Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa (SAN) has denied reports making round on social media platforms with claim that he was barred by the court from holding public and political office in the country.
Aondoakaa is a governorship aspirant in Benue State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said in a statement on Tuesday that he had approached a High Court to revisit the judgement that barred him from occupying public office , adding that the report is a blatant falsehood.
The statement signed by Dam Obed,Director of Media and Publicity, Chief Michael Aondoakaa Campaign Organization reads: “We read with amusement yet another nebulous and fictitious publication on Premium Times making round on social media platforms with claim that the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), who is a governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has approached a High Court to revisit the judgement that barred him from occupying public office. This is a blatant falsehood.
“We initially wanted to ignore the said publication as the musings of ill-informed and confused minds on account of the fact that the strength of the claim is grounded in logical fallacies, half-truths, and outright lies, but we owe our teeming supporters this response to arm them with facts for their personal engagement with mischief makers who are threatened by the consistent, formidable and stable glide of the Aondoakaa’s Governorship drive.
“We are not blind to the fact that this is a smear campaign funded by opponents who are gasping for air and losing sleep by the day over Chief Aondoakaa’s appealing, realistic, and unrivaled governorship blueprint’s frightening and growing prospects.
“We do not want to put too much emphasis on this issue to make it sound apologetic in any way, but we do want to educate the sponsors of the false claim, those who have accepted the poor dish, and members of the public who might find our response didactic.
“We responded in a similar manner to the publication that said Chief Aondoakaa was disqualified from holding public office for life due to misconduct when he held sway as Minister of Justice, stating that there is no such rule in Nigeria that prohibits someone from holding public office for life due to misconduct. We mentioned that even those who are convicted can hold public office after 10 years, implying that our principal would have been eligible after 12 years if convicted.
“We will not elaborate on our last rebuttal to the first publication against the aspirant because, as of the 10th of December, 2021, it was stated unequivocally on page 21-23 of the judgment of the Presiding Justice Hon Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili that the issue of the respondent (Aondoakaa) holding public office in the 2010 judgment does not arise.
“We know the sponsors are Aondoakaa’s opponents in the governorship contest and because they are anxious with less chances, they do not refer to page 21-23 of the Presiding Justice judgment.
“We want to make it clear that the frontline Governorship aspirant, Chief Michael Aondoakaa, SAN, has not approached any law court to revisit the case that has been faulted on numerous grounds. We would not say anything because the case is in court against the defendant who erroneously and fraud ulently thought Aondoakaa was Bayo Ojo, SAN, his predecessor in the office of Attorney General of the Federation. Chief Bayo Ojo made the payment to Utam Brama Fire Disaster Victims in 2006 and Aondoakaa became Attorney General of the Federation in 2007.Any judgment or decree obtained by fraud ,is a tortuous wrong and consequently unenforceable if found so by a fresh action challenging the fraudulent Misrepresentation. That is a well established principle of law which the Supreme Court of Nigeria has laid down over the years and has recently invoke in 2022 in the case of GT Bank vs Innoson and nullified its own judgment which was earlier obtained by fraudulent misrepresentation .The case filed at the federal high court by Aondoakaa relate only to the fraudulent claim that he made payment in the sum of 450million naira in 2006 to Utan Brama Fire Disaster Victims as Attorney General of the Federation and had personal interest in the said payment .But Aondoakaa was appointed Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in July 2007
“However, we would want to state, for the purposes of knowledge and in the most basic form, that political appointees or holders of political office are not public servants under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and elsewhere.
By virtue of section 318 of the Constitution, political appointees or political office holders are not included in the list of persons employed in the public service. There is no doubt, the writer would not have spent much energy on the civil case of 2010 which talks about holder of public office if his attention had been drawn to the cases of DADA v. ADEYEYE (2005) 6 NWLR (Pt. 920) 1 at 19 ASOGWA v. CHUKWU (2003) 4 NWLR (Pt. 811) 540 OJONYE V. ONU & ORS (2018) LPELR-44223) where the appellate Courts have held that political appointees or political office holders are not public officer holders or public servant as provided for under the Constitution.
The term “public service of the federation” is defined in Section 318(1) of the 1999 constitution as “federal service in any capacity in relation to the administration of the federation,” and includes the following:
a. Clerk of other staff of the national assembly or of each house of the national assembly;
b. Member of staff of the supreme court, the court of appeal, the federal high court, the high court of the federal capital territory, Abuja, the Sharia Court of Appeal of the federal capital territory, Abuja, the customary court of appeal of the federal capital territory, Abuja or other courts established for the federation by this constitution and by an act of the national assembly;
c. Member of staff of any commission or authority established for the federation by this constitution or by an act of the national assembly;
Staff of any area council;
d. Staff of any statutory corporation established by an act of the national assembly;
Staff of any educational institution established or financed principally by the government of the federation;
e. Staff of any company or enterprise in which the government of the federation or its agency owns controlling shares or interest; and
f. Members or officers of the armed forces of the federation or the Nigeria Police Force or other government security agencies established by law.
Under the same law, there is a similar provision for state public service. In view of this, it may be determined that the constitution is unambiguous on who falls under the category of federation or state public service. Political appointees or political office holders are excluded.
We wish to urge Chief Michael Aondoakaa, SAN’s friends, family members, political allies, and throngs of followers to dismiss the claim in its entirety without hesitation.
The fact that our principal has taken consultations to run for governor of Benue state to an unprecedented level, as well as the deluge of endorsements, particularly the most recent from stakeholders and elder statesmen from the state’s three major geopolitical blocs in the party, must have unsettled the sponsors.
We are trying to double the intensity of consultations we conduct in a positive manner throughout the state. We will keep raising the bar and aiming for the moon and star