An Open Letter To The Attorney General, Micheal Aondokaa (SAN)

by Bayo Olupohunda

Dear Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Kaase Michael Aondokaa (SAN), in writing you this letter, let me quickly draw your attention to a book written by the German political Philosopher Jurgen Herbamas. Herbamas widely acclaimed book, Between Facts and Norms, published in 1996, was a theory of jurisprudence, an understanding of constitutional theory, and reflections on civil society and democracy.

At the heart of the book was an attempt to construct a new paradigm of politics that goes beyond, but without discarding, the liberal tradition. In this book Herbamas pointed out that legitimate law-making is itself generated through a procedure of public opinion and will-formation that produces communicative power; he asserts that this communicative power, in its turn, influences the process of social institutionalization.

Habermas contends that law is the primary medium of social integration in modern society, and is power that extracts obedience from its subjects. As power alone cannot grant it its legitimacy in modern society, law derives its validity from the consent of the governed. He enthused that “informal public opinion-formation generates ‘influence’. This influence, carried forward by communicative power, gives law it legitimacy, and thereby provides the political power of the state its binding force.”

But you seem to have neglected, since your assumption as the Chief Law Officer the place of public opinion and the mood of Nigerians as regards corruption. You seem to think that our laws exist in isolation. No wonder you are now being seen as anti-people despite your frequent chanting of rule of law. Your public perception is at an all time low because you have failed to recognise the intersection of public opinion and the law you practice.

I have also followed with keen interest your emergence as the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice in the cabinet of President Umar Musa Yardua, since your nomination from Benue State where you had practiced law since you left the University of Maiduguri, where according to you, you survived on austere meal of 0-0-1 (this much you attested to during your Senate confirmation with relish!). But I digress.

Your selection from Benue and subsequent confirmation make you a product of the retrogressive Federal Character policy that have characterized our national life and which has continued to put round pegs in square holes and promoted mediocrity in appointments to sensitive government positions that require high intellect and leadership. Your confirmation as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice was also a sham spectacle and has manifested in the way you have carried on as the Chief Law Officer of the country.

During your confirmation, I recalled that you took the podium with relish. Who wouldn’t? Your fellow Benue man was the Senate President who was also a factor in your emergence from Benue. Even the Senate President himself attested to the son-of-the soil factor in his famous refrain that what is good for the goose would also be good for the gander! (A euphemism for let my people go) You were confirmed with no hassles and asked to take the famous bow and left. So it can be safely said that you emerged not because you were the best man for the job. Your appointment was for political expediency just like the other appointees. But anyhow you have found yourself at the commanding heights of the legal world as the Chief Law Officer of the Federal Republic.

But since you assumed your role as the nation’s No 1 law officer, your mien and actions have constantly betrayed the fact that you revel in your good fortune. Never in your wildest of dreams did you think you could attain this enviable position, not amidst the plethora of the larger that life credentials of very senior lawyers and legal luminaries across the country. This was aptly displayed during the brouhaha that followed the Soludo naira redenomination; the lot fell on you to shoot down the naira policy and this you did with much gusto and pomposity to announce that you are now in charge- I, as the Chief Law Officer hereby suspends… You were in charge!

But that is the danger. It is growing by the day. It is also a pity that the reticent President Yar’adua does no know the pedigree of some of the appointees in his cabinet including you. This much can be seen in the list submitted for the post of ambassadors. Those men will murder our foreign policy just as you have continued the macabre drama of the absurd with your activities in the Justice Ministry.

It is now obvious that you do not have what it takes to occupy the highest office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. Never in our recent history has that office been brought to so much disrepute as you are now doing. Not even during the Bayo Ojo tenure as the Justice Minister in the last administration. Is it that you do not have what it takes or you have personal scores to settle?

You have been chanting rule of law to cover your personal grudges with the different agencies under your ministry. You want to constitute yourself into cog in the wheel of progress of the anti corruption agencies with your claim of rule of law. Instead of being a stabilizing force, you are indeed fueling the embers of discord and clandestinely promoting acts that will put the fight against corruption at bay.

