Buhari Threatens Legal action over certificate scandal, Says Petitioner is from PDP - EazyFeeds

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Monday 20 June 2016

Buhari Threatens Legal action over certificate scandal, Says Petitioner is from PDP

President Muhammadu Buhari has threatened to seek legal sanctions against a private lawyer, Mr. Nnamdi Nwokocha, for granting out-of-court press interviews about the court case concerning the president’s academic qualification.
Nwokocha had approached the court to compel Buhari to either produce his West African Examinations Council certificate or be declared ineligible to run for Nigeria’s presidency.
The presidency has however, condemned what it regards as Nwokocha’s attempts to prejudice public opinion against Buhari “by declaring the Pres­ident guilty on the pages of newspapers”.

 Reacting yesterday to Nwokocha’s press interviews, Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, said it was unfair for a lawyer who is a litigant in a court case to hijack the pow­er of a judge by declaring the President guilty of what he is accused of.
Stressing that “you cannot be a litigant and be a Judge at the same time”, Shehu noted that newspaper pages can­not be alternative courts “where a lawyer can declare anybody guilty of anything when the court has not formally given a definitive judgement on an is­sue before it”.
The presidential spokesman said any lawyer that sincere­ly believed in judicial process and the rights of other parties to a case would not engage in inappropriate and unprofes­sional practice of trial by media
He argued that this was the situation that played out when Nwokocha openly declared the President guilty when the court didn’t make that declaration.
”The two-pages interview splashed on pages 56-57 of ThisDay edition of Saturday June 11th breaches a lawyer’s ethical code and we hope that the court and the Bar Associ­ation will take notice of this”, Shehu said .
He added that if Nwoko­cha did not not stop this “un­fair and professionally inappro­priate abuse of free speech, the President’s competent team of lawyers will seek the instru­mentality of the law in dealing with his unethical actions”.
Shehu recalled that gag or­ders emerged in the United States on account of lawyers’ inappropriate conduct on try­ing and convicting people on the pages of newspapers or the court of public opinion.
He further noted that free speech was not synonymous with recklessness and wanton abuse of the rights other par­ties to a case in court.
“The litigant’s unabashed claim that he was a card-carry­ing member of the opposition PDP which lost power in the last election clearly indicates a scheme that seeks power by circumventing the democrat­ic process of elections”, Shehu concluded.

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