The Anti-Corruption Network, which last month petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan to fire the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, today asked the Minister to resign his office if he truly wants to allow the allegations against him to be investigated.
In a letter to the Inspector-General of Police, the Network dismissed as “totally uncalled for and unwarranted,” his decision to investigate a petition which was addressed to the President.
Last week, the police invited Mr. Dino Melaye, the Executive Secretary of the group, to appear on May 8 to help the police with their investigations of the allegations.
The Network cited the absurdity that the report of an investigation conducted by the police would be referred to the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation in the Federal Ministry of Justice headed by the Minister.
“This will totally negate the fundamental principle that a man cannot be a judge in his own case,” it said. “The mere fact that the Attorney General has an interest in the outcome of the investigation is sufficient to cause his automatic resignation or removal from office to avoid any undue influence or bias.”
The Network drew attention to a statement in Vanguard Newspaper of May 11 where one Ahmed Raji, speaking on behalf of the Minister, stated that the letter of invitation sent to Mr. Melaye by the police was at the instance of his client, the Attorney General of the Federation, and not at the discretion of President Jonathan.
It quoted Mr. Raji as saying, “Following the tendentious allegations made by one Mr. Dino Melaye against the person of our Client, we wrote a letter dated the 23rd of April, 2013 to the Inspector General, wherein we requested the Inspector General to cause an investigation to be carried out in respect of all allegations made by the said Mr. Dino Melaye. The current exercise being embarked upon by the Police is therefore at the instance of our Client and not the President as being insinuated”.
Mr. Raji said he specifically wanted to dispute the headline in the publication contained in SaharaReporters of May 10 in that respect, referring to the allegations by the Anti-Corruption Network as “nothing but criminal libel.”
The Anti-Corruption Network reminded Mr. Adoke of elementary law, that where a person feels aggrieved by apublication he considers defamatory, his redress is in the court of law.
“As a public officer, if the Attorney General of the Federation feels injured by the petition of the Anti–Corruption Network, he should have instructed his lawyer to file a libel suit in a High Court instead of using the police to frame our client for criminal libel as alluded to in the press statement issued by the said Mr. Ahmed Raji SAN.”
In that regard, it cited the case of Arthur Nwankwo v the State (1985) 6 NCLR 288 wherein the Court of Appeal held, “Those in public office should not be intolerant of criticism. Where a writer exceeds the bounds there should be a resort to the law of libel where the plaintiff must of necessity put his character and reputation in issue”.
The Network therefore called on Mr. Adoke, if he is convinced he has been defamed without any justification to file a libel suit in an appropriate court where it will have the opportunity to prove the allegations of corruption, incompetence and abuse of office leveled against him.
Today’s letter by the Anti-Corruption Network did not say, but seemed to suggest that Mr. Melaye and the Network simply ignored the invitation to Police Headquarters on May 8.