Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, has denied asking President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the use of Nigeria’s constitution to be able to tackle the escalating insecurity in the country more effectively.
The AGF in a statement by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, asked Nigerians to disregard news reports accusing him of writing a secret memo to the president in which he advised that the fundamental rights of all Nigerians as guaranteed under chapter IV of the constitution be suspended owing to insecurity.
Peoples Gazette reported on Wednesday that Malami had written a legal advice to Buhari to consider declaring nationwide state of emergency and suspend the constitution to widen the government’s latitude in dealing with the worsening security situation in the country without any legal impediment.
According to the publication, Malami specifically urged the president to suspend the fundamental rights of all Nigerians as guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution.
It said Malami, in the eight-page “secret memo” dated May 4, 2021, told Buhari that insecurity across Nigeria had reached a level that could no longer be checked by existing democratic techniques, saying only a state of emergency promulgated by the president can help return the country to tranquillity.
The reported quoted Malami as writing in part;
The essence of declaration is to allow for suspension of constitutional and legal bureaucratic bottlenecks pertaining to matters of National Security with particular regards to fundamental rights guaranteed under Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution and processes and procedures relating to procurements, among others.
Malami, according to the report, said the president should issue instruments of emergency and publish them in the federal gazette.
However, reacting to this, Malami denied the report through a statement issued by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu.
He urged the members of the public to “disregard the media report as fabrications of anti-constitutional democratic stability in Nigeria.”
Malami described himself as “a true democrat who believes in rules of law and tenant of democracy and constitutional order.”
The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is a constitutionally recognised one with its role and responsibilities embedded in the constitution.
It is antithetical to common sense to think that the holder of such coveted Office as the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice will stoop to what was printed by the media.
The statement added;
The government does not operate in secrecy as it is not a clandestine operation. Hence, Malami discharges his constitutionally recognised mandates in compliance with principles of transparency, openness and accountability.
Nigeria has the history of suspension of the constitution only during the many years of military dictatorship when the country was governed by decree.
Buhari himself led the country between 1984 and 1985 as a military dictator during which the constitution was put on suspension.
The closest to it that Nigeria has seen since the return to democratic rule in 1999 was during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo when democratic institutions were suspended in some states where state of emergency was declared in response to security concerns.
However, former President Goodluck Jonathan resisted to take such controversial decision when he declared a state of emergency in some states during his administration.
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