Lawyers fault Gani Fawehinmi By ADESINA AIYEKOTI and RAZAQ BAMIDELETuesday, September 18, 2007
•Chief Gani Fawehinmi, (SAN)Photo: Sun News Publishing
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Lagos lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, (SAN) on Monday came under fire from members of Inner and Outer bar, for calling on President Umaru Yar’Adua to immediately remove the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mike Aondoakaa (SAN) from office.Chief Fawehinmi had anchored his call on the ground that the Attorney-General had constituted himself into a stumbling block in the war against corruption in the country.Among the top legal luminaries that countered Fawehinmi’s stance were professor Itsey Sagay (SAN) Mr Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), Mrs Abimbola Williams (SAN) Mrs Hairat Balogun, as well as Barristers Benson Ndakara, Adesina Ogunlana and Babatunde Ogala, chairman, Lagos State House of Assembly committee on judicial matters.Throwing his weight behind all the steps so far taken by the Federal Attorney General, Professor Sagay said the Minister had not gone outside the provisions of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution to warrant his sack by the President.Making reference to the decision taken by the Minister of Justice to take over the trial of former Governor Orji Kalu, Professor Sagay said the step was based on "the bedrock of this administration, which is the supremacy of the rule of law."Also countering Fawehinmi’s argument, Lagos based lawyer, Mr Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) said the fight against graft should not be left for the attorney general alone but that all Nigerians must join hands, adding: "I know the Attorney-General of the Federation as a fighter of corruption. All his actions have been constitutional and guided by law. Gani differs in opinion and strategy, there is no basis to call for his sack." Also, Mrs Hairat Balogun, former Attorney-General of Lagos State and a life bencher said nobody should call on the Federal Attorney General to resign his appointment or be sacked by the President. "He can resign on his own if he is convinced that he has done something unconstitutional," she said.Declaring that Chief Fawehinmi was expressing his opinion, Mrs Balogun, however, appealed to her colleagues to tread softly in order not to confuse the issue on hand.Mrs Abimbola Williams (SAN) described the call by Fawehinmi as unacceptable, saying nobody could ask the president to sack the attorney general without any justifiable reason. "The constitution created that office," she added.Asking the radical lawyer to leave the Attorney General alone, Benson Ndakara argued that Fawehinmi’s condemnation of the Justice Minister was highly misplaced. "Gani does not see anything wrong with the method of the EFCC and that is why he must be present at any EFCC gathering."He does not see anything wrong in selective justice being done by the commission. Today, some of the governors are facing trial, while some are walking the street with stolen money."Also condemning Fawehinmi’s call, a law journal publisher, Barrister Adeshina Ogunlana said he was not surprised that Chief Fawehinmi was criticising the attorney general because "as far as Gani is concerned, EFCC is an angel and they have no fault whatsoever."I think what the Attorney-General is trying to do now is to bring sanity to the whole system."Speaking further Ogunlana, argued that "calling for the sack of the Attorney General is very unfair. Gani Fawehinmi is patriotic, just as he is an example of extremism. And extremism should not be supported. You cannot be a democrat and be an impatient person."Babatunde Ogala in his view noted that Fawehinmi was being emotional on the issue. He described the call for Aondoakaa’s sack as prejudiced.