At least 87 civil rights lawyers and 10 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, have indicated interest to render free legal services to the former member of the House of Representatives, Otunba Dino Melaye, over the libel suit instituted against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN.
According to the lawyers, their services fall under pro bono services to tackle the 11-man legal team raised by the AGF in the N10.2 billion suit slammed on Melaye who is the Executive Secretary of the Anti-Corruption Network at an Abuja High Court.
Melaye however told Journalists that neither himself nor the anti-graft group had been served the court notice.
“It shows that those in the legal profession have recognized the abuse of office and flagrant disregard for the rule of law by the AGF. Many of the lawyers complained of the conduct of the AGF and have vowed to furnish this case with additional information and obvious cases of abuse of office by Adoke.
“The bastardization, monetization and commercialization of the legal profession must stop. Conflict of interest must become history. Public interest must be placed above selfish or personal interest in the discharge of official responsibilities in the office of the AGF. The battle to salvage our country from all forms of abuse of office is a battle of no retreat, no surrender,” Melaye said.
The Anti-corruption Network had in a petition to President Goodluck Jonathan on April 11, 2013, accused the AGF of corruption and “outrageous use of powers against public interest,” which made the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar to order for investigations into the matter on the orders of the presidency.
One of the 87 lawyers ready to defend Melaye, Mr. Sikiru Akinrele, who practices at the Chambers of late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, said he would defend Melaye provided he has his facts.
“The justice system should encourage free legal services. If Dino (Melaye) has his facts, I will defend him in court or advise him accordingly. I want to encourage him to do what is right, even if he is standing alone; he will know that some people appreciate him.
“Melaye should be heard on the merit without being hampered with finance. Remember that Nigerians (lawyers and Judges inclusive) rallied round Chief Gani Fawehinmi when his chambers was to be sold for a judgment debt that the whole world decried,” Akinrele said.