A former Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BOB), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), has condemned the call for an Interim National Government, describing the call as an invitation to anarchy.
Five political parties dissatisfied with the outcome of the presidential election held on February 25, had filed their various petitions at the presidential election petition tribunal, seeking to nullify the election of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
While some of them in their petitions are calling for a fresh conduct of the election on the grounds that the one which produced Tinubu as president-elect was marred by irregularities, it was alleged that some other dissatisfied persons are however calling for the installation of an interim administration to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Reacting to the alleged call for an interim government, Olanipekun warned those behind the call to immediately perish such because it is a situation that would consume everyone including those in support of it.
He spoke in Abuja during the send forth dinner organised by the Body of Bench on Thursday at the end of his one-year tenure as the 50th chairman of the body, which began on March 31, 2022.
“It is unconstitutional. To me, it comes from the pit of hell. Calling for interim national government? Where did you get it from? How do you compartmentalise it? How do you accommodate it within a constitutional democracy? I as a lawyer, I don’t know the jurisprudence that will accommodate it.
“Let’s face it. Whenever there is election anywhere in the world, there is bound to be disagreement. But, if for every disagreement, you say let us disband the system, that does not make sense. You can’t throw away the baby with the bath water. It is never done,” he said.
Olanipekun, who cited cases from developed countries where election outcome had been disputed, urged those aggrieved to explore the opportunities provided by the constitution and the statute having gone to court.
He recalled the unpleasant experience the nation had under the last interim government experiment of the late Chief Ernest Shonekan in the country, describing it as an ill wind that will blow no one any good.
“I am not saying all is well. In every institution created by God for man, there would be minuses. You don’t have 100 per cent anywhere. I am not saying there is no room for improvement. But, don’t let us call for anarchy. No one is going to benefit from it, not even those calling for it,” he said.
He pleaded with those calling for interim national government to reconsider and think of what will be the outcome.
On a retrospective assessment of his tenure, Olanipekun said he felt fulfilled for what God had done through him for the law profession during his tenure as the chairman of the BOB.
He noted that the BOB is peopled by the best in the legal profession in the country, and thanked members of the body for their unflinching support during his tenure.
“What is life about? We all pray that we end well. I started well a year ago as the Chairman, Body of Benchers, and I have ended well…I am at peace with myself and I pray that God will be at peace with me,” he added.
Eminent Nigerians, who were at the event, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola; Ekiti State Governor, Abiodun Oyebanji, Justice Mary Odili (who stepped in a the new BOB Chairman) and many senior lawyers, spoke glowingly about Olanipekun.
Justice Ariwoola said it is impossible to doubt the sterling contributions that Olanipekun has made to the development of the legal profession in the country and beyond.
Commending him for his impact while in office, the CJN noted that: “Great men like Olanipekun, naturally have their tentacles spread across the path of unimaginable generations of beneficiaries of his magnanimous disposition.
“The respected SAN has been bestriding the Nigerian legal landscape with iconic academic discernment for over four decades now.
“He is one lawyer that has latched on our memory an enviable degree of intellectual eminence and legal finesse that encompass all spheres of philosophy and methodical reasoning.
“He is a very unique and nationalistic Nigerian with a radical posture of justice and the rule of law. He is very straight and consciously principled in disposition.
“Even though he is elitist and dignified in carriage, he still relates exceptionally well with the down trodden, as his entire life is totally devoid of duplicity, undue arrogance and elitism. He is, by all standards, a rare gem and an unblemished specimen.”
Justice Odili testified that Olanipekun discharged his duties without blemish while he headed the BOB, and promised to build on his achievements.
Governor Oyebanji described Olanipekun as a great philanthropist, an inspiration and a pride to Ekiti State.