Thursday, 04 October 2007
Rule of Law Tainted-Coated With Impunity?
Written by Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
Spouting and mouthing the rule of law has become a cover and camouflage for impunity in Nigeria? It does appear as if a pattern of tainted preachments of the rule of law and due process is emerging, courtesy of Attorney General of our Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa (SAN).
First were his very public utterances and pronouncements, in which he demanded obeisance from the EFCC which led to an uproarious reactions from all segments of the Nigerian populations at home and abroad. What quickly followed was Mr. Andoakaa’s public squabbling with prosecutors from the EFCC, again, as is, customary with him, he in open court, engaged in a very public squabbles, quarrels and fights instead of inter departmental memos, emails or telephone calls or personal invitations to members of agencies of the federal government of Nigeria.
There is a consensus among Nigerians that corruption be fought most aggressively, most vigorously and rigorously . President YarAdua has repeatedly, and publicly committed himself to this consensus and purpose. The president has repeatedly re-dedicated himself to reforms, including the war against corruption. Inexplicably though, neither Mr. Kalu or Mr. Ibori have been doggedly pursued by prosecutors in Nigeria, except the EFCC, the EFCC which Mr. Andoaka overt actions and statements sent obvert and subliminal messages, regarding sacred cows who may not be made to account to Nigerians
Before Mr. Andoakaa became the AG, Nigerians knew about and wrote about and discussed the rule of law. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=ADHERENCE+TO+THE+RULE+OF+LAW+AND+DUE+PROCESS+AS+NIGERIA+ADVANCE+Adujie&btnG=Search The rule of law is nothing new! Mr. Andoakaa must be reminded that the rule of law and due process are fine legal ideals, principles and tenet of the law, which were not invented by him or by others, in the new political dispensation in Nigeria, just so, to enable them spirit acolytes out of prison.
Presently, in the name of the rule law and due process, it has begun to look as if, Mr. Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State, is at this time enjoying an undeserved reprieve from prosecution and the law. He is allowed to continue to bask and revel in his, in-your-face attitude, with stolen wealth, in arrogance and unmitigated impunity! All this, even after a 107 federal charges were leveled against this same Mr. Kalu.
Now comes the Mr. Onanefe James Ibori the former governor of Delta State, the "almost-ex-convict", who is alleged to have stashed millions of pound sterling in England including properties with values in hundred of millions pound sterling as well. According to published reports, the Attorney-General of our Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), personally wrote a letter in which he exonerated Mr. Ibori of any wrongdoings and therefore pushed the hands of a London court to defreeze and remove the embargo on Mr. Ibori’s assets. It will be recalled that the Southwark Crown Court in London had on Monday discharged a restraint order it granted on August 2 against Ibori, Erin Aviation and others, suspected of looting public treasuries in Nigeria
Nigeria’s Attorney General and Justice Minister, with a stroke of his pen, carte blanche, set Mr. Ibori and others in cahoots with him, free of money laundering in England and perhaps, the corrupt enrichment charge, that were clearly precursor to laundering money.
What motivated the AG to write that Mr. Ibori and his cohorts have no case to answer? Who does the AG work for, Nigerians or a cabal of thieves with affluence?
Why did the AG deny writing the letter which freed Mr. Ibori’s assets? Why did AG choose to hide under his polemically and semantically twisted difference between a letter to the Southwark Crown court, and a letter to Mr. Ibor’s lawyers, which a thinking AG would have known, or should have reasons to know, that such letter will invariably and inevitably end up being tendered in the Southwark Crown court and any other court on earth in defense of Mr. Ibori? The AG is dumb or disingenuous or both. How could he write a letter on behalf of Nigeria and deny it? How could he not anticipate the exculpatory nature of his weighty letter, which in effect, exonerates Mr. Ibori and cohorts?
The AG continues to argue strenuously, that he has not done anything to frustrate corruption cases against Nigeria public officials, but, every step of the way, we find that the AG has taken several steps, which contradicts his claimed stance against corruption.
The AG is seeking to cloak and shield himself with legal technicalities and mumbo-jumbo relying on Fred Egbe vs. the State, the Supreme Court held that it was wrong to charge a person to court and then start to look for evidence. The fact is, Mr. Ibori and his cohorts, had assets that were seized, frozen or embargoed as unexplained wealth or product of money laundering. The AG should tell Nigerians the source of Mr. Ibori’s millions of pounds in cash and other assets in England. Was Mr. Ibori a business magnate, baron or mogul between 1999 and 2007? What was Mr. Ibori’s net worth in 1999?
There were good reasons to freeze Mr. Ibori’s assets in England. It should be assumed that those reasons have not changed or cease to exist. It must also be stated that it is indeed common practice to sequester or put assets in escrow, where the assets owner or claimer is being investigated. This practice is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is a standard practice in the UK and US as well. The difference here is that, the AG, who is a part of Nigeria’s current government, and by extension, a continuation of reasonable public policies by other Nigerians in the previous Nigerian administration, previous AG and all, has wittingly aided and abetted the manipulation of a court in London for the benefit of Mr. Ibori, Mr. Ibori, another one of those who have contributed to keeping Nigeria at her knees with unbridled corruption and graft.
