The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, has submitted himself to the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, for probe over criminal allegations against him by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Acting on the instruction of the president, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, forwarded Chief Obasanjo’s letter to the commission for investigation into the alleged rights violations contained in the letter.
The AGF, in a memo dated December 23 and addressed to the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe, requested the commission to investigate the allegations bordering on human rights violations contained on page 9-10 of the letter.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who denied the allegations in his response, is specifically inviting the rights commission to unravel the truth in the allegation that his government had begun training over 1,000 snipers to terminate his political opponents.
Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bola Ajibola at his book launch on Saturday blamed Nigeria’s loss of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon on a treaty between Britain and Germany as well as the lack of understanding of past administrations in Nigeria.
Speaking at the book launch in his honour, Mr Ajibola gave reasons for thejudgement passed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as regards the lost land.
He said, “At the time that the British decided on ceding the entire area of Bakassi to Germany; it was not owned at that time by the British. It was that agreement that was being mainly relied upon by us here.”
He expressed doubts on any hope of re-claiming the lost land.
A drama ensued in the council chambers just before the council of state meeting as the governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole engaged the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke in a momentary argument over the controversy surrounding the death of his personal secretary Olaitan Oyerinde.
The governors had all converged in their usual chit-chat manner when the Attorney General drew close to the Edo State governor to say that his attorney general was ignorant of his role in the case.
The statement may have enraged the governor and he did not hide his feelings.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting on the reason for his outburst, Mr Oshiomole said Mr Adoke had trivialized his office as governor, adding that the matter was wrongly referred to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, instead of the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.
“I don’t think it is an issue I want to talk about. He (Mr. Adoke) was saying that my Attorney General should have known what to do, that he has nothing to do with the matter. I simply asked him who referred the matter to him. Was it my Attorney General? The matter was referred to him by the Deputy Inspector General of Police and I asked him who should know better?
“If the Deputy Inspector General of Police referred a matter that he ought to have referred to the State to the Federal Attorney General, who is the one dragging him (Mr. Adoke) into the matter? Who is the one politicizing the matter? Should we assume that the DIG did not know that an offense of murder is a state offense? And if he knows it’s a state offense why did he refer it to the Federal Attorney General? So, if there is any complaints he should complain to the DIG who referred the case to him. The rest you witnessed,” the governor said.
Mr. Oshiomhole continued, “The point is that some of these guys- I am a governor, I’m elected; he has to respect my office even if he doesn’t respect my person. In any event, we are dealing with factual issues. If a case was wrongfully referred to the federal attorney general by the Nigeria Police, who is to blame?”
Mr. Oshiomole also said the state government had earlier complained that the matter ought to have been referred to the Edo State Director of Public Prosecutions and not federal because it is a state offense committed in Edo State.
“It’s like the case of a he-goat. When a family is happy they sacrifice the he-goat to celebrate. When the child is sick the native doctor says, sacrifice a he-goat so that the child will be well. So, head or tail, the he-goat is in trouble.
“Here I am, my primary Secretary is killed, nobody seems to bother. I’m doing my best to raise the issue because that is the least I owe to someone who gave his life. Yet for someone else who does not think life is important, it’s a matter to trivialise and joke about. When it comes to life and death, I don’t joke.
“The essence of governance is to protect life and property. That is fundamental. Even in poverty, people need to feel safe and secure. Nobody has a right under our constitution to take the life of another except if it has been confirmed by a court of competent jurisdiction. “I was surprised that for the Attorney General it is something he can afford to joke with, telling me that my Attorney General didn’t know what to do,” the governor said.
The Governor advised that office holders should think of how the decisions they make will affect the country as after now, they will all be referred to as “ex”.
However, the Attorney General, in his reaction, denied trivializing the governor’s office.
“I will not disregard his office. He is my personal friend. I have the highest respect for him. I did not trivialise his office and I have no reason to trivialise his office. He is at liberty as a governor in this country to say whatever he wants to say but I will accord his office the highest respect and I will not join issues with him,” he said.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke on Thursday wrote a letter to the House of Representatives denying allegations that he was confused on how to handle the prosecution of the murder of late Olaitan Oyerinde, former Principal Private Secretary to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State. A lawyer representing the office of the AGF, Thompson Olatigbe on Wednesday told the House of Representative’s committee on public petition that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation is yet to identify suspects in the murder of Mr Oyerinde.
He had specifically told the committee that the hands of the office of the AGF is tied with respect to the case as the investigations conducted by both the police and the State Security Service produced different suspects in the matter.
