Dino Melaye on Appointment of Awomolo SAN as Lead Counsel in Prosecution of Farouk/Otedola

Speech delivered by the Executive Secretary of the Anti-Corruption Network, Otunba Dino Melaye at a press conference on the appointment of Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, as the lead counsel of the Federal Government to prosecute the Farouk Lawan/Femi Otedola subsidy bribery scam.

Good afternoon gentlemen of the press: This is a brief press conference by the Anti-Corruption Network – a non-governmental organization that is championing the cause of corruption and all forms of injustices in Nigeria. Without belabouring us with unnecessary commentaries I will go straight into the text of our press conference.

The press conference today has to do with the Farouk Lawan saga, that today has become a very serious issue and the Federal Government through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation appointed a counsel to prosecute the Lawan/Femi Otedola scam and the counsel is in the person of Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN. We as an organization have problems with the appointment of this counsel and this press conference is to give reasons why we are against the appointment of this counsel as the counsel of the Federal Government and indeed you and I in the defence of our looted funds. I will start by quoting from Leadership newspapers online of July 5,, 2012. It reported the case of the Integrated Oil and Gas Limited against the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Federal Republic of
Nigeria.

“The Integrated Oil and Gas Limited had asked the court to make an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) from acting on the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on petroleum subsidy of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria pending the final determination of the case filed by it. And that case was before Justice Gladys Olotu.”

In that case the Federal Government was represented by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN and   while the case was on-going Justice Gladys Olotu gave 20 minutes to the counsels to discuss. At the end of the day, Chief Awomolo who is supposed to be representing the Federal Government and indeed the Attorney-General of the Federation against Integrated Oil and Gas Limited that has been asked to refund the sum of N2.6billion public money stolen. Chief Awomolo colluded with the counsel of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited and agreed to the position of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited that an interlocutory injunction be granted that there should be no arrest, no detention, no prosecution, and no refund to the Federal Government until
the determination of the suit. This to me is an aberration. A man that is supposed to be defending the masses of this country, that is supposed to be defending the Federal Government colluded with the lawyer of Integrated Oil and Gas and agreed that there should be no prosecution, there should be no arrest, and there should be no refund. And that is the position that the other party actually came to court to seek; to get an injunction stopping all these and you say you are the lawyer of the federal government and you accepted these terms and that was how Justice Gladys Olotu granted that injunction. The same Awomolo is now the same person that is being called upon to come and defend the Federal Government in the case of Farouk Lawan. We see it as a deliberate ploy to water down the issue and completely dismiss it.

Again, if you go online, you will find out that National Mirror on the March 22, 2012 in a case of N6billion fraud at the national judicial Institute. This case was filed against Justice Umaru Eri the administrator of National Judicial Institute over the embezzlement and misappropriation of N6billion taxpayers’ money. Again chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN was in court to defend Justice Eri in another case of corruption against the Federal Government of Nigeria. Justice Eri through Awomolo asked the court to stop the probe and the on-going trial of the N6billion fraud allegation.  This same Awomolo canvassed that position and asked the court to stop ICPC from probing that matter. Unfortunately, Justice Abdul Kafarati granted the request of Chief Awomolo in
stopping ICPC from investigating and probing the missing N6billion. A man with such character is the one invited again by the Attorney General of the Federation to come and defend the Federal Government ion the case of Farouk Lawan.

Yet again, if you go to Vanguard Online of the June 17, 2005, the same Chief Awomolo the case of Tafa Balogun versus EFCC pronounced that the EFCC is an illegal body with no powers, to arrest, investigate and prosecute. The same Chief Awomolo in defending the former Inspector general of Police, Tafa Balogun over 50 count charges of money laundering and failure to declare his assets defended Tafa Balogun and actually filed before the court for determination that the EFCC is an illegal body and so they lack the of arrest and prosecution. Today the same Chief Awomolo is the invited to come and defend the Federal government in the case of Farouk Lawan and the oil thieves.

In the case of the Federal Government against the Governors in the issue of the Sovereign Wealth Fund which is a fund that the Federal government was supposed to create from the Excess Crude Account and the essence is to create a Sovereign National Wealth Fund where monies will be deducted for infrastructural development of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by providing social amenities and incentives for the poor masses of this country. Chief Awomolo was part of that case as the governors’ lawyer and counsel and asking the court not to grant the decision of the federal government. In that case he was against the Federal Government; he was against the masses of this country because this Excess Crude Account is a conduit pipe for these governors. They collect it. They don’t use it for anything. They
spend it. So the Federal Government was trying to create a fund so that that fund would now service social amenities and infrastructure but Awomolo was in court in that matter.

