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Who will call ADOKE to order? He is fast becoming Minister of INJUSTICE

By Kande Ibrahim on 07/05/2013

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I have been following with keen interest the obvious case of conspiracy of silence targeted at Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, the former Governor of Sokoto State. I also note with trepidation and amazement that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, is a principal agent in this unholy gang-up.

I am amazed because the chief law officer of the federation should, ordinarily, not be involved in acts that are meant to muzzle fairness and transparency. When a citizen is aggrieved or has complaints against individuals or institutions, it is to the courts that he turns to. If the courts cannot guarantee fair hearing and justice to citizens, then we are all doomed. This is the scenario Adoke’s silence in the case involving Bafarawa paints.

To situate the issue properly, it is important that we understand what the conspiracy is all about. Alhaji Bafarawa who was the governor of Sokoto State between 1999 and 2007 is standing trial in a Sokoto State High Court over allegations of graft since 2008. The Governor while leaving office had invited the then Governor-elected, Aliyu Wamakko, for proper handover briefing. However, Wamakko declined the invitation. On the day he was taking over on May 29, 2007, Wamakko raised alarm that he met the state’s coffers in the red. His claim ran counter to the facts, which he was privy to before he took over. That fact was that Bafarawa left about N 11.8 billion in the state’s account while he was leaving office.

The matter was straightforward enough. An independent inquiry needed to be conducted to know between Bafarawa and Wamakko who was right or wrong. Consequently, Bafarawa petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), asking it to probe the allegation. Curiously, the EFCC did nothing. Then one year after, the commission invited Bafarawa over to its office, claiming that there was a petition against him. He was subsequently detained. No charges were slammed on him. His tormentors merely left him in solitary confinement.

Unable to reconcile his earlier petition with the action of the EFCC, Bafarawa went to court and eventually secured his release. The court ordered the EFCC to bring charges against Bafarawa. But the Commission could not do so until the Sokoto State Government fed it with some spurious charges. The commission could not carry out its own Investigation because the allegations against Bafarawa were hollow. Since then, the EFCC has remained timid in the Bafarawa case because it has no facts to rely on.

The concerned publics really pity EFCC in this matter. They know that the commission is only being used to achieve a nefarious objective. But this is most unfortunate because Nigerians had thought that the commission under Ibrahim Larmode would not allow itself to be manipulated as was the case in the past. Concerned Nigerians are still pitying the EFCC.

But they are even more scandalised that the Attorney-General of the Federation also decided to be entangled in the conspiracy web. How did Adoke come in? Having made up its mind that Bafarawa must be constantly harassed for political reasons, the Sokoto State Government employed the services of EFCC. The commission timidly acquiesced and played along. But the involvement of the Attorney-General became the last straw that was being used to break Bafarawa’s back. The plot was to ensure that Bafarawa is tried in a court where he will be prosecuted and jailed by the same person, in this case, his accuser. Consequently, they charged him to Sokoto State High Court instead of a Federal High Court.

Since then, Nigerians have been expressing worry at this development. They do not understand why Bafarawa is not being tried in a Federal High Court since the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the complainant in the case. Justice and fairness therefore demand that Bafarawa be tried in a federal court either in Sokoto State or the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

At first, it was thought that it was an oversight on the part of the office of the Attorney-General. His attention was therefore drawn to the unpalatable situation. But as a believer in the rule of law, Bafarawa took it upon himself to ensure that the Attorney-General does not continue to act in Ignorance. He therefore approached his lawyers, who wrote Adoke on June 18, 2012, drawing his attention to the anomaly. The Attorney-General received Bafarawa’s letter on June 20, 2012 but has not, up till this day, deemed it necessary to respond to the issue raised by Bafarawa. This is not only contemptuous; it ridicules the exalted office of the Attorney-General.

It is contemptuous because good breeding and civilised conduct demand that Adoke addresses the concerns expressed by the petitioner, no matter how frivolous. A responsible public office holder does not ignore issues of state brought before him. If Bafarawa was wrong in asking that his case be transferred to a Federal High Court, he should be told so by the Attorney-General. If he was right, then his request should be granted without further delay. But there is no feedback of any sort from Adoke’s office. This conspiracy of silence throws him open to suspicion. By maintaining a studied silence, Adoke has given the impression that he is an accomplice in the grand conspiracy to deal with Bafarawa.

But this is wrong. The office of Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is an exalted one. It is usually respected because the people expect that they can get redress from it when their rights are being trampled upon. If the same office becomes a haven for unholy acts, then everyone is in trouble. Rather than be Minister of Justice, Adoke appears to be presiding over injustice. Someone needs to call him to order.

While we can understand the timid attitude of the EFCC, we cannot rationalise that of the office of the Attorney-General. While Nigerians have, long before now, lost confidence in the EFCC, they cannot afford to give up on matters of justice and fair play. The Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice represents justice and fair play. That is the reason for its existence. If it fails to deliver on this mandate then we must all be living in a jungle. Someone should please prevail on Adoke to take us out of this jungle. Nigerians are civilised people. They want to move with the civilised world. They do not want to be dragged down by conspirators and anti-social elements.

As the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, the assumption is that Adoke is civilised. He must therefore not act in a way and manner that will give a lie to this assumption.

Beginning from now, we expect Adoke to do one thing. He should respond to Bafarawa’s petition on his unjust trial at Sokoto State High Court. We expect that the best response from him will be to ensure the transfer of the case to a Federal High Court in line with Bafarawa’s request.

But if for any reason Adoke feels that Bafarawa is wrong to have requested for the transfer of the case, we expect him to also let the people know this. Let us know why Bafarawa is wrong, if indeed, he is. Let us know why he is the only Ex-Governor that is being tried in a State High Court. If Adoke responds in whichever way, he would have saved himself and the office he occupies from allegations of complicity. But if he remains silent then he must be keeping a date with infamy.

Let us remind Adoke at this point that no condition is permanent. If he decides to play politics with the name and reputation of his fellow citizen, posterity will judge him harshly. This will make real sense to him when he is no longer occupying this same office. We advise him to be wise and act wisely too.

Ibrahim writes from Lafia, Nasarawa State. * Photo shows Adoke.   

Source News Express

Posted 07/05/2013 09:50:29 AM


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