Mike Ozekhome Lawyer disagrees with Falana over immunity Governors

The human rights lawyer also said immunity does not extend to electoral fraud.

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Mike Ozekhome (SAN).   play

Mike Ozekhome (SAN).

 

(nigeriacamera)
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Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Ozekhome, has disagreed with his learned colleague and Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) over the issue of immunity for Governors.

Falana had earlier said nobody is above the law, adding that any Governor or President who commits a crime could be arrested even while in office.

The human rights lawyer also said immunity does not extend to electoral fraud.

Ozekhome however disagreed saying “He said that you can institute a legal process against governors because they are also sued during election petitions. And I disagree with him on that because election petitions are too generic, they are generic because they are in a class of their own. They are hybrid, neither civil or criminal procedures. That is why it is the constitution itself that gives the right for a governor to be sued when they are challenging his mandate, it is not the lower laws like an Act of parliament like EFCC. EFCC is an act of parliament which is millions of miles lower than the provisions of the constitution. And any provision from the EFCC Act or money laundeiring Act which is inconsistent with the provision of the constitution is null and void by nature of section 1, sub-section 3 of the same 1999 constitution.”

Adding that “It is the same constitution in section 308 that says that when it comes to civil or criminal procedure, you can never sue the governor and such should not be entertained in any court of Law.

“Contrary to Falana’s argurment, that immunity is not absolute, it is totally absolute.

“In the case of the IGP versus Gani Fawehinmi which he cited, the Supreme Court upheld that the governor can be investigated; it, however, said that you would have to wait till he vacates his office before you move any court process against him. That was the decision of that court.”

Speaking further, the lawyer who is also representing Governor Ayo Fayose in his case against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said “Falana also said that the Money Laundering Act can also apply against a sitting governor, that is wrong. The money laundering Act is an act of the parliament which is as low as the EFCC Act and the two of them must bow down to the Kabiyesi (Lord) of our laws which is the 1999 consitution (as amended in 2011). And that constitution in its section 308 says that whether under the money laundering Act or the EFCC Act, you cannot move against Fayose or any other governor, vice-president or President or deputy-governor.

“The third point by Falana that immunity is not total has been debunked because section 308 of the contitution overrides all the Acts of parliament such as the Money Laundering and the EFCC Act.

“He also said that governors of Nigeria are not immune from the procedures of the international criminal court; of course that is outside the jurisdiction of Nigeria. International criminal court operates worldwide and even in that court, all the people who are being tried are usually tried for war crimes or crimes against humanity only when they have vacated office not when they are still in office.”

Ozekhome  also said “And even at that, these international courts operate internationally and we are in Nigeria. The supreme law of Nigeria or the Kabiyesi (Lord) of all laws in Nigeria is the consitution and by virture of the section 1 sub section 3 of this constitution, which says this law shall be supreme and if any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this consitution, that law shall be null and void.

“So, none of all the arguements Falana has canvassed therefore can show that immunity can be watered down.

“I think what the EFCC is trying to do is to be clever by half by now allegedly obtaining a court order directly against Zenith bank plc; they forgot that some sections of the EFCC Act, for example section 28, 30 say that before you can freeze an account of any person, you must first of all arrest the person and after that, insitute a criminal proceedings against the person before you can then get an order of the court to freeze the person’s accounts. The simple question is, can you arrest Fayose now? Or insitutte any criminal proceedings against him? The answer is no.”

“So, what the EFCC has done from every angle is illegal and unconsitutional. And they are doing all this after the illegal freeezing because they know they are in a mess.

“If they feel the law is inadequate, too bad! they have to first go to the National Assembly and ask them to remove section 308 which is the immunity clause or better still wait till October 16, 2018 when Fayose would vacate office as governor before they can come after him. Unless they want us to now believe that we are now living in an hobbesian state of nature where life is short, nasty and brutish,” he added.

Ozekhome also called on President Buhari to implement the recommendations of the 2014 national conference organised by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

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