintained common ground is good for both.

For now, US' leadership role in not bullying the rest of the world to accept only its position on how the 21st century free market should be, has brought harmony and collective relief to world economy and Europe's clash of interest at bay. I doubt whether this will be the last economic crisis of this century; unless, ethic and morality rules in business and politics. This will of course mean that we should be working towards placing emphasis on personal attitudes and values through early child learning in our schools. Because, developing good citizens could mean promoting good neighbourhood - be each-another's-keeper.

Free market is in consonance with democracy. Just like democracy has never worked perfect because of the differing interest of the people, so also is free market burdened. Over regulation will harm both the buyer and seller. A leeway in the form of government's social safety net for vulnerable people should be put in place for free market to thrive. Otherwise, we might witness the turmoil of 19th and some part of the 20th century uprising that produced reactionary leaders because of the harm of few greedy aristocratic elites.

This background analysis was necessary in examining and understanding Nigeria's corporate governance system. Having said this, anyway, even when we talk about market elsewhere, it is doubtful to say whether Nigeria has a functional and developed markets. That we have what might resemble market is the result of having wrong people who are running the economy, which is driven by government. Even so, the various military regimes worsened things because of free oil money, which have been used in developing an economy of patronage; where only office holders and their surrogates become the billionaires by cornering the national resources for themselves alone and also through backdoor stakes in the so-called public companies. The use of public office to serve personal interests have had negative effect on the concept of state - weaken the institutions of state by the actors of the state through arbitrary use of power in weakening the laws of the state. It has corrupted government policies in stagnating the economy, poor public service delivery and inflation. The sorry state of affair has left the ordinary man hopeless and miserable. And because the government is the only backbone of the economy and not promoting the concept of entrepreneurship and wealth distribution agenda for its citizens, we have ended in developing the economy and political system of nepotism for the interest of ruling elite. It no surprise that very public institution operate according to dictate of the president as if we are under military regime that the institutions lack independence in executing state's policies and laws.

Consequently, the lack of nationalism and good vision on part of the ruling elite has also meant that laws of Nigeria are not neutral but reflection of the interests of a small clique of people - the reason that Nigeria is going backward and within the realm of failed state; and the development of a society of antipathy.

The many contentious issues facing Nigeria mean that while writing on a particular topic, one is forced to intermittently digress a bit on various equally important issues. Nevertheless, the purpose of this essay is to examine the legal basis for the action of Mr Lamido Sanusi, the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that he sacked five Managing directors (MDs) - Intercontinental Bank, Afribank, Union Bank, Oceanic Bank and Finbank plc. Nobody would have thought by the assurance of the former CBN's governor, Mr Soludo that any of the so-called consolidated banks were in danger or faced imminent or apparent financial turmoil. Even if his judgement was inherently flawed, one cannot quarrel his candid opinion looking at how banks operate in Nigeria. If you imagine that no bank charges less than 22 percent of interest on any loan in Nigeria; then, the question of financial solvency would not arise if the debtors meet their obligation as when due. Therefore, our banks ought to be in a privilege position against their counterpart abroad, which charges less and as such put their businessmen at a competitive advantage than our businessmen. In addition, that our banks are only engaged in the business of laundry money for politicians and office holders as opposed to engaging in genuine wealth creation ventures have made them vulnerable to be defrauded and as trap for the unsuspecting ordinary man. It is on the same ground that only big men and politically connected people borrow millions without following the mandatory bank rules. The abuse or the waiver of laid down rules for reasons of personal gain by senior bank officials has put the banks at risk and threat to public interest. That these banks operate like any private going concern even though they are in reality the product of public money, which had been siphoned by the political elite to establish them; makes any government's negative policy against them less noxious.

All the same, if anyone commits any financial crime or any civil wrong, the court is the proper place to seek redress. You deserve what you get in violating the rights of wrongdoers to bring them to justice should not become the notion of our justice system. Yes, we must give the sacked MDs by the CBN's governor the benefit of doubt until proven otherwise in a court of law. We have only heard of the governor's version of the reasons for their sack; while the EFCC is doing the harassment. The whole affairs appear odd and Nigerians are yet to fathom what is going on. Even if we were to go along the CBN's representation of facts, we must exercise caution so as not to pre-empt guilty verdict on the sacked MDs before the court. As such, I will take you through some issues as following:

Firstly, does the governor of central bank have power to sack the five-Bank MD's and its board - Intercontinental Bank, Afribank, Union Bank, Oceanic Bank and Finbank plc, takeover and power to grant loan - inherent or apparent? In answering the above, Lets examine the law. The whole of Section 315 of the constitution of Nigeria is very instructional since it is the pinnacle of all laws. It states: 315.

