ABUJA, Nigeria – The Initiative to Save Democracy, ISD, has insisted that activist lawyer, Femi Falana can’t blame the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo and other lawyers in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet over the saga involving operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, and Omoyele Sowore, convener of the RevolutionNow Movement.
ISD maintained that Falana’s statement against lawyers in Buhari’s cabinet was “mischievous.”
DSS operatives on Friday had chased out lawyers from the courtroom and attacked journalists after which they re-arrested Sowore.
Following the invasion of the courtroom, the trial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu adjourned the matter till February 11, 12 and 13 for definite hearing.
Reacting to the saga, Falana had asked the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, to sanction lawyers in Buhari’s cabinet over their silence on the matter.
However, ISD faulted Falana’s remark, stressing that the lawyers in the Buhari administration have not acted in any unprofessional capacity to warrant any disciplinary action.
In a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Peter Oladele, the group said: “Besides, regarding the Vice President in particular it is an unrealistic expectation to require him to respond officially on the misconduct of the DSS agents because the executive powers of the Federal Government are vested only in the person of the President not the Vice President or the lawyers in the Cabinet.
“Besides, the President who has the Executive powers in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as Amended, the only person who has responsibility on this matter is the Attorney-General of the Federation,” the group explained, adding “this facts are well known to Mr. Falana.”
ISD recalled that while Osinbajo was acting President, DSS invaded the National Assembly, he acted in defense of rule of law and democracy in the country by removing the head of the organization and condemning the invasion.
The group wondered “why does Mr. Falana now think the VP or the lawyers in the cabinet could not advise the President to act in a similar way, afterall it is the same Buhari Presidency?
“Mr Falana is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and he should know that Section 11 of the NBA’s Legal Practitioners Act has specific penalties for unprofessional conduct and there is no provision for disciplining lawyers for the actions of other people.
“So, how do you call for disciplinary actions against colleagues who have not acted in any unprofessional capacity or have not breached the rules of professional conduct,” the group quizzed.
The group advised Falana to rid himself of any emotional outbursts that could overshadow what is otherwise a noble work he was doing on the Sowore matter.
ISD stated that as a senior lawyer he should know who has what powers and where the buck stops in a Presidential system of government such as Nigeria is currently practising.
“As a group we have condemned the actions of the DSS and have called for the immediate release of Mr Sowore because the court has ordered his release. We also condemn the re-arrest of Mr Sowore by the DSS it only puts Nigeria in bad light. And we should not use this unfortunate incidents to dent the image of lawyers in the Buhari cabinet,” the statement added.