Nigeria?s Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) says it will prefer charges against Vice President Atiku Abubakar and several governors who were indicted for corruption and abuse of office, when they leave office on May 29th. The Bureau had earlier recommended Vice President Atiku for trial over alleged abuse of office in the management of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF). But the charges were dismissed because of the immunity the vice president and his co-accused enjoy under section 308 of the constitution.
From Lagos, Vice President Abubakar?s lead attorney Ricky Tarfa tells VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey that the CCB?s pronouncement has political undertones.
?The Vice President was charged before the Code of Conduct in contraventions of the law of the country, the constitution particularly, and in contravention of even the laws setting up the Code of Conduct itself. The charges were filed by the attorney general. He had no loc use under the law to prefer those charges against the vice president. That is the basis on which that charge was challenged before the federal High Court,? he noted.
Tarfa said he is not sure about the rationale behind the CCB?s pronouncement.
?First of all there is no pending trial or charges before the vice president at the Code of Conduct. And secondly, the appeal against the order of the Court of Appeal is still pending at the Supreme Court. So in practical terms it is perhaps not possible for them to proceed in the manner in which they are suggesting or selling to the members of the public,? Tarfa pointed out.
He said it might be difficult for the CCB to file charges against the vice president.
?The coast may not be clear for them by their own act, by the manner in which they have proceeded with their cases against the vice president, particularly relating to the trial at the Code of Conduct. It?s not possible. They are not in a position to say they want to file other charges. Their appeal is still pending at the Supreme Court,? he said.
Tarfa said the vice president?s defense team has yet to receive any new charges against Mr. Abubakar.
?We don?t even have the charges for us to see what we want to do or what we don?t want to do. We need to see what the charges would be. In all those ones are the interpretations and the perception which people had are more political rather than serious charges of misconduct because really, they were not things which, if you look at strictly speaking, they are not things which you say we can prefer those charges against the vice president,? Tarfa said.
He reiterated the reason behind CCB?s pronouncement as having political undertones.
?Perhaps the statement which is being bandied round might be for political reasons, just to show that there is something against the vice president. It?s neither here nor there. The Code of Conduct could continue to do what they would do. If you have violated the laws of the country, the law would take its course. But I don?t think it?s a cause for anxiety for the vice president or anybody who knows the basis on which such charges are being preferred to have a cause of worry. I personally don?t think so, and whatever it is, even if they prefer the charges, I?m satisfied. And it?s clear to us that the vice president would probably come out of it much clearer than probably finding anything against him,? he said.