The Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, has opposed a suit in which a former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, asked an Abuja Federal High Court to compel him to institute criminal proceedings against MTN Nigeria Communications Limited over alleged suppression of evidence.
Oyinlola had dragged the AGF to court after the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Simon Egede, acting on behalf of the AGF, authored a legal advice which instructed the police not to go ahead to press charges against MTN after a police report recommended the prosecution of the firm for allegedly frustrating the assignment of a Special Investigative Panel of the National Judicial Council by providing incomplete call data records to security agencies.
A Special Task Force set up by the Inspector-General of Police to investigate a petition written by Oyinlola had recommended the prosecution of the telecommunication company for attempting to suppress evidence.
But, following Egede’s legal advice, no charge was brought against MTN.
After it emerged that Egede was the AGF’s Special Assistant and therefore not qualified to hold the office of DPP, Oyinlola’s lawyer, Adebisi Raimi, is arguing that “all the official duties purportedly performed or carried out by Simon Egede variously as Acting Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, or as a substantive Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation were null and void.”
Insisting that the AGF was bound by the provisions of section 174 (1) (2) (3) of the 1999 Constitution to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in Nigeria, Oyinlola asked the court to order the AGF to prosecute MTN.
However, the AGF has opposed the application, asking the court to dismiss it with cost.
At a hearing in the matter on Monday, counsel to the AGF, Taiwo Abidogun, said that no case was established against the telecommunication company to warrant its prosecution by the AGF.
He noted that although the police had in its report on Oyinlola’s petition recommended MTN’s prosecution, the AGF was not bound by the police’s opinion.
Abidogun said the AGF had already taken a decision on the matter by deciding that there was no grounds to press charges against MTN.