In this article, ADEBOLA OLAROTIMI LEMA, a former Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch and Partner in the Lagos law firm of Fountain Court Partners, tackles frontline politician and former Ondo State Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Hon. D. Isaac Kekemeke over his recent comments on the forthcoming Ondo Governorship Election
A few days ago, a video surfaced on the social media where Hon. D. Isaac Kemekeke, a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ondo State and a senior lawyer was talking to some group of persons. In the video, Kemekeke issued threats of giving Ondo State electorate the Yahaya Bello and militant treatments.
The said video was subsequently confirmed by Kemekeke in his response to a genuine concern raised by Her eminence, Moyinoluwa Olubunmi Falowo, the Regent of Ibulesoro, Akure, Ondo State in an open letter to the learned senior lawyer. Kemekeke went ahead to affirm his ‘militant treatment’ prescription but was silent on the ‘Yahaya Bello treatment.’
For those who haven’t watched the video or non-Yoruba speaking persons who may have seen the video, Hon. Isaac Kekemeke mentioned ‘Idajo’ (a moniker for Ondo State Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers), Bayo Igbira and Amoda. My interactions with members of the public on the relevance of the above-mentioned persons revealed they are non-state actors and or politicians who may have tendencies to disrupt electioneering campaigns and elections.
Kekemeke went ahead to mention ‘Federal might,’ a reference to the use of the various security apparatus of the Federal Government to intimidate the electorate of Ondo State during the election. He stated that Eyitayo Jegede, SAN the candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has been raving that his posters have been defaced, and that he hasn’t seen anything yet! He also said that he is a militant, and that none of the candidates in the upcoming election can withstand and or talk to Yahaya Bello, the Kogi State Governor whose election in November, 2019 was characterized by violence and deaths.
There is no doubt that the sole intent of the video is to overawe and instill fear in the hearts and minds of the Ondo electorate as they approach the Gubernatorial Election scheduled for 10th October, 2020. The inescapable conclusion of any discerning viewer of the video is the suggestion of deployment of violence to foment trouble, destabilize and intimidate the electorate during the elections.
I believe that a senior lawyer like Kemekeke ought not to make inciting comments at all, how much more in public. Furthermore, a lawyer is under obligation among other things ‘to uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the cause of justice, maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and shall not engage in any conduct which is unbecoming of a legal practitioner.’ The above are the exact words of Rule 1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners issued by the Attorney General of the Federation and Chairman of the General Council of the Bar pursuant to the Legal Practitioners Act (LPA).
Hon. D. Isaac Kekekmeke, Esq is a senior lawyer, a former Attorney General of Ondo State and Commissioner for Justice; a former Commissioner for Lands; an elder in the State and a leader in his own right.
I am well aware that Hon. D. Isaac Kekekmeke did express his intention to be Governor of Ondo State in the last Gubernatorial primaries of one of the political parties and lost. May be his loss is not unconnected to his inability to bridle his tongue, as the Holy Writ admonishes. Who knows?
Let me digress a little by going historical. I have known the senior lawyer for over three decades while living at Chief Aworunse’s House (down) Irewole Street, Okitipupa, Ondo State and I was endeared to him then as a young school leaver by the fact that he was a gentle and humble lawyer. Amongst his contemporaries then were Chief Olusola Oke SAN; Chief Olajide Ajana, SAN; Honourable Justice Fola Adeyeye; Honourable Justice Peter Ikujuni; Apostle O. B. Tobase; late Ade Ayeomoni etc. Subsequently, I became a classmate to his younger sister at Mr. Goma’s lesson in 1993 when I was preparing for Joint Admission and Matriculation Board JAMB examination.
Fast forward to 2002 while doing my Court and Chambers attachments at the High Court of Ondo State in Akure (the Court and Chambers attachments being prerequisite for the award of the Bachelor of Laws (BL) Certificate by the Nigerian Law School) where he had his office at Toyin Bookshop. I was opportuned to visit his law firm before I concluded the said Court and Chambers attachment.
