Posted by By Ise-Oluwa Ige on
FORMER world Court Judge, Prince Bola Ajibola (SAN), at the weekend, in Abuja, stoutly defended, his acceptance, ten years ago, of ministerial appointment under the government of Gen Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida as a serving President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
ABUJA—FORMER world Court Judge, Prince Bola Ajibola (SAN), at the weekend, in Abuja, stoutly defended, his acceptance, ten years ago, of ministerial appointment under the government of Gen Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida as a serving President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
He explained that he accepted the offer then mainly because he was advised by his colleagues in the NBA to go there and correct a lot of wrongs being done to Nigerians under successive military administrations.
The Hague judge also said at the weekend that there was nothing wrong with the incumbent Federation Attorney-General, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) taking up ministerial appointment under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government, having resigned his office as President of the Nigerian Bar Association.
Prince Ajibola said that Ojo’s acceptance of the ministerial offer was not in breach of the association’s (NBA) constitution.
He contended that rather than blaming the new attorney-general of breaching NBA’s constitution, he said the draftsmen of the association’s constitution should be blamed as the particular section which stopped bar leaders from accepting ministerial appointment specifically stopped "serving" bar leaders and not the one that had resigned their positions.
The former Hague judge spoke at a retreat, in Abuja, organised by the Federal Ministry of Justice for its directors, heads of units, parastatals and key officials.
Said Prince Ajibola: "on the acceptance of ministerial appointment by Chief Ojo, I have read with interest a lot of criticisms leveled against him. We need to have a better understanding and give him a chance to serve the nation. I will advise that we should let the sleeping dog lie. Let us give him opportunity to touch the lives of Nigerians.
"It is true that acceptance of ministerial appointment by a serving president is considered a misconduct, unfortunately, with due respect, they didn’t give that provision to a lawyer who could draft it properly.
"The said provision says: ‘‘no serving President or other National Officer shall canvass or solicit for appointment in government or if offered must decline, otherwise he\she shall be deemed guilty of professional misconduct and shall not attend or speak at any meeting of the association for such conduct.’’
"What they said in the provision is that serving president can't take up government appointment. At the time he (Chief Ojo) took up this appointment (Justice Minister), he was no longer a serving president.
"Although one could say that is the intendment, the truth is that the drafting was inelegant. "
"This young man, Chief Bayo Ojo is very clever. He first resigned before taking up the offer. At the time he was sworn in, he was no longer a serving president of NBA".
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