Buhari’s Former Attorney General Trying To Justify Breaking The Law

Buhari’s Former Attorney General Trying To Justify Breaking The Law

By Wires Editor | The Trent on July 27, 2019
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Abubakar Malami, Vincent Adekoye, Dame Julie Okah-Donli, NAPTIP
Nigeria's attorney general of the federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN

Abubakar Malami, the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, has on Friday, July 26, 2019, explained why many Nigerians still remain in custody even after they have been granted bail.

According to him, the AGF has the responsibility to protect the rights of individuals but the Office of the AGF prioritises public interest.

According to him, the AGF has the responsibility to protect the rights of individuals but the Office of the AGF prioritises public interest.

Mr Malami said this while fielding questions from lawmakers during the screening of ministerial nominees.

He is one of the 43 ministers appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The government has been accused of not complying with court orders. Many Nigerians and Civil Society Groups have frowned at how Nigerians granted bail are still remanded in custody.

One of such cases is the remand of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. The continuous refusal of the government to release him despite a court order has sparked outrage from Nigerians across the country – including members of the movement who have had clashes with security officers while demanding the release of their leader.

Another such case is ex-National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki who has been granted bail by six different courts including the Court of Appeal. He is yet to be released. He is being tried for alleged fraud while in office and alleged possession of arms.

The Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, asked the nominee why he has not guaranteed the rights of Nigerians who have been granted bail and are still in custody.

In his response, Mr Malami conceded that he has had the responsibility to protect the right of individuals.

“But looking at Section 174 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I want to state that the office of the AGF is meant to protect public interest and where the individual interest conflicts with the public interest, the interest of 180 million Nigerians that are interested in having this country integrated must naturally prevail.

“That provision has been very well captured by the Apex Court in the case of Asari Dokubo versus the federal government, that where an individual interest conflicts the public interest, the public interest naturally prevails,” he explained.

Cooperation will aid signing of bills

The former AGF also explained that collaboration between the three arms of government will reduce the consistent rejection of bills by the president.

He was asked what he will do to ensure that bills passed by the National Assembly National Assembly will be assented to by the president.

Mr Malami explained that any problem associated with the running of the government is embedded in the absence of collaboration and cooperation.

“The major thing I can do differently to ensure bills from the national assembly are assented to by the president, is to establish a culture of deep-rooted collaboration not as we see it today. What we have today is simply a public hearing arrangement as a means of exchanging opinions and observations.

“A bill ought to be shared among the executive, judiciary and legislative in the name of national interest – so as to entertain opinions and objections,” he said.

He further explained that lack of collaboration was one of the major reasons the Petroleum Industry Bill was rejected by the president.

“The PIB, for instance, was rejected among others because the interest of the host community was at a point, compromised. In the sense that some sections were brought into it conferring powers on an individual as against the institution.

“That is one of the reasons it was declined. If at the point of conception, there was a collaboration in terms of understanding with judiciary, executive and relevant institutions, it would have been assented to.”

What I will do as Minister of Justice

When asked what he will do if re-appointed to head the justice ministry, he said the judiciary intends to work effectively.

“I want to be remembered as an AGF that stopped this nation from disintegrating by taking into consideration what is being manifested arising from hate speeches among others.

“I will ensure that out laws relating to treasonable felony are indeed effectively brought to here to ensure that this nation remains one and the same.

“I will ensure that we intensify the fight against corruption and recover debts locally and internationally make our system of governance most effective,” he said.

My achievements AGF

During his presentation, Mr Malami said he had modest achievements during his tenure as AGF. He said under him, bills like the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Bill, Proceeds of Crimes Bill, Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill and Anti terrorism bill were brought to the National Assembly.

“I came up with executive order 6 which was signed by the President. Policies were not only created but indeed enforced.

“In terms of the fight against terrorism, we have succeeded within the time I was made Attorney General worked on 63 terrorism cases and secured 59 convictions. We take gross effective measures. I am happy to report we have succeeded in helping the government to save N145 billion and in dollar $5 billion within a period of 3 years.

“We increased the recovery account from N19 billion to N279 billion, as at November 2018,” he said.

Before he left the chamber, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the questions asked were good and Mr Malami brilliantly answered them.

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