The two exchanged words over the handling of the murder of the Edo Governor’s aide.
The National Council of State meeting which held at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday witnessed a hot argument between an enraged governor and a minister.
The Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomole; and the Attorney General of the Federation, Bello Adoke engaged in an argument over the handling of the murder of Mr. Oshiomole’s former’s aide, Olaitan Oyerinde.
The drama, which occurred at the Council Chambers hall of the Presidential Villa, saw the duo on the verge of a fight until the Chief of Staff, Mike Oghiadome; Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan; and other governors stepped in to save the day.
The altercation started when, during pre-meeting interactions, Mr. Adoke left his seat and moved over to Mr. Oshiomole. A hot exchange of words over the handling of Oyerinde’s death subsequently ensued.
The Council of State meeting, which was attended by former Heads of State, Yakubu Gowon, Ernest Shonekan and Shehu Shagari; Senate President, David Mark; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; governors; ministers; and senior government officials was chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting on the reason for his outburst, Mr. Oshiomole said Mr. Adoke had trivialized his office as governor, adding that the matter was wrongly referred to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, instead of the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.
“I don’t think it is an issue I want to talk about. He (Mr. Adoke) was saying that my Attorney General should have known what to do, that he has nothing to do with the matter. I simply asked him who referred the matter to him. Was it my Attorney General? The matter was referred to him by the Deputy Inspector General of Police and I asked him who should know better?
“If the Deputy Inspector General of Police referred a matter that he ought to have referred to the State to the Federal Attorney General, who is the one dragging him (Mr. Adoke) into the matter? Who is the one politicizing the matter? Should we assume that the DIG did not know that an offense of murder is a state offense? And if he knows it’s a state offense why did he refer it to the Federal Attorney General? So, if there is any complaints he should complain to the DIG who referred the case to him. The rest you witnessed,” the governor said.
Mr. Oshiomhole continued, “The point is that some of these guys- I am a governor, I’m elected; he has to respect my office even if he doesn’t respect my person. In any event, we are dealing with factual issues. If a case was wrongfully referred to the federal attorney general by the Nigeria Police, who is to blame?”
Mr. Oshiomole also said the state government had earlier complained that the matter ought to have been referred to the Edo State Director of Public Prosecutions and not federal because it is a state offense committed in Edo State.
“It’s like the case of a he-goat. When a family is happy they sacrifice the he-goat to celebrate. When the child is sick the native doctor says, sacrifice a he-goat so that the child will be well. So, head or tail, the he-goat is in trouble.
“Here I am, my primary Secretary is killed, nobody seems to bother. I’m doing my best to raise the issue because that is the least I owe to someone who gave his life. Yet for someone else who does not think life is important, it’s a matter to trivialise and joke about. When it comes to life and death, I don’t joke.
“The essence of governance is to protect life and property. That is fundamental. Even in poverty, people need to feel safe and secure. Nobody has a right under our constitution to take the life of another except if it has been confirmed by a court of competent jurisdiction.
“I was surprised that for the Attorney General it is something he can afford to joke with, telling me that my Attorney General didn’t know what to do,” the governor said.
The Governor advised that office holders should think of how the decisions they make will affect the country as after now, they will all be referred to as “ex”.
However, the Attorney General, in his reaction, denied trivializing the governor’s office.
“I will not disregard his office. He is my personal friend. I have the highest respect for him. I did not trivialise his office and I have no reason to trivialise his office. He is at liberty as a governor in this country to say whatever he wants to say but I will accord his office the highest respect and I will not join issues with him,” he said.
Also speaking on the ongoing plans for the formation of the All Progressive Congress, the Edo State Governor stated that it is the right of political parties to merge. He warned that should the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) refuse to register the party, it would leave itself open to accusation.
“In a genuine democracy, it is in our interest that those in and out of power create a viable alternative platform for people to make an informed choice. No party is too good to rule forever nor is any party too bad to be out of power forever. We have seen what is happening around the African continent. Nigeria must live by example in many respects. It is not about me; it is not about you. Party is not indigeneship; it is a platform of ideas. It is about Nigeria,” Mr. Oshiomole said.