Lawyers came down heavily on the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), on the certificate forgery allegation against the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun. Some senior lawyers said there was no legal justification for the comment credited to Sagay over Adeosun. Sagay while speaking at an event in Abuja was reported to have dismissed calls for the sacking of the minister over the allegation, saying she is very invaluable to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. However, in their reactions to Sagay’s comment, the lawyers described it as political, saying there was no legal justification for it.
While reacting to Sagay’s comments, a lawyer and rights’ activist, Kingdom Okere, said it was wrong of the law Professor to have said such. He said: “As a law student, I read Sagay’s Law of Contract admiring him for industry and his deep sense of legal sagacity. But to be frank since the Buhari administration appointed him special adviser on anti corruption, the hitherto respected professor has departed from from sense of legal reasoning.
“First he was quick to support the DSS invasion of home of serving Supreme Court justices, and had spoken in support of every corruption allegations against any pro-Buhari member of the executive. “Prof is indeed looking for retirement package which the Buhari administration had given him opportunity. He should no longer be taken seriously on issues of this nature.
The law of diminishing returns has set in. Another lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, in his reaction, said he was absolutely sure that Sagay knew what he was saying was incorrect. He said: “But he is making the argument to be politically- correct, anyway.” Another lawyer, Wahab Olatoye, equally condemned Sagay’s comments. He said: “I am surprised and disappointed that a highly revered professor of law can make such comment. To me, that statement is that of political and not law. This is because is law is law and cannot be changed for anything. “Sagay ‘s action can be defined as that of aiding and abetting a constitutional and such a criminal act Possessing NYSC certificate is not a government policy but a constitutional matter. The law is not a respecter of person. No matter how brilliant a person is, if the person breaks the law, the law should take its toll on the person.
“This government is said to be fighting corruption, but it is not seen to be doing so. It is very wrong for Sagay to have displayed his partisanship in the public.” For Kayode Ajulo, he said: “Prof. Sagay I strongly believe won’t utter such a word, but if he unfortunately did, then he deserves not to be in office he is occupying as what he just did with the above statement as a Professor of Law, urinating on our statutes and regulations. He, therefore, needs to be relieved of his post”. Speaking on the issue, Mr. Seyi Sowemimo ((SAN), said it would be difficult for Sagay to justify his comment legally. He said: “Certainly, I think it is not a position that he can justify legally.
This is because if there is proof that she has forged her certificate, the fact that she is occupying the position of a finance minister is not a defence to such an offence. But I think the whole thing is just political. “The way things are now going in the country, nothing is logical anymore. All it means is that for a man like Sagay who is heading the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corrup-tion (PACAC), this is not the kind of issue he is expected to talk about or dabble into. “But when he is saying it and he cannot even convince someone like me, then it does not fly. I think it should be discounted on the ground that what he is saying is more political than legal. A lot of strange things are happening now in the country.” A former Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Adekunle Ojo, said if the comments are indeed true, it will be unfortunate that they emanated from Prof. Sagay.
“Let me give Prof. Sagay the benefit of the doubt that he was quoted out of context. However, if it is true that he said that, it is unfortunate. It is least expected of him. This is because it would mean no matter how tainted someone is, such an individual can always remain indispensable under this regime. That’s the implication of what Professor Sagay is saying. “Beyond all these, my position on the entire issue is that the Federal Government without being prompted will do a self-examination of the woman and find out if all that has been said about her is true or not. “In the alternative, my expectation is that the minister would speak out her mind on the allegation so that Nigerians will know her position on the issue. In the absence of all of these, it is my sincere wish that she is allowed to relinquish that position willingly,” he said.