All my respect and regards for Hon. D. Isaac Kekemeke, over the years were deflated and lost the day I watched the video where he threatened the entire people of Ondo State with the Yahaya Bello’s treatment and militant attack.
It may be that Hon. D. Isaac Kekemeke has lost sight of the circumstances surrounding the General Elections in 2015 where an incumbent President with the enormous powers at his disposal was defeated in the first of its kind in Nigeria’s history as a nation. The then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan even congratulated the winner before the final results were declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) thereby laying a foundation for the country to accept defeat where necessary and avoid overheating the polity. It also earned the former President accolades around the world. Again, in 2019, Governor Seyi Makinde defeated an incumbent party in Oyo State to emerge as the Governor of the State. Other states in the country where the incumbent Governors were defeated are Adamawa and Bauchi States and the people in the said states were not given Yahaya Bello or Militant treatments.
The lessons in the above instances are that incumbency without more is nothing. What helps the incumbents is the opportunity to affect the lives of the people while in power. Democracy is as good and efficient in that it makes election a recurrent activity, such that no matter how powerful a Governor, a President or a Legislator is a day will come – at least once in 4 years – when he or she will go before the electorate to seek for their votes; and no power on earth, not even the power of guns, artilleries and mortars could prevent the electorate from exercising their right to choose who they want.
If Hon. D. Isaac Kekemeke’s party has not done what it ought to do in the last 42 months or he has lost record of what the party has done I will like to encourage him to go back to the drawing board and take an inventory of what its party has done and start mentioning them one after the other so the people who sit in judgement on election day may consider his political party or reject it. However, elections are not won on threat of violence or militancy and I believe the lesson of 2007 Ondo State General Election which PDP lost to the Labour Party will serve as a lesson here. I am sure Hon. D. Isaac Kekemeke knows what I am saying, because he was a senior member of late Dr. Olusegun Kokumo Agagu’s administration which the Court of Appeal sacked on 24th February, 2009 as a result of the challenge by the Labour Party led by Dr. Olusegun Rahman Mimiko.
The question that will agitate the minds of all the indigenes of Ondo State and their friends across the country is: What will be the gain of our leader if his militants and militia men kill or maim indigenes of Ondo State? Whether in the interim or in the long run, there will be no gain, learned senior. History is not nice to anyone who intimidates others with powers that God gave to them. Even Paul, the Apostle, regretted his actions in the death of Apostle Stephen. He said in his epistle to the people of Ephesus in Ephesians 2: 8-9, ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith, and not of yourselves, It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast’.
Let me use this opportunity to remind the learned senior lawyer that he owes the legal profession and some of us his juniors and admirers a lot of explanations on the said video. Hon. D. Isaac Kekemeke has stylishly in his response to the Regent said Eyitayo Jegede, SAN will not be harmed by him as he has no capacity to harm him neither will he be visited with Yahaya Bello’s or militant treatment. I am of the opinion that it is not only the candidates that should be assured of safety; all the indigenes of the State need the assurance that no harm will come to them. As postulated earlier, the learned senior lawyer has a duty not to engage in any act unbecoming of a legal practitioner, which duty he must observe at all times. Let me also remind him that the infractions for which the former Attorney General of the Federation, Michael Andoanka, SAN was derobed as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria was not far from what Kekemeke exhibited in the uncontrolled statements made in the video. The earlier he retraces his steps, the better.
I will implore our leader and self-acclaimed ‘militant’ to read again ‘The Casualties’ by Professor J. P. Clark. Two lines in the poem read as follows; ‘The casualties are not only those who started a fire and now can’t put out. The casualties are many and a good number as well outside the scenes of ravage and wreck’. Professor J. P. Clark captured the above lines succinctly and the lines perfectly fit the situation on ground. The indigenes of the State who are to be given the Yahaya Bello’s treatment are our brothers and sisters, our fathers and our mothers, our friends and our colleagues, our nieces and our nephews, our cousins and our neighbours, our uncles and our aunties, our children and our siblings, our teachers and the civil servants, our farmers and students, our okada riders and our drivers, our unemployed out-of-school indigenes of the state and those who have been laid off from their jobs by several circumstances beyond their control. The people who are meting out the treatments on the other hand may be indigenes of the State who have sold their hearts to the devil or those from other States in Nigeria.
