The meeting of the National Council of State was almost marred on Tuesday as Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, and attorney general and minister of justice, Mohammed Adoke, engaged each other in a hot argument over the handling of the death of Oshiomhole’s aide, Olaitan Oyerinde.
The meeting, which was presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, was attended by Senate President David Mark; speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; former head of state, Yakubu Gowon; former President Shehu Shagari and Ernest Shonekan.
At a pre-meeting interaction, Adoke left his seat and moved to meet Oshiomhole and the hot exchange of words over the handling of Oyerinde’s murder case ensued.
Speaking with State House correspondents after the National Council of State meeting, Oshiomhole, who initially refused to speak on the issue, however, berated the attorney general and minister of justice over his reactions to the issue.
The altercation was degenerating into exchange of fisticuffs but for the quick intervention of Delta State governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan; the chief of staff to the president, Mike Oghiadhome and the president’s speech writer, Matts Aikhionbare.
Oshiomhole disclosed later that the matter was wrongly referred to the office of the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice by the deputy inspector general of police (DIG) instead of the state’s attorney general and commissioner for justice.
He said, “I don’t think it is an issue I want to talk about. The issue is that he was saying my attorney general should have known what to do, that he has nothing to do with the matter and I simply asked him who referred the matter to him. Was it my attorney general? The matter was referred to him by the deputy inspector general of police and I asked him who should know better? If the deputy inspector general of police (DIG) referred a matter to the minister of justice that he ought to have referred to the state, who is the one dragging him into the matter, who is the one politicising the matter.
“Should we assume that the DIG did not know that that offence of murder is a state offence? And if he knows it’s a state offence why did he refer it to the federal attorney general? He should complain to the DIG who referred the case to him. The rest you witnessed.
“I am a governor, I’m elected, he has to respect my office even if he doesn’t respect my person. In any event we are dealing with factual issues, if a case was wrongfully referred to the federal attorney general by the Nigerian police who is to blame?”
Oshiomhole disclosed that the state government had earlier complained that this matter ought to have been referred to the Edo State DPP not federal, because it is a state offence committed in Edo State.
“It is like the case of a he goat, when the family is happy they sacrifice the he goat to celebrate, when the child is sick the native doctor says sacrifice the he goat so that the child will be well, so head or tail the he goat is in trouble.
“Here I am and my principal secretary is killed, nobody seems to bother, I’m doing my best to raise the issue because that is the least I owe to someone who gave his life, for him it is a matter to trivalise and joke about. When it comes to death, I don’t joke, you don’t joke with life and death”.
TONY AILEMEN, Abuja