Kanu Godwin Agabi
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Meet Kanu Godwin Agabi, the Legal Veteran Challenging the State of Nigerian Democracy

Kanu Godwin Agabi is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria with 40 years under his belt. In 1997  he served two-terms as the federation’s Attorney General.  

Agabi was also Minister of Justice, where he distinguished himself as Nigeria’s Chief Legal Officer and top attorney in the country.

On September 15, 1997, Agabi was named a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He attempted to run for governor of Cross River State in the elections of April 1999, but Donald Duke prevailed. According to reports, he ran for the same office in the 2003 elections.

He currently holds the position of Principal Partner at Nigeria’s top law firm, Kanu G. Agabi & Associates.

Due to his contributions to fostering the nation, Kanu Agabi has been awarded the title of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). Kanu Agabi served as the President’s Special Advisor on Ethics and Good Governance as well as the Minister of Solid Minerals Development.


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Minister of Justice 

Agabi wrote in a letter to the state governors of Nigeria in March 2002 regarding how the application of strict Islamic law, or Sharia law, was illegal since some Sharia rulings discriminated against Muslims.

In August 2002, Amina Lawal, a young Nigerian woman charged with giving birth to a child outside of marriage, received a death-by-stoning verdict that was upheld by an appeals court for the Shari’ah in Funtua, Katsina State. Amnesty International put pressure on Agabi to end the death penalty in Nigeria.

The Attorney General requested that the National Assembly leadership be arrested and imprisoned for contempt of court in May 2003 before a Federal High Court in Abuja. He urged the court to overturn the anti-graft measure that the National Assembly had signed into law against the president’s veto.

Source: The Guardian Nigeria

Kanu Godwin Agabi against the Federal Government 

According to Kanu Godwin Agabi, Nigeria’s current democracy is worse than the worst type of dictatorship since the presidential style of government gives the executive branch an excessive amount of power.

It was clear from Agabi’s remarks during the first inaugural lecture for the late Hon. Justice Ambros Allagoa, the first indigenous Chief Judge of the former Rivers State, that Nigerians had a fundamental misunderstanding of democracy.

He claimed that because only a select few had historically chosen who would rule, democracy could not exist or flourish in a nation where individuals did not enjoy equal rights and opportunities.

“The presidential system of government is actually a dictatorship under the constitution. This is because all executive powers are vested in one man, either the president or the governor.

“We elected that system, because they were tendencies towards division in the nation and it was hoped that after investing all these powers in one person, they will use that power to go ahead and build the nation together.

Later career

In a lawsuit brought by General Muhammadu Buhari, the then All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) presidential candidate, seeking to jail INEC Chairman Professor Maurice Iwu for denying Buhari’s attorneys access to election documents, Agabi represented the INEC in June 2007.

In May 2009, Agabi served as the attorney for Nicholas Ugbane, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, who had been accused of participating in a scheme to defraud the government of roughly N5.2 billion intended for rural electrification.


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