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Aondoakaa : In Akpamgbo’s infamous footsteps

By Oqwei Lakemfa
MICHEAL Kaase Aondoakaa, Attorney General and Minister of Justice until shoved aside on February 9, reminds me of the infamous Clement Akpamgbo. He held the same portfolio in the insidious military regime of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.

That regime which brought the country to its knees was like a chronic debtor who fixes repayment to what he considers far off dates only for the dates to dawn on him and he makes a new vow to pay on a later date. Such cunning and brazen debtors have no intention of paying their debts and would go to any length, including criminality and if necessary, murder to ensure they do not pay their debts.

The Babangida regime after overthrowing the admittedly pig-headed  but comparatively honest and patriotic Buhari-Idiagbon regime   in 1985, had fixed 1990 as date to hand over power to civilians. When the date drew near, it moved it forward by two years.

With the approach of 1992, it moved the transition date to January 1993, then to August 1993.
But with no intention of handing over, the regime set out to scuttle the presidential elections which were due for June 12, 1993. As part of the delay tactics, it had dissolved voluntarily established political parties and imposed its own. It had cancelled presidential primaries and banned all the leading aspirants. Now it had run out of options, that was when it turned to use the judiciary to scuttle its fraudulent  transition programme.

This was where Akpamgbo was to be quite useful. For selfish ends, he was willing to employ his legal training, official position and connections with the judiciary to destroy the country. Two days before the elections, criminal gangs  that had been  established to truncate any move towards a democratic process, were handed a judgement in the night, about 9.30pm by a pliant  Justice Bassey Ikpeme cancelling the elections. But it was too late and the populace was in no mood for such dishonesty.

The elections went on and Moshood Kashimawo Abiola was coasting home when Akpamgbo produced a joker. With all the results in and Abiola having won, Justice Dahiru Saleh of the Abuja High Court ruled four days after the elections, that the National Electoral Commission should not announce the official results. He went on to declare the elections null and void.

Akpamgbo as Attorney General  was on queue to instruct the electoral boss, Humphrey Nwosu to obey the Saleh order.
When mass protests in which the regime slaughtered hundreds of Nigerians on the streets ensued, Babangida could no longer manipulate the process to continue in power, so with his gang, he planned a temporary “step aside” from power.

This again was where Akpamgbo put his dubious services at the disposal of the gang.  He helped to midwife the establishment of an illegal and rickety Interim National Government (ING). He personally was a signatory to that piece of thrash which empowered the ING to “rule by decrees”.

Akpamgbo was one of two lawyers who supervised the writing of the ING constitution. After helping to set the country on fire, he went into oblivion and like  Justice Ikpeme, died unsung having been used, dumped and thrown in the trash can of history.

Since the infamous Akpamgbo, no other Attorney General of the Federation has helped to heighten the political temperature so much, dragged that office and  the bench through so much mud and exposed himself to so much scorn than Michael Aondoakaa.

The issue at stake was not that President Umaru Yar’Adua became ill; all human beings fall sick. The question was not that the President should resign or be impeached because he is sick.  It was simply that  in accordance with the Constitution, civilised practice, international convention and in the interest of the country, the Vice President who was elected on the same platform, should act as president until the incumbent is well enough to return to his duty post.

But surprisingly Aondoakaa and a gang in power decided to problematise this simple, innocuous issue and bring the country to a boiling point. He became  the gladiator of the gang  which insisted that the country be run by proxy, arguing that with the President on a Saudi Arabia sick bed for over 70  days, there is no vacuum in governance. For him the President can be outside the country for years and still preside over the country.

He took the battle to one court or the other, speaking from both sides of his mouth. At press conferences and interviews  where he was constantly sweating profusely, he swore that the President was medically fit, even when the contrary was the case.

Aondoakaa as Attorney General of the Federation made himself the chief priest of an incestuous state religion that believes in force-feeding the populace on a diet of falsehood.

He told the country that Vice President Goodluck Jonathan was acting when he knew this was not the case. As we all knew, the latter did not have the constitutional powers of an acting president, therefore important matters of state were left unattended to.

When his cabinet colleague, Professor Dora Akunyili  pointed this out in a memo and acknowledged that the President is sick, Aondoakaa became so desperate that he tried his hands on  blackmail  by publicly accusing her of  misdeeds in her previous public office.

Even when the chips were down and the entire country united behind the governors and the National Assembly to rescue the country from what had become an hostage situation, a now power drunk and tipsy Aondoakaa would not give up on his ungodly mission. He said the National Assembly has no such powers.

Now things are cooling down, the Acting President is in place, the country’s wheels are beginning to turn again. In this new light,  Aondoakaa has the opportunity to retrace his footsteps so  he doesn’t end up like Akpamgbo.


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