A former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), has revealed that a close ally of a former governor of Lagos State and National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, engineered his trial before the Code of the Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Adoke, who stated this in an interview with an online newspaper, Premium Times, said: “Bola Tinubu’s trial took place, it was his case with Code of Conduct Tribunal. It was a very unfortunate thing. But what most people don’t know is that a lot of people, who claimed to be close to Bola Tinubu, a particular human rights lawyer, was the one that engineered that trial.”
When pressed further to know who the lawyer was, he said: “You will read it in my book (laughter). It is there in my book, a particular human rights lawyer was the one going around the political authorities at that time saying: ‘Is this how you people are going to allow Tinubu? He has stolen Lagos blind, is this how you are going allow him to take over Nigeria, you people should move against him.’
“At the end of the day, the Code of Conduct Bureau people on the instigation of this lawyer, and I am happy that Mike Oghiadomhe is alive, I am happy persons like Ita Ekpenyong is alive and I wish that the late Azazi is alive because they would have been able to corroborate this story. How Bola Tinubu’s trial came about was unnecessary.
“Again, the same lawyer was one of those who went to tell Tinubu that “ohh… it is Adoke that is against you.’ That was why at that time Bola Tinubu, I think in 2012 or thereabout, came out to say that ‘the Attorney General is against me’ until he spoke to me through Lai Mohammed, who incidentally, was a great friend of mine before he became a minister and who has 24/7 access to me when I was minister.
Adoke, however, denied that the institution of the case against Tinubu did not emanate from him.
His words: “Let me tell you something; what was happening was that I told you in government there are many mansions, there are many interest groups, and there is so much sense of blackmail. I was fighting on so many fronts. Some of these anti corruption agencies will go and say ‘we are trying to fight corruption, it is the Attorney General that is not allowing us’ and you know how they use the issue of corruption as a base.
“It is so easy. So, when they continue that; I had advised that to me it was unnecessary, but since they didn’t listen, the CCB people came, we said ‘well, we don’t believe in this prosecution’ but they said they have a private lawyer who will prosecute for them under fiat; we gave them the fiat.”
Asked whether it was the allegation against him that stopped him from coming to Nigeria, Adoke said it was not the allegations that dissuaded him.
His words: “It is the fact that I needed to look at the security situation, the fact that I have some intelligence. It is also the fact that I would not put myself before a moving train. Because of the fact that I needed to be heard because the modus operandi of those investigating was working to an answer, not investigative. I am ready to submit myself to prosecution. I am not ready to submit myself to persecution.
“I was not running away. I am not refusing to come. It is very important because I like to be very clear about that. I also had some health challenges, very critical health challenges, and I needed to address them as well. I have to be healthy and alive to be able to face a trial.”
Stating the role he played in pleading with former President Goodluck Jonathan to accept defeat in the 2015 elections, Adoke said: “The fact is that some tried to claim more credit than the others. I would say it was a collective effort. And, at the end of the day, we have to give credit to President Jonathan who decided not to go with the hawks and decided to go with those of us that were the doves.
“Anybody can claim credit but what was most important was that as at that time, those of us who took the decision that the president should call Buhari to concede defeat to him so as to douse tensions took into consideration the overall interest of the country. I would tell you this; people who talk just talk because they want to claim the credit. Claiming credit is cheap, but they don’t know what goes into the working of any situation that arises.
“I think on the 31st of March, if I am not mistaken, on that day in the morning, the PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, had come to see me in the office. He treats me like his younger brother and he is someone that has been very nice to me, and I have a very excellent relationship with him, and he has been very helpful to me in exile. When he came to see me, he said ‘my brother, look, this is the situation on the ground. I am looking at the likely consequences of the president not conceding defeat or not doing this.
“In the interest of the nation, if by 5.pm this evening the president does not concede defeat, I as the National Chairman of the PDP will concede defeat on behalf of the party.’
As the Attorney General, a member of the national security council and as a frontline member or if you permit me to say, part of the kitchen cabinet of Mr. President, I knew the implications for the country and implications for the party. It will also further divide the gulf that existed in the country at that time. Don’t forget that Adamu Muazu was already being viewed with a lot of suspicions, that he was not committed to Jonathan’s second term election.
“His coming out, irrespective of the motive, which could have been a very good motive from what he explained to me would further confirm what those campaigning against him were saying.
“It would have escalated the Christian/Muslim dichotomy, the North/South dichotomy, the majority/minority dichotomy, and so many other dichotomies that were underpinnings at that time. So, what do I do? I knew the president was in an anguished position. I needed not to compound his problem, but to look at how to solve his problems.
“So, I went straight to the National Security Adviser and informed him that we had a situation at hand. This is what we are faced with, how do we approach the president? How do we get the president to do the right thing because the figures we were waiting for, even if it goes in favour of the president is not enough to alter the result in favour of the president? So, that was what we did.