June 17, 2014

ADVICE TO JONATHAN: SAN faults Clark on Adoke


ABUJA—A constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mr. Sebastine Hon, yesterday, faulted the recent call by prominent leader of the Ijaw nation, Chief Edwin Clark, for the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, to be sacked from office for giving wrong advice to President Goodluck Jonathan.

Chief Clark had maintained that Adoke, being the AGF, wrongly advised President Jonathan on the nature of state of emergency to be declared in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

According to the Ijaw leader, the AGF ought to have advised the President to sack the political structures in the three states, rather than just abridging certain freedoms of the citizens of those states as it was the situation now.
However, in a statement he issued in Abuja, yesterday, Mr. Hon, insisted that Chief Clark was wrong.

He said: “I think the Elder Statesman is getting it wrong here. First, the insinuation he is making is that the President has no brain of his; hence takes the advice of his lieutenants, hook, line and sinker.
“Secondly, Chief Clark is not a cabinet member of the Presidency; hence he is not expected to be privy to internal memos exchanged between the President and his cabinet Ministers.

“What Chief Clark is doing now portends grave danger for the sanctity of the hallowed office of the President of Nigeria, as it shows. If what Chief Clark is doing is right, that sensitive information is available to outsiders in the scheme of officialdom.”

“This should not be tolerated, I must say without the slightest equivocation.  In any case, if it is true that Mr. Adoke advised the President not to torpedo the political structures in the three affected states in the name of declaration of a state of emergency and Mr. President accepted that advice, as is evident now, then both officials must be commended for keeping faith with the tenets of the constitution.

“For, there is nothing in section 305 or any other portion of the constitution that empowers the President of Nigeria to overthrow elected political structures at the State level. There is nothing suggestive or supportive of that extreme action by a sitting President under our own constitutional democracy.

“There is no such power vested in the President under sections 5(1), 130 and all other enabling provisions of the Constitution on the executive powers of the President.

“To state it more explicitly, just as constitutional democracy is guaranteed the office of the President, which therefore places an embargo on removal of a sitting President through unconstitutional means, so are the constitutional structures of the various states so protected.

“Indeed, what Chief Clark and other public commentators seem to forget is that section 1(2) of the Constitution prohibits in absolute terms the ‘governance’ or ‘taking control’ of the Government of Nigeria “or any part thereof” by any other means apart from the means provided for in the constitution. “The trio of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa are ‘part of Nigeria;’ hence no person or authority can impose any rule in those States apart from the one permitted by the Constitution, id est, through the ballot box.

“I wish to state that the enigmatic confrontation between the Boko Haram insurgents and the Government and people of Nigeria is so far not yet a constitutional problem but is essentially a military cum political conundrum, which needs to be solved at that level.

“True, the Governments of those affected States are ‘political’ structures, they are more of constitutional creations than bare political creations; hence the Constitution must be respected by all.”