By Mutalubi Ojo Adebayo Esq.
Comrade, when you people are in the dark of how things are done, the best and proper thing to do is to ask for direction or guidance on how such things are being done instead of embarking on speculations or conjectures which would ultimately cast doubt on one’s competence as a professional.
I must confess and admit that I don’t know how the exercise relating to prerogative of mercy are being done at the Council of State at the level of the Federal or Central Government. I must firstly sound a note of caution that the theoretical settings well laid out in our Constitution as well as our other law books are actually world apart from what obtain in reality or practical terms. That is why it is very easy for lawyers who have had public service experience to set aside or nullify acts of government since they have seen it all while in the saddle as public officer.
That the bulk stops on the table of the Governor or the President may not be truly applicable in matters of exercise of prerogative of mercy.
Before proceeding, I will respectfully plead that any former Attorney-General of the Federation and or their aides who are members of LPD should help us to shed light on how it works out at the level of Central Government because I do not have such experience at all and I don’t want to fall in the same trap like our brother Comrades and Human Rights activists who are always holding themselves out as encyclopedia of knowledge of anything under the sun when indeed and in truth they themselves knew that are grossly handicapped in such matters. Also, they profess to be Saint Angel in all worldly affairs when deep down them they also know their main motivating factors. I must readily admit that we have sincere, honest and committed human or civil rights activists in Nigeria but their species are very few and constitute insignificant percentage of the whole lot.
Lest I be distracted from the meat of this piece, I was, by the special grace of God, the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Oyo State of Nigeria from August 2011 to 28th May, 2015 after which I voluntarily opted out and refused to serve a second term due to some personal reasons.
Under my watch as the Chairman of the State’s Prerogative of Mercy Committee, we did quite a number of amnesty exercises and they could not be less than 15 during my 4(four) year tenure.
Exercise of prerogative of mercy is a very big business for a corrupt Attorney-General and the officers of its Department of Public Prosecutions in particular and all members of the Council in general as those who are interested in using the Council to sidetrack the judiciary to get what they have lost up to the Supreme usually resort to that option which seems to be another final court after the Supreme Court.
Heavy and fat inducements mostly in cash and also in kind are usually made to the Attorney-General and members of the Committee to influence them in recommending and finally ensures that their client or person or inmates are get off the hook through that fast-trackedmode. I made bold to say as I stand before God and man in this holy month of Ramadan that I did not take or accept a dime from any person whatsoever in the exercises of all the grant of amnesty that I recommended to my Governor, Senator Abiola Adeyemi Ajimobi of blessed memory. I must not fail to add that my Governor trusted my sense of judgement too well that not a single recommendation of mine was refused or granted in part, rather I got all approved emblock or as recommended.
I must also add that I was offered mouth-watering and fat money ,both in local and foreign currency to influence my decision but I turned all of them down. In actual fact, some elderly statesmen, their Lords both spiritual and temporal, prominent politicians, lawyers and most especially some so-called operators of non-governmental organisations are worst culprits. One should just allow the sleeping dogs to lie and pass away because my readers would be terribly surprised and disappointed about the names of persons involved in the amnesty racket or syndicate.
Where attempt to influence one has failed or ignored, there were recourse to subtle threats , actual threats, intimidation, cheap blackmail and character assassination all in a bid to get the inmate off the hook by all means. Indeed, I also received threats of assassination and in some cases incitement of members of my immediate and extended family against me , yet I didn’t yield to such fluke.
Worthy of mention is the particular case of one Mr. Olusola Adepetun which his proposers went all the hog or out to subject me to both physical, emotional and psychological trauma which included about 16 fully dressed or robbed Ogboni confraternity members paying me a visit in my office at noon of a particular day in their full regalia and left threatening words that unless I set the man free that I was going to die within 30days of such refusal. When that failed, recourse were made to some spiritual “men” of God who gave me prophesies from their “Gods” that I should set free an innocent man in my “bondage” within 15 days failing which they said that their ” Gods” would strike me dead or that if I hearken to the words of their Gods that I would become another Rotimi Williams of the Nigerian legal profession. This actually was where my appellation while in office as the “Attorney-General West or AG West” actually originated from.
Posterity will not forgive me if I fail to acknowledge the tremendous support that I received from my colleagues in the government of Senator Abiola Ajimobi to wit : Dr. Festus Adedayo, our Special Adviser on Media and Communications and Alhaji( now Dr.) Akintunde Yunuss our Honourable Commissioner for Works and Transport, and later the Higher Executive Officer to the Governor both of whom I was always confiding in whenever I got such threats. Dr. Akintunde Yunuss is a man of deep native wisdom and intelligence while Dr. Festus Adedayo was so gifted and endowed by God that he could make jest and trivialities of any issues no matter how grievous.
In Adepetun’s matter, his proposers went as far as rail-roading Alhaji Lateef Jakande of blessed memory, the former Governor of Lagos State, Yeye Oba H.I.D Awolowo and later her daughter, Chief( Mrs.) Oyetola Oyediran both now of blessed memories to exert pressure on me through the Governor to get him off the hook at all cost. To the glory of God and also to the eternal credit of Senator Abiola Ajimobi, my discretion was never tampered with or influenced by my Governor in the matter and in all the matters of amnesty we granted.
To understand my refusal to recommend amnesty to Mr or Dr. Olusola Adepetun, kindly read the case of Olusola Adepetun v. The State SC/176/1977 also in part 565 of NWLR.
Dissenting judgement of a justice of the Supreme Court in the judgement was variously used to embarrass and blackmail me through various means that included but not limited to the main media and the social media, but since my conscience was very clear , I refused and stood my ground that the man was not deserving of any amnesty.
In matters of the recommendation of convicts and inmates for pardon, remission of sentence or removal from death row to life improvement, the office of the Honourable Attorney-General is very key and an Attorney-General that truly knows his onions is indeed a law unto himself and may abuse his office severely for various reasons as it may suit him.
In all my acts and affairs, public interest, good conscience and the fear of the true God were my guides and I did that faithfully free from bias, hatred, prejudices , likeness or affecrltion of any kind whatsoever. It was in pursuance of that that I did not have any difficulty whatsoever in recommending a lifer, Pa Ajibola for total pardon based on the recommendation of the fiery human rights and constitutional lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN.
All I have been labouring to say is that matters relating to exercise of prerogative of mercy or amnesty are not as simple and easy as they look when we read them in the news or when we heard the announcement in the broadcast media, too many factors are always at play and woven into it and like Mr. Raji Babatunde Fashola, SAN the amiable and dutiful former Governor of Lagos State and now the Minister of Works once said , ” May our loyalty never be tested ” . I make bold to say that my loyalty was never tested while in office as the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Oyo State
Dated at Ibadan, this 17th April, 2022.
Mutalubi Ojo Adebayo Esq.,
Asiwaju of Idi-Aro and Ita-Ege,
Ibadan South-East Local Government Area of Oyo State of Nigeria
+234 80332 75495