• RE: From Osinbajo to Malami: The curse of Nigeria’s Attorneys-General
A public affairs analyst and social commentator, FEJIRO JOHNSON, reflects on the exemplary conducts of Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, as a public servant, cum his historical antecedents during his days as the Attorney-General of Lagos State, reacting to a recent write-up where the VP had been accused of infraction.
I can imagine Dr. Damages a.k.a Rudolf Okonkwo sitting somewhere, maybe under a palm tree, like his namesake from Things Fall Apart, thinking of what next to write that would feature the name of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. Or maybe Okonkwo may have just watched another movie remake of the former US President Nixon and the infamous Watergate scandal.
It is clear to the discerning reader that the author in his piece published by the Peoples Gazette on June 8, 2021, titled: From Osinbajo to Malami: The curse of Nigeria’s attorneys-general, had nothing substantial to write that captures his headline with Osinbajo. So, he decided to bore readers with almost half length of his write-up with tales of Watergate and the former US President, Richard Nixon.
Also, there is no doubting that while he included the name of the Attorney General of the Federation, it was Prof. Osinbajo that Dr. Damages really sought to damage, irrespective of what the facts indicate.
How Okonkwo brought Vice President Osinbajo’s name into his writeup is one of the many pen abracadabras the author and his ilks conjures by using fake news and alternate truths – read fake news again – to shape a false narrative on social media and on online news blogs like the Peoples Gazette.
Expectedly, as his co-fake news merchants have tried in the past, the first mention Okonkwo made of Osinbajo was related to the Alpha beta issue. A story which being baseless, was floated years ago but couldn’t fly, is now the choice ammunition to do the damage! No wonder Dr. Damages is not gaining any traction!
A quick reminder to Okonkwo: Even if Osinbajo was the Attorney-General of Lagos State when Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was the State Governor at the time, it does not in any way link the VP to the issue. Again, Osinbajo was never involved in any event that led to Alpha Beta Consulting LLP getting approved for the State’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). His job as Lagos Attorney-General was to uphold the law and Osinbajo did that excellently. For emphasis, the VP had no link with Alpha Beta and its reported IGR collection percentage to the Lagos State government at the time.
Even the company in question had since debunked any allegation of wrongdoing as untrue. So, Okonkwo’s insinuation remains what it is, a figment of his imagination and a pigment of his fake news colouration. But we know those behind these misadventures of Dr. Damages.
Despite the work of fake news merchants to rewrite history by churning out snippets of falsehood in their write-ups, the work Prof Yemi Osinbajo did as Attorney-General of Lagos State remains impeccable and exemplary.
When he served as Attorney General of Lagos state, Prof. Osinbajo was credited with undertaking far-reaching significant judicial reform in Lagos State, addressing critical areas as judges’ recruitment, remuneration, training and discipline. In addition, Osinbajo as Attorney General, took bold steps to address the problem of slow justice delivery at the courts, especially for poor people. As a result, he established appropriate institutions in the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) and the Citizens Mediation Centre (CMC) to give free legal advice and aid to the poor.
These are just one of the many examples of the significant impact of Osinbajo’s tenure as Lagos State Attorney General. Owing to his achievements in Lagos State, the Emir of Lafia, retired Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad, who is a former Supreme Court justice, was quoted to have credited Osinbajo for the revolution going on in the judiciary sector in Nigeria.
According to the Emir, the legal profession appreciated the fact that Osinbajo was a pacesetter, adding that it was during Osinbajo’s tenure as Attorney-General of Lagos State that far-reaching reforms were introduced to Lagos State.
In his words, “We remember your revolution as the Attorney General of Lagos State, which led to the first major review of the rules of court we had in Nigeria. The Federal Capital Territory borrowed from Lagos at that time to review its judicial system. It was during your time that we witnessed innovations in the delivery of the justice. You indeed made the system so easy. We witnessed during that time the existence of the multi-court house. Many states borrowed from Lagos and this has become norms in many states.”
As Acting President, Osinbajo terminated the appointment of Mallam Lawal Daura as Director-General of the Department of State Security (DSS) over operatives unauthorized and unconstitutional invasion of the National Assembly in 2018.
Osinbajo’s interventions has also helped to strengthen Nigeria’s rule of law. Recall that following the #EndSARS protests nationwide in October 2020, the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo directed the immediate establishment of State-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry nationwide to receive and investigate complaints of Police brutality or related extrajudicial killings with a view to delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved SARS and other police units. Since then, the judicial panels have made far reaching resolutions and recommendations.
Osinbajo remains a pacesetter and is an unrepentant advocate for the rule of law, truth, justice and fairness. He continues to uphold high values throughout his decades in public service and his current position as Vice President.
With more men and patriots like Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in government, Nigeria will surely get to the promised land. On the other hand, men like Dr. Damages and those behind his misadventures would do better in their criticisms if at least they can have some respect for the truth.
• Johnson, a public affairs analyst and social commentator, writes from Abuja.