Snippets of what transpired after the defeat of President Goodluck
Jonathan in the March 28, 2015 presidential election are now coming to the
open with Mohammed Bello Adoke, then-attorney-general of the federation,
refusing to disqualify candidate Muhammadu Buhari for certificate forgery.
In his upcoming book, ‘On a Platter of Gold: How Jonathan Won and Lost
Nigeria’, Bolaji Abdullahi — who served as minister under Jonathan from
2011-2014 — alleged that Olusegun Mimiko, then-governor of Ondo state,
wanted Buhari, the APC candidate, prosecuted for “certificate forgery” and
disqualified from contesting in the election.
But Adoke, who was considered one of the most powerful ministers under
Jonathan, argued against it, maintaining that there was no legal basis to
The APC candidate went on to win the historic election which saw the
defeat of an incumbent president for the first time in Nigeria, but
Patience Jonathan gave a piece of her mind to Adoke two days after the
In an advance copy of the book seen by TheCable, Abdullahi described
Jonathan as a man who had “a distinct aversion for taking any action that
could be regarded as unlawful or illegal”.
This, he said, made the attorney-general central to most of the decisions
the former president had to make.
Abdullahi wrote: “Two days after the election, Adoke had gone to see the
president in respect of the appointment of a new chief judge for the FCT.
While waiting in the outer room, the First Lady walked in. He rose to
greet her. But she took one long look at him and hissed: ‘Useless man. You
betrayed my husband. Now that he has lost the election, you are happy. It
was the same Attorney General that Bayo Ojo used to disqualify Atiku for
Obasanjo (in 2007). It was the same office that (Mike) Aondoakaa used to
make dead man (Umaru Musa Yar’Adua) to rule Nigeria. But when it comes to
my husband, you will be shouting, constitution, constitution.’”
Abdullahi said Mimiko was at the forefront of the agitation to have Adoke
issue a fiat that would have given the power to a private citizen to
prosecute Buhari for certificate forgery which could have led to his
disqualification from the election, “or at the very least, disrupt the
Buhari had said his secondary school certificate was with the military
authorities, but after they denied having it, he got a replacement from
his alma mater, Government College, Katsina.
Adoke stood his ground as pressure grew for him to kick-start the process
of disqualifying Buhari — a situation that made Jonathan’s supporters,
including his wife, blame the attorney-general for the loss.
“There were a number of other issues that led many in the president’s
immediate political circle to conclude that Adoke was the reason that
President Jonathan failed to act with the required toughness on some
issues,” Abdullahi wrote.
“When in May 2013 the president declared a state of emergency in Borno,
Adamawa and Yobe, some of the president’s men, led by Ijaw leader Edwin
Clark, had asked him to sack the governors of those states as part of the
emergency measures. Adoke, on the other hand, counselled the president
against sacking the governors, insisting that such action had no
constitutional backing. Clark fired back, asking the president to sack
“Prominent lawyers and civil society groups promptly weighed in on the
side of the minister, and commended him for being a ‘constitutional
purist’. They noted that he could easily have allowed the president to act
differently, if he were so minded, relying on the precedent set by
President Obasanjo in the case of Plateau State and Governor Joshua Dariye
in 2004 – a matter concerning which the Supreme Court had declined to make
a definite ruling.”
Abdullahi said a similar situation arose after five governors left the PDP
to join APC in November 2013.
“Some PDP governors had gone to the president and asked that their
decamped (defected) colleagues be removed and be replaced by their
deputies. Their argument was that those governors did not contest the
elections by themselves but on behalf of the party. They pointed out that
this had been determined in the case of Amaechi vs. INEC (in 2007), in
which the Supreme Court ruled that it is the party that contests election
and not an individual,” he wrote.
“The mandates held by those governors were therefore held in trust for the
PDP and could not be transferred to another party. If a governor left the
party, as the five governors had done, they ought to leave their mandate
behind. Where their deputies did not follow them to APC, those deputies
should be sworn in as governors without delay. Whereas, where the deputy
governors had also decamped, a sole administrator should be appointed.
Failure to take these steps would amount to robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“The president summoned the Attorney General and asked for his opinion. In
line with his established character, Adoke told the president that the
position being canvassed by the governors could not withstand the test of
the law. The constitution did not grant the president such powers and had
spelt out clearly how a governor could be removed from office. If Jonathan
were to act as the governors were canvassing for, it would amount to an
impeachable offence. And that was the end of the matter.”
The book will go on sale nationwide from November 30, 2017 after the launch.
Abdullahi was fired as minister of sport in March 2014 by Jonathan
allegedly on account of his “godfather”, Bukola Saraki, who had joined
other party rebels in defecting to the APC.
He is currently the national publicity secretary of the APC.