However, in a swift reaction to this submission, Mr Adoke wrote in the letter to the House “I wish to completely disassociate myself from the comments purportedly made on my behalf by Mr. Olaitigbe as the comments were at best, a figment of his imagination and very far from the truth. Mr. Olaitigbe was under firm instructions to inform the Committee that:
“(a) the Federal Ministry of Justice had examined the powers of the State Security Service as provided by Section 3 of the National Security Act, Cap.N.74 LFN, 2004 and the powers of the Nigeria Police Force as provided by section 4 of the Police Act Cap. P.19 LFN, 2004 and had come to the reasoned conclusion that the power to investigate crimes of the nature under consideration (murder) resides with the Nigeria Police Force while the power to gather intelligence lies with the State Security Service, and
“(b) Murder, the offence allegedly committed by the suspects is exclusively within the jurisdiction of the States in the Federation. The Criminal Procedure Act, Cap., C. 38 LFN, 2004 is very clear on this matter. The Federal Ministry of Justice therefore has no power to prosecute murder cases as murder is a state offence committed against State law and that the matter was already been handled by appropriate authorities in Edo State.”
The Minister said he was “shocked, embarrassed and utterly disappointed by the representations reportedly allegedly made” on his behalf by Mr. Olaitigbe and that he has “instituted an internal investigation to unravel the mystery and appropriate measures will be taken to discipline any officer found wanting in this deliberate propagation of falsehood.”
The House committee is probing a petition against the police on alleged complicity and improper investigation of the murder of the late principal private secretary.
During the hearing, Governor Oshiomole explained why he believed the Police were not professional in their investigation of the case. The committee then took presentations from officials of the two security agencies – the police and the DSS – both of which have suspects in custody for the same crime.
Speaking to state house correspondents, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke said that the fight against corruption can only get a firm root when the entire judicial system is cleansed.
Justice Archibong was recommended for compulsory retirement pursuant to the ‘findings” by the council on the following complaints levelled against him:
• that the judge dismissed the grievous charges against an accused without taking his plea;
• that he refused to release the certified true copy of his ruling to the lawyers;
• that the judge issued a bench warrant on some officials of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for contempt even when the counsel who was directed by the court to serve them filed an affidavit that he had not been able to serve the contempt application;
• that he made unfounded and caustic remarks on professional competence of some Senior Advocates of Nigeria;
• that there were glaring procedural irregularities which showed that he did not have a full grasp of the law and procedure of the court; and
• that he granted the leave sought for in the originating summons that had no written address of the parties and without hearing both parties in the originating summons after he had earlier overruled the preliminary objection.
The federal government has announced plans to create more jobs for the nation’s unemployed youths as part of measures in tackling insecurity in the country.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, announced this at the opening of a two-day peace and security summit organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja, where he promised that the government will continue to pursue genuine reconciliation of all aggrieved persons.
He said the attacks by terrorists are an attack on the core values of the nation which the government is working hard to overcome.
However, a former Head of State, retired General Muhammadu Buhari, who was also at the summit, argued that the nation can do better in managing the security situation than what obtains now.
Also speaking, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mariam Aloma-Mukhtar, noted that peace is attainable when leaders resort to dialogue.
On his part, a former Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS), Albert Horsfall, stressed the need for justice and fair play as a panacea for peace just as the president of the NBA, Okey Wali, expressed optimism that the summit will proffer solutions to the nation’s security challenges.
The summit titled, Comprehensive and Sustainable Peace and Security in a Plural Society, was convened to find ways of ensuring peace in the country.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday withdrew criminal charges filed before a Lagos High Court, sitting in Igbosere, Lagos Island against some oil subsidy suspects and their Chief Executive Officers. Consequently, the trial judge, Justice Samuel Candide-Johnson struck out the suit instituted against Durosola Omogbenigun, Peter Mba, Integrated Resources Limited and Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd.
At the resumed hearing of the suit, EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo in an application dated July 26 brought pursuant to Section 73 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Law, 2007 sought leave of the court to withdraw the charges.
Mr Oyedepo told the court that he had instructions from the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to withdraw the charge against the defendants.
In a 10-pragraph affidavit attached to the application, deposed to by one Usani Francis, a prosecuting counsel with the EFCC, the anti-graft agency stated that the charges preferred against the defendants were misconstrued by the prosecution and were inadvertently filed against the defendants.
“That a review of the prosecution’s case and the evidence available to the prosecution clearly show that the defendants did not commit the offences for which they are charged’’, he swore.
The anti-graft body further added that withdrawing the charge against the defendants would meet the interest of justice in the case.
Misters Omogbenigun, Mba, Integrated Resources Limited and Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd were earlier charged with offences bothering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.
They were alleged to have forged bills of lading and other documents, with which they perpetrated the fraud.
