The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, has claimed ignorance of his own affidavit to scuttle the use of Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) in Nigeria’s elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a press statement on Wednesday in response to the SaharaReporters’ story, Mr. Adoke stated that the two affidavits which were filed by his own staff in the Ministry of Justice without his permission, but that he was accepting responsibility for the incident.
In the story, which we published yesterday, we reported that in one of two affidavits aimed at positioning President Goodluck Jonathan to win next month’s election, Mr. Adoke argued that if the election was conducted using the cards, the “constitutional right of the many eligible voters would be taken away from them,” and that the election “is likely to be unsuccessful if rigid use of the Permanent Voters’ Card is carried out.”
We also reported that in a second affidavit, Mr. Adoke also argued that “the use of card readers and/or any other machine at the general elections must encourage eligible voters to vote without being deprived in any way.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Adoke denied knowledge of the affidavits.
“While, the deponent, (Lawrence Illop) and Messrs Taiwo Abidogun and N.S. Odusola who signed the Written Address in Support of the Counter Affidavit are staff of the Federal Ministry of Justice, I wish to state that the Officers did not avail me the opportunity of perusing or vetting the Affidavit and Written Address before they were filed,” he claimed.
He stated that in the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General is normally availed copies of all court processes prepared in reply to suits against the Office and his opinion first obtained especially in sensitive suits such as the one in question before such processes are filed, but not in the current case.
He further stated that although the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Independent National Electoral Commission are co-defendants in the suit [No. FHC/ABJ/06/15] instituted by the Society For Advancement & Protection of Public Rights seeking the interpretation of sections 77 (2) and 112 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as well as section 9(5) of the Electoral Act, “I wish to categorically state that I was not aware of the contents of the Counter Affidavit deposed to by Lawrence Illop and did not authorize it.”
Blaming the officers responsible for not adhering to procedure, Mr. Adoke said he had directed the processes to be withdrawn to enable an appropriate response to be filed to the originating summons.
He announced that a query is to be issued to the officers concerned.