Gani Wants Attorney-General Sacked
Lagos-based lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), has called for the sack of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aond-oakaa, over the minister’s frosty relationship with the Economic and Financial Crimes Comm-ission (EFCC).
This came on a day Aondoakaa told THISDAY in New York, USA, that the chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practice and Other Related Offences Commission (IC-PC), Justice Olayinka Ayoola, was being “mischievous” when he said the disagreement between the Minister and the EFCC should have been resolved privately.
Fawehinmi, who said he was appalled and disturbed by the “negative and unconstitutional role” being played by the AG with regards to the anti-corruption war embarked upon by the EFCC, noted that since Aondoakaa’s assumption of office on July 26, 2007, he had been giving the “unmistakable impression” that the crusade against corruption in the country was not in his agenda and that the activities of the institutions engaged in the war against corruption do not have his support.”
Describing his actions and utterances as "not in consonance with the avowed pronouncements and promises of President Yar'Adua to combat corruption in all its ramifications", the senior advocate said the AG should be removed from office before he caused embarrassment to the country.
Fawehinmi said since Aondoakaa was not serving the interest of the public and the Constitution of Nigeria, it was imperative for the President to sack him as quickly as possible.
He said: "Aondoakaa had absolutely failed to appreciate the dual nature of his office as both the chief law officer of the federation and Minister of Justice in the government of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. Aondoakaa does not know what the public interest is with regards to the issue of corruption in Nigeria. He has chosen to ignore the fundamental problem of our country, which the Constitution has addressed.
“Aondoakaa is deliberately ignoring the constitutional command in Section 15(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which provides that the 'State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.'; Aondoakaa does not appreciate the rule of law against corruption handed down by the Supreme Court in the case of A.-G., Ondo State v. A.-G., Federation (2002) which enjoined all Nigerians to fight against corruption and to ensure that institutions set up under the Act of the National Assembly which gives effect to Section 15(5) of the Constitution should be allowed to function and not sabotaged".
He added that the AGF had predicated his “queer” position on his powers under Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution and his “distorted” understanding of the rule of law, thereby acting against the fundamentals of his powers of the same section of the constitution and in violation of the rule of law.
Fawehinmi, who described corruption as the bane of our development, said: "It is the fundamental cause of our poverty in the midst of plenty. It has prevented the country from making political, social and economic progress. It has brought about high level of unemployment in the country. It has denied millions of Nigerians access to education, housing, health, food and infrastructures, etc.
"Whilst the masses of our people wallow in poverty, their political leaders at all levels of governance are suffused in ill-gotten wealth by sheer stealing of the resources of the nation. Yet, we have an Attorney-General who has not shown the conscience, determination and commitment to deal with corrupt politicians. Mr. Aondoakaa, SAN has never condemned corruption. He has never initiated any criminal prosecution of any public officer. He has never caused to be investigated any corrupt politician past or present.
"Our Attorney-General pretends that he hears no corruption, sees no corruption in a country littered with corruption by public officers past and present. He must be living in a world of self-delusion and self-deception.”
"Further at Pages 404-405, paragraphs H-A, Uwaifo, JSC stated: ‘, in our own situation, taking the issue of corruption and abuse of power nationally will best serve the interests of all and the general welfare of Nigeria, both nationally and internationally. Corrupt practices have become an overwhelming malaise for Nigeria. It cannot be left totally to individual states’.”
In New York yesterday, Aodoakaa reacted to comments by the chairman of ICPC, Justice Ayoola, that the matter should have been internally resolved rather than be allowed to snowball into a courtroom quarrel between two government agencies, Aondoakaa maintained that the comments were borne out of mischief.
“Is he saying that as a judge sitting he would have ordered me to come and explain myself in court and I would disobey?” he queried angrily.
“People shouldn’t be so personal about doing things, that they’re the saints and others are the devil. I am unconcerned with his comments. I’m only concerned with the fact that I’m doing the right thing.”
Aondoakaa denied having an axe to grind with EFCC. He said his office had the right to intervene if the commission refused to obey an existing court order.
Asked whether it was not unbecoming for the office of the Attorney-General to be drawn into its widely reported altercation and muscle flexing with the EFCC at the Federal High Court, Abuja last week, the Justice Minister explained that the Supreme Court had in a decided case, laid down the law that State and Federal High Courts had concurrent jurisdiction to enforce fundamental human rights.
The Umuahia High Court judgment restraining the EFCC from prosecuting former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, according to the Attorney-General, was therefore valid. He vowed not to tolerate any disobedience to that order.
“Until it is discharged, the court order must be obeyed, it was very explicit,” he told THISDAY.
Explaining the events which led to the courtroom clash between the DPP from his ministry and counsel from EFCC Independent Prosecutor Rotimi Jacobs’ chambers, Aondoakaa insisted that the Federal High Court, Abuja, had summoned him to explain why the Umuahia High Court order was not obeyed and that the DPP’s appearance in court was in respect to that summons.
Denying that he had any special interest in Kalu’s case, he stated that contrary to media reports he had not taken over the case, he had merely directed the EFCC to accelerate its appeal to the Court of Appeal to vacate the High Court order.