Specifically, Integrated Resources Limited and Mr Omogbenigun were said to have obtained the sum of N823, 304,765.84 (eight hundred and twenty three million, three hundred and four thousand, seven hundred and sixty five naira, eighty four kobo) from the Federal Government on November 15, 2011, “by false pretence and with the intent to defraud.”
The defendants allegedly claimed it was subsidy money payable to Integrated Resources Limited under the Petrol Support Fund. The sum was said to be payments for Federal Government’s request for 9,190,815 Litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke on Tuesday asked the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha to allow the sacked local government Chairmen in the state to resume office as ruled by the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal in Owerri earlier this month reinstated the ousted elected chairmen and councillors of the 27 Local Government Areas in the state. In a unanimous judgement, the court declared that going by Section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution and Section 23(1) of the Local Government Law 2000 (as amended), the governor has no competence or power either by his person or through any person acting on his behalf to dissolve democratically-elected chairmen of the 27 local government areas of the state.
In statement issued from his office, the Minister of Justice said “the attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to the lingering controversy that has trailed the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Owerri Judicial Division in Appeal No. CA/OW/215/2011, Barr Enyinna Onuegbu & 26 Ors v. Attorney General of Imo State & 3 Ors dated 5th July 2012 which declared as illegal and unconstitutional the action of the Governor of Imo State, purporting to dissolve the democratically elected Local Government Councils in the State before the expiration of their constitutionally guaranteed tenure.”
Mr Adoke explained “that section 7 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, guarantees the existence of a system of democratically elected Local Government Councils throughout the federation. The judgment of the Court of Appeal aforementioned has only confirmed this position.
“I therefore call on all concerned to respect the judgment of the Court of Appeal and give due regard to the provisions of the Constitution which all elected officials of government have sworn to uphold. This will not only inspire confidence in the polity but will also deepen our fledgling democracy.
“In the light of the foregoing and in consonance with this administration’s avowed commitment to the enthronement of the rule of law in the federation, I hereby call on Imo state Government and all relevant agencies of government to abide by the judgment of the Court of Appeal and ensure that the judgment of the Court of Appeal is given its full effect.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello-Adoke has debunked claims that the federal government will not prosecute oil marketers indicted by the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee on the probe of petroleum subsidy.
The Justice Minister, who spoke through his counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo in Abuja, at a press conference on Thursday, said that the government was following the principle of rule of law.
According to the AGF “no fact finding committee can indict a person except the police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC)”.
He stressed that indicted oil marketers will be prosecuted by the federal government as soon as the relevant investigating agencies complete their investigations.
Mr. Adoke confirmed that the federal government will be heading to court next week to file charges against the indicted companies and officials saying, “if next week the report of the investigating agencies on any of oil companies indicted by the House of Representatives committee is out and it is reliable and conclusive, the federal government will go to court and prosecute the company”.
This is coming despite a Federal High Court ruling in Abuja on Wednesday which barred the federal government from implementing the fuel subsidy report by not prosecuting any official of the Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, which filed the suit.
The court ordered the federal government to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the originating summons filed by the company.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday accused the Justice Minister, Mohammed Bello-Adoke of draining the Nigerian economy through the payments of judgement debt and other legal settlements.
According to the lawmakers the sum of N14 billion has already been lost through the justice ministry.
The government’s judgment debt profile presently is above N90 billion.
The lawmakers therefore mandated its committee on Justice to investigate the accumulation and payments of judgment debts by Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The House directed the Justice Committee to carry out a thorough investigation into questionable lawsuits that has accumulated more than N90 billion judgment debt against the federal government and report back in 21 days.
The House also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to suspend the payment of judgment claim to Interstella Communications Limited, and other payments pending the outcome of the investigations.
The decision followed a motion on the matter raised by Robinson Uwak (PDP, Akwa Ibom), who expressed concern that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice has been “wittingly or unwittingly encouraging the procurement of judgment debts against the Federal Government, thus the need to verify the processes.”
“The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has a duty of representing the government of Nigeria and protecting fully, its pecuniary and other interests,” Mr Uwak said.
“This must be in all contractual transactions, including litigations brought against it by parties,” he said.
The lawmakers suspect there may be a scheme that has been in existence for years in which some government officials instigate suits that exploited government’s weak structures and then shared in the proceeds of the claims.
While moving the motion to constitute a committee to probe the matter, Mr Uwak accused the Office of the Attorney General of encouraging judgment debts against the government through negligent prosecution.
He cited the case of the AGF’s decision to commence payment of over N14 billion in judgment debts to a telecommunication company while the case remained in court.
The suit, between Interstella Communication Limited and NITEL, is currently before the Court of Appeal. While the court is yet to deliver judgement on the case, the Attorney General had commenced payment of N14 billion as claims to Intersella, Mr Uwak said.