The president of the African Bar Association (AfBA), Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo, has charged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the petitions against the Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Uwaifo stressed that the president must sanction the probe if indeed, he wants to prove that the anti-graft war is not selective as alleged by some Nigerians, adding that having such individual as the head of his party is a stain on him (Buhari). “Even though I can give a good mark to the government for the anti-corruption fight, there are so many areas, where they are failing. It is true that a lot of members of the ruling party have not been touched.
“The chairman of the ruling APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole has a mountain of petition against him. Has he been summoned by EFCC to answer to the petitions? Is it not a stain on Mr. President to be harbouring a man on whom a petition has been written against? Those who are accusing the president of being selective also have a point.
“The petitions are many. When I visited the EFCC chairman last time, I mentioned it. If the Buhari government says they are not selective, let the EFCC start the probe of the petition against Oshiomhole, then we will know that they are very serious”, he said in a media parley in Lagos.
Adding: “We know that there are so many other cases but that is the chairman of the ruling party. Mr. Ibrahim Magi is one of the most effective EFCC chairmen I have seen in recent times. I give him kudos, but he can no longer continue to keep quiet over the petitions against Oshiomhole.”
Still on the anti-corruption fight, Uwaifo, who was flanked by AfBA media adviser, Mr. Osa Director and the president of the African Women Lawyers Association, Mrs. Mandy Asagba at the parley, acknowledged that although few governors have gone to prison for their past misdeeds, the system is too slow. He said: “Nigerians also encourage corruption. We need to understand that corruption is inimical to the development of the country and if we don’t follow due process, we will never get out of the mess we are into.
“Is it not too much for the lawmakers to earmark N37billion for the renovation of the National Assembly in a country where workers are demanding N30,000 minimum wage and the government said it cannot pay?”Talking about the legal profession in Nigeria, Uwaifo said it is passing through its lowest ebb. According to him, there are rising cases of lawyers defrauding clients and forging affidavits, taking frivolous matters to clog the courts and swearing to false affidavits for clients.
“Even senior advocates and senior lawyers are involved. The legal profession has not risen up to the challenges of modern day criminality because a lot of us who become lawyers nowadays are not vetted.“We have people who went to night school, motor-park touts; people who were bricklayers, drivers and people of shoddy characters are all becoming lawyers. The legal profession ought to raise its bar with a view to checking these emerging trends.
“Of recent, the bad eggs in the judiciary are beginning to buckle up because they are fewer than those who are good. My recommendation is that the General Bar Council, with a view to arresting the emerging trend, will need to redo our rules of professional conduct in such a way that it teaches you why you are picking up a case. “That is how it is in every country. I can’t see what I am telling you happen in Zambia, South Africa or Lesotho.”
“So how do we want to get good judges because it is from lawyers you get the judges and some lawyers become politicians?” He asked. Also commenting on the crisis in Edo State House of Assembly, Uwaifo stated that the issue was mismanaged by politicians, who do not obey the laws of the land.
His words: “According to our constitution, everybody is under the law. The president, the National Assembly and governors are not above the law. Once there is a crisis, everybody subjects his interest under the rule of law. That is how our democracy can flourish. “The matter concerning Edo State legislature was before the court and the court made a proclamation that if the governor inaugurates the House afresh, it would prolong the tenure of the Assembly in clear violation of the constitution.“Politicians should have obeyed the court and resolve the problem amicably. If 14 members of the House claim that they are in the majority, they should join the House and impeach the speaker with their numbers. “Things must be done legitimately. We cannot be forming factions and expect to grow.”