  1. Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, an existing law shall have effect with such modifications as may be necessary to bring it into conformity with the provisions of this Constitution and shall be deemed to be -

    1. an Act of the National Assembly to the extent that it is a law with respect to any matter on which the National Assembly is empowered by this Constitution to make laws; and

    2. a Law made by a House of Assembly to the extent that it is a law with respect to any matter on which a House of Assembly is empowered by this Constitution to make laws.

  2. The appropriate authority may at any time by order make such modifications in the text of any existing law as the appropriate authority considers necessary or expedient to bring that law into conformity with the provisions of this Constitution.

  3. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as affecting the power of a court of law or any tribunal established by law to declare invalid any provision of an existing law on the ground of inconsistency with the provision of any other law, that is to say-

    1. any other existing law;

    2. a Law of a House of Assembly;

    3. an Act of the National Assembly; or

    4. any provision of this Constitution.

  4. In this section, the following expressions have the meanings assigned to them, respectively -

    1. "appropriate authority" means -

      1. the President, in relation to the provisions of any law of the Federation,

      2. the Governor of a State, in relation to the provisions of any existing law deemed to be a Law made by the House of Assembly of that State, or

      3. any person appointed by any law to revise or rewrite the laws of the Federation or of a State;

    2. "existing law" means any law and includes any rule of law or any enactment or instrument whatsoever which is in force immediately before the date when this section comes into force or which having been passed or made before that date comes into force after that date; and

    3. "modification" includes addition, alteration, omission or repeal.

  5. Nothing in this Constitution shall invalidate the following enactments, that is to say -

    1. the National Youth Service Corps Decree 1993;

    2. the Public Complaints Commission Act;

    3. the National Security Agencies Act;

    4. the Land Use Act,

      and the provisions of those enactments shall continue to apply and have full effect in accordance with their tenor and to the like extent as any other provisions forming part of this Constitution and shall not be altered or repealed except in accordance with the provisions of section 9 (2) of this Constitution.

  6. Without prejudice to subsection (5) of this section, the enactments mentioned in the said subsection shall hereafter continue to have effect as Federal enactments and as if they related to matters included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part I of the Second Schedule to this Constitution.

Any law that violates the set provisions are illegality and unenforceable. The subsection - 315 (5) is very interesting in that it states which military law are still in effect and could not be invalidated by any enactment without a constitutional amendment. So, the said law - bank and other financial institutions decree 1991, Sections 33 which the governor purportedly invoked was no longer part of the laws of Nigeria. Since, the enactment of the CBN 2007 act replaced the military decree of 1991 whether or not it still inadvertently referred to the decree at various point. In effect, the Central Bank Act 2007 remains the only legal framework for the governor to carryout any oversight function of financial institutions in Nigeria. Interestingly, this act has not given any employer's power to the governor of CBN to sack any bank chief or board of financial institutions. Therefore, following the given analogy, no law gives the governor any power to sack bank chiefs. Only the owners of the affected banks could exercise such power under general principles of contract or employment laws. The mistake of not re-enacting the 1991 military decree leaves the governor in a legal limbo, which was caused by parliament due to enacting inconsistent laws in violation of the constitution. It is unfortunate that some of the good laws of the 1991 provisions were not re-enacted.

This brings us to the next legal puzzle. What happens now that the governor had acted ultra vires or acted in mistaken of the law if we assume he acted unbiased? Even while critical of his action, hypothetically, I want to believe he acted on the basis of good judgement and cannot contradict himself to recall the dismissed bank chiefs, which is a matter for the court. Nevertheless, unless the owners of the banks exercise their rights against the said bank MDs, their contractual rights subsists until otherwise. They can institute legal proceedings against the CBN as an institution but not Mr Lamido Sanusi as a person under the CBN 2007 Act. But then, can the court compel the Banks to retain the sacked MDs other than claim of civil damages arising from contractual obligation if the CBN's chief acted illegally? It might pose a problem; since court cannot force a servant on a master if the former can claim effective civil damages. This is where the sacked MDs have an uphill task since the governor of the CBN could still connive with the owners of the banks to pursue criminal impropriety against them. Such move could frustrate any action which the culprit might have in law. I am not by this essay pre-empting the outcome of a legal battle but to enable our people get the true picture of affairs. As things stand, without the owner of the banks joining the CBN's governor, the sacked MDs have a strong case to make against the governor for abuse of power; unless the court decides contrary.

