Dec 9, 2018

A Rejoinder on Prof. Ojukwu's "Whenever Usoro is arraigned, I will write him to step down



It has been more than 24 hours since an online publication quoted Prof Ernest Ojukwu as saying that he would write Mr Paul Usoro SAN to step down upon his arraignment in Court over the Charge of Fraud and Money Laundering.


Having not rebutted the said statement credited to him, one would be right to take it that Prof Ojukwu indeed made the Statement. For the records, Prof Ojukwu came distant third in the last NBA Election and he is not contesting the outcome of the said Election in any Court in Nigeria. He is therefore deemed to have accepted the outcome of the said election. Prof Ojukwu's comment that he was 'rigged out of the NBA Election' underscores his ill-motive and desperation which manifest in the pull-him-down campaign he has mounted against Mr. Usoro since the latter assumed office as the NBA President. How can you assert that you were rigged out in an election which outcome you accepted and did not contest in a Court of Law. How much more unprofessorial can a professor of law be with such a careless statement?

Whichever way one views Prof Ojukwu's statement, it is neither supported by law nor logic and his recourse to the doctrine of necessity only demonstrates his helplessness and frustration. Prof Ojukwu reminds me of Dr Odinkalu and it is not a surprise that both of them have been working together giving credence to the saying that birds of the same feather flock together. For the discerning minds, Ojukwu's call for Mr. Usoro's step aside or resignation reveals the deep hypocrisy that pervades our society today where lawyers thwart the settled principle of law to suit their selfish needs.

First, Ojukwu from his statement refused to even acknowledge the Constitutional presumption of innocence provided under *_Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution_* which enures in Mr Usoro's favour. Ojukwu knows of this Constitutional provision and must have tutored his teaming students on the sanctity of the presumption of innocence. He must have argued before various Judges on the need to uphold this hallowed principle in defence of his Clients. He didn't not even make any feeble attempt to distinguish its applicability in Mr. Usoro's case before finding shelter in his contrived doctrine of necessity.

Prof Ojukwu acknowledged that at the moment, Mr. Usoro has neither been served with any charge nor arraigned before any Court. It follows that, he, Ojukwu has not even seen a copy of the Charge in question let alone the proof of evidence, other than on social media. On what basis did he premise his call that once Mr. Usoro is arraigned, he will call or write him to step down. Is it not possible that the Charge is bereft of any merit which explains why Prof Ojukwu should have been circumspect and avoid making baseless statement as this, at least until he sees the proof of evidence?

Clearly, there is no doubt that Ojukwu is one of those orchestrating the malicious charge against Mr Usoro in a bid to pull him down.

People don't just resign from office becuase they are accused of a crime. If it were not so, all that it would take to have a Governor or President resign from office is to cook up some charges against him and then ask him to resign. Mr Usoro's only crime is that he worked for Akwa Ibom State and Governor Udom Emmanuel and received his professional fees. It is on this basis that Prof Ojukwu is calling on him to take a leave avoiding to use the exact word "resign" which according to Ojukwu is not necessary under the circumstances.

Just recently, Senate President Bukola Saraki had charges filed against him for offences allegedly committed before he became Senate President. A lot of people including Senior lawyers rallied around Saraki on the ground that the Charge was politically motivated. Some of these same lawyers who insisted that Saraki must not resign as the Senate President are among the ones now asking Mr. Usoro to resign or go on a sabbatical leave. This is just one out of many similar instances. If this is not a hypocrisy of the highest order, what then is? In the same Saraki's case, even his Party wanted him to resign by all means. The same sore losers in the last NBA Elections are the ones calling on Mr. Usoro to resign his position just because he collected his professional fees.

The call for Mr. Usoro to resign is even laughable when one considers the peculiar circumstances of the Charge. As acknowledged by Ojukwu, the Offences with which Mr. Usoro is charged are not directly connected with the office of President of NBA. This again further justifies the frivolity of the call for Mr. Usoro to resign.

Second, and as the learned Prof acknowledged, the NBA constitution does not provide that an officer of the NBA would have to step aside when a charge is brought against him.

How then would anyone, and of all people, the learned prof Ojukwu, call for Mr. Usoro's stepping aside or resignation. What is the constitutional basis? What is this hastily contrived doctrine of necessity our dear Prof speaks of? Can't we for once look before we leap?

I would have expected Prof Ojukwu to use himself as an example to tell us what he would have done if he were in Mr. Usoro's shoes so we can hold him by his words and not to wake up to call out for Mr. Usoro to step aside. He ingeniously dodged this line of reasoning that he should have towed. It is quite unfortunate that the professor would singlehandedly, without even sampling the opinions of principal members of the Association, invoke the 'doctrine of necessity'. It is nothing but a jaundiced view of an embittered and disgruntled loser.

There were a lot of stories making the rounds back then about the character issues that bedevilled the learned Prof while he was a lecturer at the Nigerian Law School. There were allusions to the reasons for the learned Prof's exit from the Nigerian Law School connected to his inability to cling to the position of the Director General of the NLS, after he had attained the position of a DDG. These issues, if true are those that should preoccupy the mind of the Prof, and not to come out to call for the resignation of the NBA President. Would Prof be happy to be assessed and judged on the basis of all the negative stories about him?

Prof must put an end to this unhealthy and infantile campaign of calumny that has characterized most of his utterances from when Mr. Usoro first declared his intention to run, to this present day. It is childish, unprofessional and demeaning of someone of his status.

The truth is that any lawyer can be prosecuted and charged to court in the manner that Mr. Usoro has been charged, even when as in Mr. Usoro's instance, it is clear that the lawyer is innocent and that the charges are frivolous and bound to fail.

If we continue to subscribe to this shout of resign and clear your name campaign, we would be creating a monster that would consume sooner than later, its proponents. It is better to err on the side of caution.

 Ogaga Emoghwanre
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