NO REGRETS SERVING YAR'ADUA â€“ AONDOAKAA
Former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mike Aondoakaa (SAN), has said that he has no regret whatsoever about the roles he played during the events of the ill health that led to the death of ex-President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.
He maintained he did all that for his love for the country. While correcting the impression that he was one of the most powerful ministers at the time, the former AGF said it was the constitution that was powerful and not him.
'First, let me correct the impression that I was one of the most powerful ministers. I was one of the least powerful ministers because my own duty was guided by the constitution. It was the constitution that was very powerful not me. So, I cannot say I was one of the most powerful ministers.
'Secondly, the circumstance that started from November 23, 2009 and culminated in February 12, 2010 was unfortunate. It was something I would wish never happened to this nation. It was a very trying time because what happened was an incident that would occur once in a lifetime. When it occurred, it was very difficult to manage. It was really a strange situation, a situation the constitution did not particularly envisage. It was a tough time.
I am very happy that the new leadership had tried to move the country forward but not looking back on what happened. The new leadership had moved the country beyond the unfortunate incident and that was the most important thing. And that could have informed my belief that personally, people in this country have a notion that when they are in government, the government is good but when they are out of that government, that government becomes bad. I was defending the existence of that government because that government should not be seen to have collapsed. Luckily, God in His own wisdom made it possible that the government did not collapse.
'Whether I am inside the government or not, the history of this administration must have my name that within this tenure, I was a part player. I would look at myself with pride if the government succeeds. If the government does not succeed, whether I am inside the government or not, history will judge me among those who are there now that our own tenure of four years was a flop. That has been the basis upon people to please support President Jonathan and let him deliver the dividends of democracy.
'I don't see myself thinking I am a most privileged Nigerian than others, who believe that once they are not in the system, the system will collapse. I see myself that God gave me the opportunity to serve. If I am not there, God has given the other people who have come, who are equally Nigerians, who are equally qualified, the opportunity to serve. The beauty of it is that they will correct the mistakes some of us could have made when we were there. I think that is what governance is all about. And that is why I am not looking for anything but I am being consistent that this administration developed the seven-point agenda; this administration has rolled out the seven-point agenda and I have seen progress in it. And that is why I have been saying we should give support to ensure that the seven-point agenda is actualized so that Nigerians can be happy.
That is what I stand for whether I am in government or not, I feel that it was part and parcel of what we started together.'
The High Court in Calabar, Cross River State, made a declaration that you were barred from public office. How do you view the legality of this judgment?
Many senior lawyers had already commented on it. It was a hopeless position. The judge himself on record of the court on page three of the judgment said I was not served. Then he said the lawyer from the Ministry of Justice should represent me. I was no longer the Attorney-General, how can you ask somebody to represent me when I am already out of the office? That is the paradox of it. I am no longer an Attorney-General.
'Somebody who appeared in the court dissociated himself from me and said I was appearing only for the Attorney-General but not Mike Aondoakaa. Yet, you said go ahead and represent him. If I was in my village, how would I still be acting as Attorney-General?
'One thing that shocked me is that he was talking about a case that my law firm acted in, in 1995 to a community in Akwa-Ibom. Now, one of the members of the community had a case with Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and because that guy was the one who retained my law firm in a private capacity, I took side with him. It was the most outrageous thing a lawyer could do. In 1995, I was not even in Makurdi, I was in Gboko. How would I have known somebody in Akwa -Ibom?
'Then he was talking about compensation of Utam - Ukpan community that I was to pay that compensation with N415 million judgment debt, and therefore, that lawyer promised to give me something and since I acted in private capacity before, I insisted that he must remain a member of the House of Representatives. That judgment was paid in 2006 by Bayoji before I became Attorney-General in July 2007. So, how could I be held responsible again? This is the circumstance.'
'What happened that there were two judgments from the court of appeal one from Abuja division and the other one from the Calabar division? One said, one of the parties was properly substituted; the other one said he was not properly substituted.
'The matter came to us. I said no, as Attorney - General, I have no power. But I rushed straight to the President of the Court of Appeal to inform him that there are two judgments both from the Court of Appeal. I told him all the parties had gone to Supreme Court. Let's wait for the outcome of what the Supreme Court would say of the two judgments that came from your court. Abuja division is saying one thing, Calabar division is saying another thing. The records are there. The president did not even disclose to the court that they are in the Supreme Court and the case is coming up on November 11, 2010.'
'Even when I was minister, they said it but I said no. Now that I have left the office as you said, I am making it clear to the people of Benue State that I don't betray friends. Gabriel (Suswam) and I started out before he became Governor. When I was made a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), things were really rough with me. Immediately I was announced a Senior Advocate, Gabriel drove all the way from Abuja to Gboko where I was. He was a member of the House of Representatives then. He met me and asked me what we were going to do. He told me he had already secured Rockview Hotel for me.
'This is the first time I am disclosing this. He went further to say he would order a robe for me apart from taking care of other things. Before then, Akume came in and said look, for the official robes. History has it that all the past senior advocates from the state government gave them money. All the petty things that associated with the ceremony were founded by Gabriel.
'I didn't solicit from him but he did it because of the joy he had that somebody within his generation was made a senior advocate. I am only two years older than him. Now, that friendship continued when he won election, I never knew I was going to be minister. The first thing was that he called me in Prof Mvendaga Jibo's house.
'Some people were grumbling that I was not with him, this and that but he said he knew what he was doing. He entered the car with me, we followed and the next thing, I told him, 'Look let us talk to this person and make sure that he dropped the case'. We went to speak with Saror and Saror dropped the case against him.
'How can somebody who has been with you to that level, to that extent. Somebody with whom you had established a very solid personal contact. You are close to each other, you discuss all your plans as young men together. When you were in office, he was always in your office. He comes into your house, he goes into your bedroom, I go into his bedroom. Then when I come back home, just because few people say you are better than him you now want to contest against him? It doesn't work like that.
'I am not saying that I don't have a right to contest for governorship but I am saying that if he is contesting, it's as good as me contesting. Therefore, let him contest. I, on my part, I am going to follow him from house to house. I still have enough time in life if God wants me to aspire for the office. Eight years is like nothing. Even the next four years, I would just be 52. People who are 70 are still aspiring to rule this country.
'To me, it is a matter of conscience some conscience that I had the other time is that same conscience that I had the other time is the same conscience that I have to follow. I don't try to do my things that way. Not because of any other reasons. There are many political parties. If I want to contest, it doesn't necessarily mean I must join PDP. I will leave PDP and join another party. Put yourself in my position, will you just come back home to contest because people are asking you to do it? It doesn't make sense at all.'