On the other limb of the matter - takeover and loans to the affected banks: Again, if we agree that the 1991 decree ceased to be laws of Nigeria after the coming of the constitution into force, then, we have to examine others laws in light of the governor's action. CBN act 2007 does not give him power to takeover any financial institution except that it provided some regulatory measures for preventing the banks and financial institutions from putting depositor's money at risk and when necessary grant financial aids to financial institutions in time of crisis. Unfortunately, that the CBN's 2007 act was not properly transposed makes the Act invalid, which leaves the governor without power to grant credit or loan to the affected banks; unless, an approval was granted by parliament in line with Sections 80 (1)(4) of the constitution. As it stipulates that only parliament have power to authorise the spending of public money by a bill from Mr President to the house in Sections 81. The governor has no power to give any public money without parliamentary approval despite it being in the CBN's Act 2007 to do so. That this act violates Sections 1(3) of the constitution, which states: if any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this constitution, this constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void. Even though not being his making; means that he acted ultra vires and the money so granted must be returned immediately to the public account; until, a bill containing the said amount is approved by parliament ex post facto.

On the issue of takeover as been speculated, we are yet to understand what the CBN governor's financial aid is about. At least on paper, the five banks in question are still a going concern until adjudged bankrupt by a court of law in Nigeria; or an order of the court proclaiming them as government property. Otherwise, the governor has no power as stated in Sections 44 (1)(2j) of the constitution. It states clearly how the government should act and because it did appear in the CBN's Act leaves the governor without the power to takeover the affected banks. Or else, the takeover amounts to appropriation of private property. Nevertheless, the federal government has power of taking over any business if it violates the governing laws subject to court order. Looking at the law, it should interest us to know who should act for government in the scenario like this. Principally, it rest on the President, who can act through justice or finance ministry and not the CBN's office. Since the CBN has defined mandate in the 2007 Act with the exception of the inconsistent laws. Therefore, the CBN can only exercise the powers given to it by parliament and any power exercise outside its scope is denied or constitutionally barred.

Now, having found that the governor acted wrongly, the next question is whether the EFCC was heavy handling in the whole saga. The law is imperative to assessing EFCC activities. Section 35 (1)(a-c) of the constitution are relevant in determining whether EFCC have powers of arrest and intimidation of any accused person. On account of the constitutional provisions, the EFCC may have power of arrest if given the power by its enabling laws. So, can the EFCC, without a court order arrest any person on mere accusation and detained the person for more than 24 hours or in the absence of court order, declare any suspect wanted? In untying the posited questions, the big task remains what should amount to reasonable suspicion of commission of a criminal offence and when should an arrest becomes imminent and who should make the decision of arrest? A classical armed robbery case might be explanatory on the reasonableness test. For example, if two armed looking civilian comes into a bank premise and starts shooting sporadically to cause fear, nobody will have doubt about their mission. In such a scenario, there is no difficulty in suspecting that they are on a mission for the commission of a crime. In this case, anyone in position to stop the commission of a crime could act with due care not to put his or herself or anybody in danger; since the law does not impose any obligation on individuals to be good Samaritans. However, there is a moral duty to act in the interest of public good to stop the commission of crime. Therefore, if you cannot act for personal safety, you must call the police for action and anyone so arrested for trying, or has committed any offence if not by law enforcing agent must be handed over to the appropriate authority. Once an arrest had been made, in the classical scenario above in the case of common crime offences, the reasonableness test is easy and detention is appropriate by the arresting agent as a temporary measure for the prevention of further commission of crime; whilst waiting for the court's approval, which should not be later than 48 hours after arrest.

To determine the reasonableness test for detention of white collar criminals are controversial and not clear cut in view of its secretive nature. Also, there are issues of when should arrest and detention be imminent and which organ of government is best suited to make the decision without violating the constitution; or the power of arrest being abused or exploited for selfish interest. The mere fact that the banks in question are in financial crisis does lead to a conclusion of criminal financial impropriety by the five sacked MDs. Even If there had been any internal investigation showing any criminal impropriety, only the court had power to order the arrest of the MDs and anybody who commits a white collar crime. Crimes committed in the course of a contractual obligation are not the same as common crime under public law or criminal law. The distinction is important in determining whether the reasonable test is at all applicable to white collar or financial fraud crimes. If we agree though, that the presumed crimes of the MDs do not fit the reasonability test, then the EFCC had no power of arrest and detention in light of the constitutional provisions except the court. Again, without the assistance of the owners of the banks, the EFCC may lack standing to try the accused persons except consulted by the owners of the affected banks to pursue criminal impropriety against the sacked MDs.

