...Says his legal opinion has not been consulted

Abubakar Malami, Vincent Adekoye, Dame Julie Okah-Donli, NAPTIP
Nigeria's attorney general of the federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN

Mr. Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s federal attorney-general and justice minister has denied media reports that he is behind the legal stalemate over the Abia State governorship seat, saying “those canvassing the position have no basis to do so”.

While insisting that so far, nobody has approached him to proffer any legal opinion to the Abia State crisis, Malami urged the parties involved to await the decision of the courts.

According to him, the insinuations are a figment of the imagination of those “pushing the irredeemable lies into public space which only translates to partisanship on the side of its purveyors.”

The statement, e-mailed to The Trent and signed by a spokesperson for the AGF, Dr. Othman Salihu Isah on Sunday, July 3, 2016 was in reaction to a story on the front page of a national newspaper with the headline, Abia: Buhari Awaits AGF’s advice on Stalemate.

The full statement is below:

“The attention of the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to the insinuations and crass lies being peddled and disseminated by a cross-section of Nigerians and the various media platforms that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation is behind the legal logjam over the Abia state governorship seat and wish to clarify that those canvassing this position have no basis to do so.

“Of particular concern are those who have peddled ill-natured rumours with a view to misinform our discerning populace that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and by extension, the Federal Government of Nigeria that gave directives to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue Certificate of Return to Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah declaring him Governor-Elect. He has definitely not taken any action either by spoken words or body language as far as this Abia governorship crisis is concerned.

“I wish to therefore, on behalf of my principal declare that these rumours are untrue and a figment of the imagination of those pushing these selfish, shameless and irredeemable lies into public space which only translates to partisanship on the side of its purveyors.

“As far as the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation is concerned, the constitutional powers for the legal opinion of his office have not been invoked on this issue. So far, nobody has approached him to proffer any legal opinion to it. As a strong believer in the rule of law, it is his belief that the law should naturally take its cause. The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation will not be dragged into this controversy and mind-games being played out by the various legal minds and spin doctors of both camps at this point.

“The parties involved should await the decision of the courts. In fact, we wish to by this statement advise those in the habit of dragging the highly esteemed Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice into knotty issue of this kind even when it is yet to take a position. They should desist from these unwarranted presumptions henceforth.”

Abia Governorship Tussle

Governor Ikpeazu is facing a legal challenge from a bitter rival from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Uche Ogah. A federal high court in Abuja disqualified Dr. Ikpeazu, last Wednesday on account of alleged forged tax returns.

Ikpeazu had filed an appeal and obtained a stay of execution, against the Justice Okon Abang judgement which threw Abia State into a leadership crisis by ordering the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to issue a certificate of return to Ogah, who did not contest any election.

INEC went on to issue the certificate of return to Ogah in disobedience to the court injunction.

Meanwhile, a high court in Abia has issued an injunction against the swearing-in of Dr. Ogah. Reports from Abia on Friday claimed that the chief judge of the state had “disappeared”.

However, Sunday, Justice Theresa Uzokwe issued a statement denying the reports saying she is “on ground” in Umuahia, the state’s capital. She said the reports were the handiwork of desperate politicians.

“We have become children of war in Abia, and we must fight war,” Governor Ikpeazu told his supporters who trooped into Government House, Umuahia in solidarity on Friday, July 1, 2016.

Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, governor of Abia State at a solidarity rally at the Government House in Umuahia, Abia State on Friday, July 1, 2016 | Obed Nnaji
Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, governor of Abia State at a solidarity rally at the Government House in Umuahia, Abia State on Friday, July 1, 2016 | Obed Nnaji

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