Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, OFR, one of the senior advocates who represented the APC and president Buhari in the build up to 2015 general election expressed his displeasure with the modus operandi of the Buhari led APC government and the arrest of judges by security agencies.
Olanipekun who made his position know in a note titled “Buhari, also a beneficiary of legal technicalities” said there must total regard for court processes for sustainable democracy. Read his note below
“Some people don’t know and some pretend not to know that
law has its technicalities-both civil and criminal proceedings.
They talk of technicalities and say that lawyers delay cases,
look, without being immodest; I have been involved in a lot of
cases in this country. I have defended a lot of people. During
the run-up to the 2015 elections, I was one of the lawyers hired
on pro bono basis to defend the All Progressives Congress and
its candidate, Muhammadu Buhari. We employed all the tactics
available, employable and allowable in the legal profession; why
didn’t they blame us then? If we didn’t, the election would not
have held. If you do that today, some people, even within the
profession, will blame you. I know what I’m talking about.
The election was to hold on a Saturday and Justice Gabriel Kolawole
of the Federal High Court, Abuja, said he was going to deliver his
judgement on whether or not card readers should be used by the
Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday, two
days to the election. We filed preliminary objection, he overruled
it. I was in court with Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Akin Olujinmi
(SAN), and Kola Awodein, (when) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu sent an
aircraft to pick me in Akure, saying that if we were not in court,
the election would not hold.
There are things that need to be unveiled in this country. Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola (former Lagos State Governor), the Vice President (Prof. Yemi Osibajo), Lai Mohammed, the AGF (Abubakar Malami) were in the know. And Kolawole overruled us. Then he called the plaintiff and said, can you go ahead with originating summons? I will deliver my judgement tomorrow.
Like someone who was possessed, I rose up and said I was applying for stay of proceedings. Then the other lawyer interjected and asked for my formal application. I gave him two authorities offhand that I could apply orally. That was two days to the election. Kolawole said well, whatever it is; I would want to listen to you. He listened to me. We did it pro bono in the sense that the APC hasn’t paid us. Nobody even wrote a letter to say thank you. Then thereafter, he wrote a
ruling and granted stay of proceedings 48 hours to the election.
The Supreme Court later held that, though the card reader was a
good innovation, it was not yet in the law. Would Buhari have
been President if we had not done that? What could be more
technical than that? They filed action against Buhari, we looked
at it; we raised objections and we were dragging that. Is that not
technicality? And some people will now accuse me when I do it
for other people that I’m defending looters.
But when you do it for them, it is right; that is double standard. And what baffles me is that some high lawyers, who should know better, also accuse some lawyers of defending looters? To hell with anybody
who has looted the treasury. I believe in my profession and I
thank God for what I am. I am a fulfilled person and don’t want
any position from any government, but then government should
allow those of us who are privately engaged to do our work. In
our offices in Lagos and Abuja, we have over 75 members of
staff- professionals and supporting staff. We pay more than
what the government pays and don’t owe workers. A cleaner in
my office earns far more than what government calls minimum
And when you say someone is a looter, who is a looter? Anybody who loots will have his day in court and God will punish looters, but at the same time, judge not, so that you are not judged. And let the accused person defend himself. All religions give room for fair hearing. I grew up to know that when people came to my father to settle disputes, he would say ‘e je ko so tie, agba ti o gbo ejo enikan dajo, agba osika ni’ (let him say his side of the story; an elder who bases his judgement on only one side of the story is wicked). I grew up to know that. So you don’t want people to be heard? If that is the case, change the constitution. So once someone is accused, he is arrested and taken to prison. Then, abolish the courts. That is my position. And what goes around comes around. You may be the accuser today, tomorrow; it may be your turn to face accusations. Let the law take its course. It is tyrannical, dictatorial and smacks of
militarism when you start accusing lawyers who defend people.
You cannot have democracy without free speech and people
having access to courts. You cannot be the accuser, the lawyer
and the judge. They say lawyers and judges delay the
prosecution of looters, then if they have already been adjudged
looters, don’t prosecute them. It is only a court of law that can
come to the conclusion that someone has looted the treasury
after evidence has been produced.”
– Buhari, also a beneficiary of legal technicalities –Olanipekun