Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), will lead a team of senior lawyers who will defend the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Election Tribunal. Olanipekun is the same lawyer defending the suspended Chief Justice of the Federation, Walter Onnoghen, in his trial brought by the Buhari-led government. He is also challenging the suspension of the chief justice by Pres. Buhari.
The appointment of Olanipekun to lead Buhari’s legal team is just one in a long list of lawyers easily switching sides across parties in election tribunals, sometimes arguing against something on behalf of one candidate, while arguing in favor of the same thing for a different candidate in another state.
Another example: Alex Izinyon, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is in a different legal team put together by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to defend the party at the election tribunal. Izinyon, an Ijaw man from the same ethnic stock as former president Goodluck Jonathan, defended that other president in several court suits right from when Jonathan assumed the acting presidency in 2010. He is also the lead lawyer for Jonathan’s wife, Patience, in her assets forfeiture case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), an agency under the presidency.
Other members of the legal teams:
Buhari’s team – In addition to Olanipekun, there is Yusuf Alli, SAN, A.B. Mahmoud SAN, Funke Adekoya, SAN, Femi Atoyebi, SAN, Mike Igbokwe, SAN, Osa Egbobamien, SAN, Akin Osinbajo SAN (the younger brother of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo) and Niyi Akintola, SAN.
APC’s team – In addition to Izinyon, there is Lateef Fagbemi SAN, who will lead the team, Charles Edosonwan, SAN, Prof. Taiwo Osopitan, SAN, Y.C. Maikyau, SAN, Dr. Muiz Banire SAN (the chairman of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, Ibrahim Bawa, SAN, Benbella Anaechebe, SAN and Festus Keyamo, SAN (the spokesperson of the Buhari campaign).
Meanwhile, the former Vice President and PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, had earlier commissioned a legal team for his petition. The team is led by Dr Livy Uzoukwu, SAN. The PDP also has a legal team led by a former attorney-general of the federation, Kanu Agabi, SAN.