Awomolo ignored his knowledge in the case of Gani Fawehinmi versus Inspector General of Police. The Supreme Court had decided in this matter that the President and Governors can be investigated despite the fact that they have immunity. But Chief Awomolo ignored this position and went ahead asking the court to stop the position of the federal Government in the interest of these governors.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is not all. In the case of N32.8billion police pension scam that involves six Nigerians who stole N32.8billion police pension scam, Awomolo again was the counsel of these six people. He was in court to defend their corruption and embezzlement case against the EFCC and indeed against the Federal Government.

I also recall that Chief Awomolo was also the counsel and lawyer of Hon Dimeji Bankole in the case of EFCC against Dimeji Bankole for misappropriation of N9billion taxpayers’ money in the House of Representatives.  He asked the court to quash all cases against Dimeji Bankole and in support for corruption. I want to say again that Chief Awomolo is the lawyer of the Independent National Electoral Commissions (INEC). In fact as INEC counsel, Chief Awomolo is heading a consortium of lawyers to collude with INEC to defend corrupt politicians over dubious election matters. And it is unfortunate that INEC has a legal department in Abuja and in all the 36 states of the Federation. INEC has lawyers in all their legal departments but yet they waste money on Awomolo and
others. As I speak to you, Prof Attahiru Jega’s administration has spent close to N1billion in paying Awomolo and the other lawyers. Then what is the essence of the legal departments of INEC that exist in the Federal Capital Abuja and all the states of the federation.

“In view of his pro-corruption position, he is going to mess up the Farouk Lawan’s case.

We therefore call for the immediate replacement of Chief Adegboyega Awomolo as the counsel and representative of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in this Farouk Lawan’s case. We are not unaware that as a lawyer he can decide to take on any case but what we are saying is that law must be practiced in public interest. What we are saying is that you cannot appropriate and reprobate. What we are saying is that in this particular case there is conflict of interest. What we are saying is that the Nigerian people deserve a lawyer with a positive antecedent, a lawyer that has not colluded or supported corruption in the past to attend to this matter because the battle to salvage our country, the battle to recover this looted fund is a battle of no retreat no surrender. And the
Anti-Corruption Network will do everything practically possible to make sure that this matter is followed up to a logical conclusion. We will not allow anyone to be hired to mess up this very tangible case that we want to use as a springboard for economic revival and renewal.

I want to say also that we are particularly sceptical why the Nigerian police will conclude a report and then pass it to the Attorney-General of the Federation. There is no extant law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that says after investigation and report ready of any crime committed, the report should be taken to the Attorney General of the Federation for consideration first. The Nigeria Police have powers of prosecution and that is why immediately they arrest a criminal they conduct their investigation and charge the person to court. Something is fishy. Something is not right and we are not comfortable with the Nigeria Police taking that report to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

However, we also want to say that apart from the report, that we are seeing an end that only Farouk Lawan and the Clerk of the Ad Hoc Committee will be charged. The Federal Government is not charging Femi Otedola. Instead Femi Otedola is going to appear in court as a witness. We want to say the Anti-Corruption Network from our investigation have concluded that there was no sting operation in this matter because it is universally acclaimed that anywhere there is sting operation, there must be evidence. In this case Farouk Lawan was allegedly given money but there is no physical money to show anybody that this is what was recovered from Farouk Lawan. In every sting operation, you catch the culprit with the exhibit. That is what you call sting operation. So we are saying that Femi Otedola, Farouk Lawan and the Clerk of
the Ad-Hoc committee must be charged, must be prosecuted and let it be the responsibility of the court to decide who is not guilty.

So we will stop at nothing to cry and shout, to protest vehemently until Femi Otedola is charged alongside Farouk Lawan in the interest of justice and in the interest of taxpayers’ money that has been embezzled.

Finally, we are calling on Chief Adegboyega Awomolo to disqualify himself from this matter or the Attorney General of the Federation replace him as the counsel of the Federal Government in this matter because we have no other country to call our own. Democracy will continue to be practiced as government of the people, by the people and for the people and not government of the greedy, by the greedy and for the greedy. I want to thank you very much. We will answer any question if there are but basically this is the position of the Anti-Corruption Network and we will continue in our quest for building and new Nigeria and in protecting the masses of this country and exposing all forms of corruption anywhere we find it.

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