Is Aondoakaa above the law?

The attorney General of Nigeria and Minister of Justice; Chief Michael Aondoakaa is under fire for flouting an order made by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in a multi million Dollar Oil Prospectingicense suit. – PM News

Justice Abdullahi Mustapha had on the 12th of March 2009 granted an order of interim injunction restraining the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Department of Petroleum Resources; DPR, from revoking OPL 323 which was awarded to the Korean National Oil Corporation; KNOC sometime in August 2005.

The Attorney General was represented at the time the order was granted by one D. Bature who is in the Attorney General’s chambers. Yet, the Attorney General went ahead to write to the Acting Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources to revoke the license with total disregard to the order of the court.

The manner of the revocation instruction given by the AGF to the DPR left much to be desired for one occupying the exalted office as the Chief Legal Officer of the country. This much was revealed by the counsel to the Korean outfit; Mr. Robert Clarke; a senior advocate of Nigeria, who informed the court that Chief Tony Annenih, the former “Mr. Fix It” of the ruling political party; the Peoples Democratic Party and presently the Chairman of the Board of Nigerian Ports Authority, who is the sponsor of Owel Petroleum Services Nigeria Limited, one of the local content vehicles to the OPL 323 was behind the revocation of the license.

Clarke told the court that Chief Annenih had written the Nigerian Attorney General on the 5th of March this year requesting that the Oil Prospecting License awarded to the Korean Company be revoked. He further stated that they got wind of this strange request and approached the court to enforce their legal rights. But the Attorney General was not dissuaded by the order granted by the court as he went ahead to bypass all legal rules and write directly to the Acting Director of the Directorate of Petroleum Resources; DPR, directing that the OPL be revoked and the 310 million Dollars signature bonus paid by the Korean company be refunded to the company. The Nigerian Attorney General’s letter was dated 19th March 2009 , seven clear days after the court granted the interim order.

According to Clarke, “I have never seen this kind of a thing in my entire life. Even in the worst military regimes in Nigeria, no Attorney General in this country had bypassed legal rules to write to a Government Department in such a manner to portray his directives as those of the President. Who is Annenih, a mere politician to breathe down the neck of a whole Attorney General and compel him to write such a letter?

Attempts by Mrs. A.O. Mbamali, the Director of Civil Litigation in the Federal Ministry of Justice to bail out her boss fell on deaf ears as the Chief Judge, Justice Abdullahi Mustapha will hear none of her excuses. The judge insisted that Aondoakaa must come in person before him to explain why he wrote the letter that caused the revocation of the OPL despite having knowledge of the court’s order as he was represented in court when the order was granted.

The judge adjourned to 12th of May 2009 for the adoption of written address on the substantive matter. Other companies who got some percentages as local content vehicles who sought to join the Korean National Oil Corporation were equally joined as there was no objection from the parties in the suit.