By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – A former spokesperson to Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo state, Mr John Mayaki has hit back at supporters of the governor who claim that his (Mayaki’s) petition against the governor to the Code of Conduct Bureau CCB was dead on arrival as the state chief executive enjoys an all-round constitutional immunity.
In a statement sent to Vanguard Tuesday in Abuja, Mayaki recalled how the CCB had once investigated then President Olusegun Obasanjo and his vice, Atiku Abubakar with a view to prosecuting them if found wanting.
According to him, those in the camp of Mr Obaseki are claiming that as Governor, he is immune from prosecution, “therefore, John Mayaki’s petition is dead on arrival. But this is not the case, as evidenced by the CCB and CCT act, as well as clear historical precedence”.
Mayaki insisted that there is no need for endless legal debates beyond the fact that the immunity conferred by section 308 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria already set restriction by allowing for the investigation and trial of protected public officers in Election Petition Tribunal and the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“For non-legal minds who may struggle to understand this unambiguous fact, we can turn to history and learn from the case of Gani Fawenhinmi Vs President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005 when the erudite lawyer and human activist dragged a sitting President before the Code of Conduct Bureau for breach of code of conduct, corruption and abuse of power on the issue of 6.5 billion naira reportedly realized then by the President at the launching of his Presidential Library in Abeokuta.
“The then Director of Investigation at the Code of Conduct Bureau, M.G. Buba, sent an accompanying letter to the late Gani Fawehinmi acknowledging the receipt of the petition and affirming that the Bureau had commenced investigations upon which a trial would be instituted if the President was found guilty.
“Similarly, in 2007, the Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, was also petitioned by the then-Attorney General at the Code of Conduct Bureau where he was made to answer to the charges.
“Both instances are clear indications of the fact that the immunity a public officer like Godwin Obaseki enjoys does not grant them a carte blanche in office to institute acts of illegality or abuse their powers.
“The CCB and CCT exist to maintain a high standard of morality in the conduct of government’s business and to ensure that the actions of and behavior of public officers conform to the highest standards of public morality and accountability, with its enabling Act empowering both agencies to investigate and try public officers even when in office and supposedly enjoying immunity”, he stated.