You are also gradually boxing yourself into a corner. It is doubtful if you understand the dynamics and the working of the high office you occupy. Otherwise why did you choose to enmesh yourself in these controversies? You are to be blamed for it because you did not come to the office with a clear conscience to do justice to all without fear or favour. Isn’t it glaring that you have deliberately stalled the work of the EFCC to shield these former corrupt officers from justice? Four months after the initial rumblings what has happened?

What criminal proceedings have you initiated against corrupt officers since you came? Rather you have chosen to block investigations and shield those who have cases to answer from prosecution. It happened in the Kalu’s case. Now in the Ibori’s case you are also involved even when the case had met the basic principles of the Crown Prosecution Service basic principles when they make case decisions. In the Ibori’s case, the ground for investigation had passed the evidential and public interest test which formed those basic principles for instituting a case. Unfortunately, your now famous letter put paid to any progress that might be made on the case. These cases are not coincidence. You are obviously acting out a script using the now famous rule of law as a smokescreen and a decoy. But it will not last. It is not too clear if President Yar’dua knows. It is our hope that he doesn’t. If in the end you are acting the role of a mole in this administration, you would soon be found out.

Don’t be deceived. Nigerians are not impressed by your now famous cliché of rule of law. Your rating is at an all time low. Nigerians wants to see corrupts officers brought to book. Are you saying that all the former officials in the last dispensation are clean and do not have cases to answer? I won’t be surprised with your next move. I suspect you will tell Nigerians that suspicion of crime does not amount to committing the crime. You will soon ask us to bring evidence against corrupt officers. Even though the anti-corruption agencies have evidence. It does not matter. You are the Chief Law Officer no matter what anybody thinks. Your rule is supreme. If you don’t prosecute nobody will.

You are also going to run into a brick wall judging by the present. You are now bringing this administration into disrepute. Already, the administration carries the burden of illegitimacy foisted on hapless Nigerians by the April elections. You will soon crown it with the stamp of condoning corruption. So it will be double trouble for the present government. Your actions are an embarrassment to Nigerians. Since your assumption of office, Nigeria corruption rating has dipped. We are gradually slipping into the abyss.

Your actions are threatening to put an official stamp on corruption. But be reminded that the war against corruption is beyond you. It is bigger than your antics. The desire of the majority of Nigerians to see justice done will prevail in the end. In spite of your antics and scheming, truth will prevail. The wheel of the gods grinds slowly, but it still grinds. Nigeria is bigger than any man.

As a piece of advice please if you cannot prosecute those corrupt officers at least give the anti corruption agencies the needed support to do so. Why all these controversies? Why are you working at cross purposes with the anti corruption agencies? What really are the functions of an attorney general?

Nigerians are really getting agitated as a result of your actions. It is taking us back to the locust years. You have been in one controversy or the other since you came on board? Is that what your functions are as the attorney general? In the United States of America, Attorney General are known to initiate criminal proceedings against the enemy of the state be it corrupt government officers and other crimes.

It is indeed a thing of satisfaction for an attorney to prosecute with relish celebrated murder cases, corrupt officers, serious drugs offenders of the Trans borders Colombia and Mexican Cartel. You should take cue from these and act according to the dictates of your office. We want to see those who have looted our common patrimony brought to book. That is what you should be doing rather than writing letters that will absolves corrupt offenders.

I will end this letter but not without a word for the present administration. President Yar’dua cannot continue to play the ostrich while this house burns. Nigerians want to know where our President stands on issues. Our president also has to be wary of the type of men and women that are confirmed to hold positions in his cabinet. Doesn’t the President have the power to say know I can’t work with this man or woman? Must the president work with everybody that has been confirmed to work with him?

This much can now be seen in the new appointments for the ambassadorial positions. I suspect the President would soon confirm this jamboree. The result will be too glaring for all to see. This is one of the real reasons for our underdevelopment when appointments are made based on federal character, political affiliations and to compensate the boys.

For my dear Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, you must change your ways for the future does portends a great danger for the country as a result of your activities. The chicken will soon come home roost. My advice for you is to reconcile yourself with the dictates of your office and work in harmony with the other agencies to bring those that have looted this country to justice. Enough of this controversy. Stop carrying on as if you are against the quest to rid our country of corruption. Nigerians are waiting. Nigerians are watching. I wish you good luck in your future endeavours.

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