The letter issued by the AG is perhaps not illegal, but it is clearly inappropriate; it is indeed, grossly inappropriate! It is comical to think that Mr. Andoakaa wrote that letter to defense counsel, so that Mr. Ibori can tender it before his dentist in England, just so he could receive good dental care?
There are many actions in this world that are legal, but considered by all reasonable persons as highly inappropriate. Mr. Andoakaa has acted most inappropriately in this instance and many instances before this
It is matter of public record and general knowledge, the fact that it has taken Nigeria so long and a great expense, in cash and time, and so much more in efforts to retrieve looted Nigerian resources in America, England and Switzerland etc Efforts by Nigeria to retrieve money spirited abroad from Nigeria, especially during the President Obasanjo years. Nigerians are you aware, or ought to be aware, that Nigeria’s efforts, met with all manners of "prosecutorial-blockade" every step of the way, to the extent that the former Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was publicly critical and chastised some foreign governments for their Lackluster support for Nigeria’s loot-recoveries. These foreign government and their justice systems are perhaps informed by their self-interested delays in connection with Nigeria's loot recovery efforts (capital flight is how they see it) when Nigeria money leave their countries upon being recovered
Nigeria’s AG just committed a huge blunder which favors Mr. Ibori and his cohorts, persons who can now distribute or sequester those stolen millions and efforts to re-trace them is now made more difficult, arduous or nearly impossible. Mr. Andoakaa is often sounding like a robot just spewing dogmatically, as he is repeating rule of law and justice, while Nigeria’s public enemies go through the wide gates the AG has flung open.
I know of no Nigerian going out to the street to dance in praise of rule of law and justice being alive and well in Nigeria! If it essentially means all opulent and affluent looters will enjoy their looting unpunished.
Nigerians should demand that the AG explains why he issued the infamous letter to Mr. Ibori’s defenders, Ian Timlin (Partner) and Julie Thrower (Solicitor) counsel from a firm of City Dispute Resolution Solicitors, Speechly Bircham before reviewing the very public allegations against Mr. Ibori, allegations so public and notorious, this AG must be aware in both his personal and official capacity. Moreover, did the AG consult the EFCC and ICPC to determine or verify, whether or not, Mr. Ibori has no case to answer in Nigeria?
Is there any evidence that Mr. Andoakaa consulted or contacted Nigeria Police, EFCC and ICPC before issuing all-clear to Mr. Ibori lawyers, advantage Mr. Ibori? It can also be observed, that Mr. Andoakaa has been unusually efficient and speedy, in matters concerning Mr. Kalu and now, Mr. Ibori. Notice how quickly he responded to Mr. Ibori’s lawyers? How about some measure efficiency and speedy actions for poor Nigerians in detention without trial and are dying in decrepit prison conditions? Prison conditions in Nigeria are said to be abject and worse than squalid. How about the rule of law and due process for those Nigerians awaiting trial for years and still in detentions? 100,000 of them! Whose interest does Mr. Andoakaa represent? Nigeria or looters?
The AG’s actions and words, are in direct conflict with President YarAdua’s stances against corruption, in fact, the AG’s actions and words measured against the president’s, are mutually exclusive opposites! Why is the president retaining this AG? The president should clear the air. The president should inform Nigerians where he stands on the AG
According to published reports, Mr. Andoakaa wrote an exculpatory letter to Mr. Ibori’s lawyers in London, Mr. Andoakaa’s letter, in effect, amounted to a get-out-of-jail card for Mr. Ibori. Mr. Andoakaa’s letter was the foundational basis for the unfreezing of Mr. Ibori and his cohorts assets in England.
It is now incontrovertible that Mr. Andoakaa is not committed, dedicated and passionate about the hot-pursuit of Nigeria’s war on corruption. If anything, it is clear that Mr. Andoakaa has, every step of the way sought to undermine and pull the carpet off, of the feet of the EFCC, ICPC and now, the London prosecutor and court, in efforts to derail the well deserved punishments that accrued to Mr. Kalu and Mr. Ibori as a consequence of their egregious pillaging and plundering of Nigeria’s resources.
Notable public actions, utterances and pronouncements by Mr. Andoakaa have established him as a person , acting in collusion, connivance and in concert with elements, who do not have Nigeria’s interests. Mr. Andoakaa should informed that he is no longer in private legal practice, even that, there is an ethical standard and rules about conflicts of interest.
Discerning and reasonable Nigerians have therefore come to the conclusion that Mr. Andoakaa is a disservice to Nigeria and that President Umaru Yar’Adua must remove him forthwith or be forever tainted by the antics and ignominious actions of Mr. Andoakaa.
President YarAdua must dismiss or fire Mr. Andoakaa now and disassociate himself and his administration from the inappropriate, unacceptable and shameful conduct of Mr. Andoakaa.
Mr. Andoakaa must go!