Again, if any suspect reports himself or herself voluntarily to EFCC for questioning in respect of any investigation, the EFCC is constitutionally barred from detaining the person in question. Bearing in mind that the sacked MDs were no longer in position to commit further crime; therefore, their detention amounted to an abuse of power, illegality, and witch-hunt. No one should have sympathy for anybody that defies the law and if punished accordingly. The governor of CBN and EFCC must not follow a policy of anger to undermine the institution of the state. The governor must be mindful of the opinion being speculated that he is pursuing a policy of ethnic banking system in Nigeria. Hence he is creating anarchy and acrimony within the system so as to covertly reclaim the banks for a particular interest. Irrespective of what informed Mr Sanusi's action, we must continue to scrutinise him in light of public interest than on sentiment so that the culprits do not exploit the situation to get off the hook and leaves the financial burden for taxpayers.

On the question of seizure of assets of the culprits or any suspected criminal, the EFCC does not have that power in so far as they have not been convicted in a court of law and the assets in question deemed as proceeds of crime. Nevertheless though, the EFCC, parallel to pursuing criminal charges, should as well pursue claims in civil damages in addition to asking for an injunction - interim relief order to freeze any asset through ex parte proceedings; as a way of preventing suspects from dealing with the asset in dispute. If the EFCC has not done this, it is acting illegally. So also, it cannot harass the debtors of the affected banks without court order and subject to if they were failing to service their debt obligation - in default of payment of their debts. The CBN and EFCC should exercise caution not to violate data protection laws in publishing names of people that could make them become target of public discontent and risks of harm. Yes, if they had been convicted of any wrongdoing, then we could say it was appropriate to expose them for public interest. Even then, the authorities should understand the distinction between personal liability and business liabilities. For example, Mr Dangote cannot be held personally liable for the debt of his company; unless the loans were obtained as Dangote, the private person or limited to his share in the company. Those who operate the law must understand them well and not acting as if Nigeria is still in a military rule, where no laws are obeyed. Does the CBN understand the implication of its action of forcing people to pay debts without giving them time to plan and make sound business decisions. Most of these people being chased around and forced to pay their bank loans are employers of labour. I doubt whether we reflect on the repercussion it could have on jobs.

Following the way Nigeria has been created to fail by those who designed its system, leaves no imagination of what is not possible elsewhere as norm in Nigeria. No matter how offensive and retrogressive many of us find these actions, we should blame members of both houses of the national parliament for lack of intellectual capacity to make good laws and for enacting inconsistent legislations.

There is no doubt that the leftover colonial and military mentality has burdened every bit of our national life, which has been exploited by the ruling elite in keeping the ordinary man in perpetual hopelessness and deceit. Otherwise, the imagination of banks being called southern banks would not have arisen. The truth though, is that at the moment, there are no ethnic banks in Nigeria but banks of Friends of the Actors of the State. Hence, the governor was quick to risk public money at such a dispatch. Whereas, ASUU has been on strike for close to two months, yet nobody is talking to them for the interest of our youths who have vital role to play in the development of Nigeria. Who is deceiving who? We should remind the government and the governor of the CBN in particular, that Nigeria cannot afford to have ethnic or religious banks at a time when Nigeria is aspiring to join world leading economies. Promoting ethnic discontent can plague Nigeria into crisis, which is not healthy for unity, patriotism and national development. We need wise leaders so that our nation can overcome the politics of nepotism and ethnicity. If there is any case of disproportionate ethnic representation in terms of employment in the banking sector, it should not give room for misrepresentation of facts. The banks should be forced to comply with federal character laws in spreading wealth not defined by personal relationship to those in position of authority. It is unacceptable that a bank chief appoints only his relatives and people from his ethnic group. The federal character laws apply also to the private sector as defined in the constitution. As such, I think only small family businesses should be exempted from federal character laws or any business that employs less than 20 employees. If are still interested in One Nigeria, this divisive and deceptive blackmail by the political elite must stop. It is overdue for the Nigerians to know who owns these so-called southern banks as maliciously propagated. Equally, nobody should have understanding for ethnic banks but banks that serves the needs of all Nigerians. Any good for any region in Nigeria is good for all in a federalist state. If the governor of the CBN misuses the crisis of failing banks to pursue the making of ethnic banks, then Nigeria is in danger. All the same, it is difficult to accept the politics of sentiment as being wrongly imagined by those who think that the CBN's action is self-serving for the interest of a particular group. The governor has a public mandate to implement neutral national policies and no longer errand boy of President Yar'Adua to execute self-serving policies. Wealth distribution not defined by ethnic affiliation is the only way for realising the power of our unity. This is not the time for sentiments but time to ensure that the CBN governor does the right thing in bringing wrongdoers to justice so that the wrongdoers do not define the terms of justice.