During the 1983 General Election in Ondo State I was 10 years old then and I witnessed how an NPN leader threatened my father with his pistol which the NPN Government had procured for its leaders; 37 years afterwards that incident hasn’t left my mind – it has become worse now.
I believe the best a senior lawyer and a committed party member ought to do to support his political party is to campaign on the amenities that his party has done in the last 4 years but to threaten violence on the electorate is disastrous and below the expectation of the revered senior lawyer and leader. What happened in 1983 was a spontaneous reaction to similar indiscriminate statements by political leaders.
Again in 2007, the ‘Owo Agbara’ and ‘Wogba Wegba’ – which literarily means ‘the Hand of Power’ and ‘By Force by Crook’ – mentality of the PDP and Labor Party led to the highjack of ballot boxes using military men and securities agencies. This caused a lot of havoc to the psyche of Ondo State people. The end-result was the sacking of the PDP Government.
Hon. D. Isaac Kekemeke should speedily retrace his steps and seek genuine forgiveness to avoid the curse of the people of Ondo State. He should not be fooled that the incumbent Governor of the State will hand over power to him in February, 2025. I am a student of political history and those who lead and or rule this country are chosen by God and not by overzealousness which your statement and body language depict.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was not ready to be Head of State in 1976 when Murtala Mohammed was assassinated. Neither was he ready to lead in 1998 when he was released from prison by the Abdusalami Abubakar Government.
Remember that the late Abubakar Audu was already a winner of the Gubernatorial election in Kogi State in 2016 when death came calling at 4: 30 am. Also recall that his running mate, Hon. James Faleke lost out, even though he challenged his loss from the Federal High Court through the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.
I learnt too that Olagunsoye Oyinlola was only interested in becoming a Senator in Osun State before a party leader in PDP allegedly told him that if he had N20 Million Naira to pursue his campaign he would become the Governor of the State.
Mr. Dapo Abiodun, Governor of Ogun State was not a longstanding member of his party before he became the gubernatorial candidate. Mind you, the initial primaries that produced the likes of Babajide Sanwoolu in Lagos and Adebayo Adelabu in Oyo State also produced Mr. Adekunle Akinlade in Ogun State. But because the powers brokers spurned Akinlade due to his closeness to the former Governor of the State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, another gubernatorial primaries was ordered. Abiodun won and the rest is history.
In the final analysis, I call on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari to urgently call Hon. D. Isaac Kekemeke to order and preserve the people of Ondo State. I also call on both the Director General and Ondo State Director of the Department of State Service, the Inspector General of Police, and the Ondo State Commissioner of Police to immediately invite Hon. Isaac Kekemeke for questioning.
I call on the well-meaning indigenes and leaders of thought in Ondo State – and by extension lovers of the State across the country – to prevail on the relevant agencies of government to do their work in this regard.
I call on Civil Society Groups in Ondo State and Nigerian at large to stand up to Hon. D. Isaac Kekemeke and his goons who are apparently planning to foment violence on the people of Ondo State in the October 2020 Governorship Election to retrace their steps and embrace peace.
I call on all our traditional rulers – Obas and Chiefs in Ondo State and Nigerian at large – to call Hon. D. Isaac Kekemeke to order and impress on him the urgent need to embrace peace and desist from threatening violence on the people of Ondo State.
I call on our religious leaders in Ondo State and Nigeria at large to appeal to Hon. D. Isaac Kekemeke not to foment violence with any militia. I call on the Body of Benchers, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) to immediately commence a disciplinary action against Hon. Isaac Kekemeke to serve as deterrence to others.
May I also call on the Executive Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, a legal luminary and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), to immediately intervene and call Hon. Isaac Kekemeke to order. If after 3 years and six months in office as Governor of the State members of your party do not have tangible dividends of democracy to convince their followers to support their political party, it does speak volume either they are inept or they are out to cause embarrassment to the ruling government.
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