By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The immediate past Chairman of the Nigerian Body of Benchers (BoB), Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, has described the alleged plot to install an interim national government in the country as a call for anarchy.
Olanipekun, who spoke at a public function the legal body organized to mark the end of his tenure as its Chairman, further adduced reasons why the alleged plot would fail.
According to him, there is no provision in the 1999 Constitution, as amended, under which an interim government could be accommodated.
The senior lawyer, who is a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), urged aggrieved politicians to “ceasefire”, insisting that the outcome of the said interim government would be calamitous.
He said: “It is unconstitutional. To me, it comes from the pit of hell. Calling or asking for Interim National Government, where do you situate it? How do you compartmentalize it? How do you accommodate it within a constitutional democracy?
“Let us face it. Whenever there is an election anywhere in the world, there is bound to be disagreement. But will you because of every disagreement call for the system to be disbanded?
“You can not throw away the baby with the bath water, it is never done.
“Two and a half or three years ago in America, we know what happened. Even before then, like between Nixon and J. F. Kennedy, we know what happened then.
“But Nixon said, look, let us stop there. He halted himself. He restrained himself, even though people were telling him to go to court.
“He refused and said he would not go to court because he respected that institution.
“This time around, people have gone to court. That is a civilized thing to do. The law is there. Let them exploit the opportunities provided by the constitution and the statutes.
“But for some people to sit down somewhere and call for an Interim National Government, I, as a lawyer, don’t know the jurisprudence that will accommodate it.
“It is just like those of us who are from the South West and Midwest, that is Edo and Delta, and also those of us from the North, where you have Obas and Emirs.
“Will you say because a traditional ruler has not behaved well and call for the title to be abolished? Is that how or the way it is done?
“Will one say because your child is not doing well in school and kill him? No of course! You will regulate him and bring teachers to improve him.
“You cannot call for an Interim Government where elections have been conducted”, Olanipekun, SAN, added.
Continuing, he said: “I am not saying that all is well. In every institution created by God for man, there will be minuses. You don’t have it hundred percent anywhere.
“I am not saying there is no room for improvement, but don’t let us call for anarchy.
“Let us not pray that anarchy be unleashed on the system. You know what Sociologists call a state of anomy. A state of lawlessness.
“No one is going to benefit from it. Let us remind ourselves, have we not had Interim National Government before?
“I recall that on 17th of November 1993, I was arguing a matter at Lagos State High Court on behalf of Ondo State and someone came and whispered to me that Abacha had taken over.
“Why did Abacha have to take over? It was because there was an Interim National Government that could not be accommodated within the constitution, despite that it was set up by the military government through a decree.
“That was the Shonekan administration. Let us not make the same mistake again. Once beaten, twice shy.
“Interim National Government, I, Wole Olanipekun, with the little knowledge of law and jurisprudence that God has endowed me with, I don’t know how we are going to accommodate it and I can be quoted.
“Who will be the President? Or better still, what will be the nomenclature? What will happen to Governors at the state level?
“Anarchy is not good and I remember when I was the Attorney General of Ondo State. Do you know what Abacha did? First of all, he said he would take over at the Federal Level.
“He wanted to leave the state governors, civilian governors. But some people said No! That was because they also wanted positions — military governor here and the military governor there.
“I want to plead as an elder statesman, for those calling for Interim National Government to cease fire.
“Let them introspect. Let them think of what is going to be the outcome.
“The outcome is going to be calamitous. It is going to be an ill wind that is not going to blow us any good. It is going to blow all of us into the Atlantic,” Olanipekun warned.
It will be recalled that the Department of State Service, DSS, said it confirmed a plot by some politicians to install an interim government and stop Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from being inaugurated as President on May 29.
“The planners, in their many meetings, have weighed various options, which include, among others, to sponsor endless violent mass protests in major cities to warrant a declaration of a state of emergency.
“Another is to obtain frivolous court injunctions to forestall the inauguration of new executive administrations and legislative houses at the Federal and State levels,” the security agency added.