The current office holders should learn from the lessons of Ribadu's fall - the former EFCC chairman and hothead. We must respect the institution of the state and not as a personal office. The life span of any institution must be contrasted with how Fareed Zakaria (the future of freedom: illiberal democracy at home and abroad) explained the reason for the fall of Rome empire: the lesson of Rome's fall is that, for the rule of law to endure, you need more than the good intentions of the rulers, for they may change (both the intentions and the rulers). You need institutions within society whose strength is independent of the state. He said also, when leaders of society lived up to their ideals they were honoured. When they did not it was a matter of deep disappointment. Remember, your actions will be judged at the end of your office even if you may at the moment hold the horsewhip. Mr Sanusi, as governor of the CBN, you owe to us a public duty to disclose any wrong done by your predecessor. Tribal attitude in running public office must change in Nigeria if we are to move forward. The way our banks operate exposes them to serious financial crisis now and in the future unless they are subjected to strict adherence to government laid down rules. Beyond this current phase, the CBN's governor must not use the policy of annoyance or friend-help-friend to romance and donate public money to praise-singing managers and their banks. Helping any troubled bank is important but he should be careful that any help does not distort the market by giving them an unfair market position against its rivals without any benefit being passed to the consumers. In view of this, I think, the government should be working to put competition laws and the agency comparable to UK's office of fair trade in place. A country hoping to be among 20 leading economies without competition rules is self-betrayal. It will enhance the growth of our economy and bring down prices for the benefit of all. Without competition laws our market serves only the interest of few people and could trigger break-down of social cohesion, mass civil disobedience and riots in the future if hardship becomes unbearable. The government of Nigeria has been lucky to rule an unenlightened people that its politicians and business elites are having hay day to inflict pain and miseries on the people. Leaving the market in the hands of just few people is harmful to any economy in terms of wealth creation, jobs, knowledge advancement and social tension. It is better to have many millionaires than a few billionaires - not billionaires by political patronage but millionaires of creativity.

Furthermore, all current accountant generals of the federation should be dismissed for failing to detect and prevent financial crimes; and rising public corruption. Again, I have this advice for President Yar'Adua, come down to reality and serve the need of our people. If you are tried, resign. Our people do not want to return to Shagari's experiment. Work to remedial the comment of Mrs Hilary Clinton and not the response of Mr David Mark, who is in a fool's paradise not to understand that Nigeria's burden is leadership failure - no healthcare and social welfare, infrastructural decay and lack of power, poor public education system and all the indices of failing state. The progressives should go and push our people outside to do the street fight in order for the ruling elite to become men of conscience.

Nigerian government must end the running of business; it should be working towards making it 90 percent private economy. Telecommunication privatisation has shown the entrepreneurship of our people and the as the best way of wealth creation and distribution. Too much government control of the economy has enabled nepotism to thrive that Nigeria is within the realm of failed state like Somalia. We have reached the stage that it is not just enough that our people are talking and the political elite are not listening. Otherwise, our democracy is no more than civilian dictatorship - the rule of minority against the majority. Equally, the actors of the state should be re-orientated to know that we are in a democracy where following the rule of law is imperative. It is a reason that democracy is not cheap and if we get it right, Nigeria could transform into a modern state - the yardstick for measuring economic development and growth.

Finally, just like public institutions have been weakened because of the way office holders use them as if they are personal institutions, so also is the present CBN 2007 Act flawed by those who enacted inconsistent legislations. There should be a fresh re-enactment of the CBN Act to enable the CBN to be able to tackle corporate governance for the 21st century. Democracy means we must abandon military mentality to respect rule of law and make laws for the interest of the majority. I have faith in the capacity of our people to understand and do what is right. Democracy allows us to follow rule of reason and freedom to be critical of government policies. The governor of the CBN will become wiser if he respects positive critical opinion in the execution of his public duty. There could have been better ways of going about the recalcitrant bank managers without media publicity as done by the CBN's governor. The mismanaged affairs could have not just repercussion for all banks in Nigeria alone but also implicate its outside interest, which his predecessor put in a positive light to showcase Nigerian banks as enterprising in spite of Nigeria being negatively perceived abroad. The difficulty in delineating who run business and government in Nigeria has led to the intermingle of the two that nobody faces sanction for any wrongful act and laws enacted in bad faith to punish the majority whose voices are yet to find representation in governance. It is time for the agent of the state to stop the intermingling and have respect for rule of law. The earlier we get our laws right, the better because nothing can replace democracy.

Patrick Odionikhere is Legal Adviser, Federal Asylum Office, Austria