Monday, 20 June 2016

Presidency threatens lawsuit against Abuja-based lawyer for declaring Buhari guilty in press interview (certificate)

Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on media and publicity, Shehu Garba, has hinted that the presidency may be filing a lawsuit against Abuja based lawyer, Nnamdi Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe over what it described as the lawyer's prejudiced view of President Buhari in a recent interview where he spoke on President Buhari's alleged lack of school certificate and declared him guilty on the pages of newspapers.


Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe had dragged President Buhari before the court, arguing that he did not meet the educational requirement to contest for President of Nigeria. Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe alleged that President Buhari did not sit for the Cambridge West African School Certificate WASC) in 1961 as he claimed.

According to Vanguard, Garba Shehu, while reacting to Nwokocha’s recent press interviews, explained that “it is unfair for a lawyer who is a litigant to a case in court to go out of his way to hijack the power of a Judge by declaring the President guilty of what he is accused of. Newspaper pages are not alternative courts where a lawyer can declare anybody guilty of anything when the court has not formally given a definitive judgment on an issue before it. The two-pages interview splashed on pages 56-57 of ThisDay edition of Saturday June 11th breaches a lawyer’s ethical code and we hope that the court and the Bar Association will take notice of this.

Any lawyer that sincerely believes in judicial process and the rights of other parties to a case would not have engaged in the inappropriate and unprofessional practice of trial by media, especially a situation where Nwokocha openly declared the President guilty when the court didn’t make that declaration. Shehu noted that “gag orders emerged in the United States on account of lawyers’ inappropriate conduct on trying and convicting people on the pages of newspapers or the court of public opinion. He added that "free speech is not synonymous with recklessness and wanton abuse of the rights other parties to a case in court.” He also said that

“The litigant’s unabashed claim that he was a card-carrying member of the opposition PDP which lost power in the last election clearly indicates a scheme that seeks power by circumventing the democratic process of elections.” Malam Garba Shehu said “if Nwokocha has not stopped his unfair and professionally inappropriate abuse of free speech, the President’s competent team of lawyers will seek the instrumentality of the law in dealing with his unethical actions. You cannot be a litigant and be a Judge at the same time.”

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