According to Sections 171 and 211 et seq, of the 1999 Constitution, the attorney general of the federation, AGF is mandated to exercise the absolute powers of the law with due regards to public interest, the interest of justice, and the need to prevent abuse of legal process. These two constitutional provisions mandated the ethical conduct of the AGF as a neutral number one counsel and defender of the rule of law and civil rights, including due process.
The incumbent AGF in the person of Abubakar Malami, SAN, has betrayed the high office of attorney-general by engaging in conflict of interests and acting as a political party agent in the ongoing senate rule forgery litigation. Malami was the private lawyer who helped Senator Othman Hunkuyi petitioned the inspector general of police about the alleged senate rules forgery.
Judicial ethics demands a self-recusal of AGF Malami from anything that has to do with the senate rules forgery case.
Unfortunately, Malami did not have the ethical fortitude to recuse himself or declare his complicity and conflicts of interest to the public or the court of Law. AGF Malami’s immense moral failing sacrificed the public interests in the senate forgery case for the promotion of his personal legal practice and for scoring political points.
An ostensible air of betrayal of public trust surrounds Malami’s endorsement of a lawsuit based on his private practice with no apparent justifications other than the protection of his clients and appointors’ interests.
Malami has desecrated the extolled office of attorney-general by taking actions to promote his personal and appointors’ political interests over the interests of the nation. Contrary to his oaths office, Malami supported a level of lawlessness and violation of due process that is unparalleled in the distinguished history of the office he occupies.
Beyond reasonable doubt, Malami has turned the federal attorney-general’s office into his personal political law practice. Consequently, Malami has terminated his legitimacy and qualification to occupy the high office.
According to the professional opinion of Professor I. E. Sagay. “the office of the attorney-general is the important position of historical and ethical significance…we in the developing world, who have adopted the legal system of the civilized world, must maintain the traditions, conventions and standards of the institutions we have borrowed. We must not desecrate institutions of great historical and constitutional importance; neither should we bring them into disrepute.”
If the Buhari administration is serious about fighting corruption, it must remove Malami as its chief law officer for perverting the constitutional purpose of his office. Violation of due process just to get the desired outcome is the height of procedural corruption. AGF Malami is guilty of corrupt practices and complicity with the intent to defraud the nation and distort the cause of justice.
A sitting attorney general rebuked by the court for willful and reckless mockery of the court and due process has brought the office and the nation’s laws to disrepute. Malami has instituted legal proceedings with unclean hands in violation of the constitutional stipulates of the post of attorney general of the federation.
He is longer fit to serve as the chief law officer of Nigeria; he must abdicate his position except if we agree to abide by a bewildering code of judicial corruption and legal impunity. If Malami has any modicum of integrity left in him, he should resign and apologise to the nation. Otherwise, he can do what he does best, ignore the reality once again or sue me. Whatever, Malami chooses to do is up to him, but I stand by my call #MalamiMustGoNow.
The world is watching, albeit disgustingly as the Buhari administration opens a new chapter of despotic and judicial irresponsibility with Malami at the helm.
Those who continue to support impunity in the name of anti-corruption must remember their children and grandchildren may someday pay the ultimate price of the dangerous precedents they glorified as righteousness.
The issues at stake are bigger than Malami and greater than each and every one of us. It is about the sanctity of our legal system and protecting the guarantees of civil rights for generations to come.
Olusegun Phillips-Alonge is passionate about responsible ethical leadership, poverty eradication and sustainable socio-economic development of Nigeria. Connect with him on Facebook where this commentary was first published.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.