The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, is denying reports that he wrote a letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), requesting for a postponement of the general elections in Zamfara State. His calims have however been proven to be false as INEC disclosed on Thursday night that it had indeed received such a letter.
Backstory: Malami, in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Salihu Isah, said he only wrote to draw the attention of the commission to the need to consider a recent judgment of the Court of Appeal in favour of the APC. Isah said that Malami wrote to inform INEC of a petition from M.A Mahmud about the subsisting Court of Appeal decision. He asked INEC to comply by extending the time within which the APC may field its candidate since, in his opinion, the circumstances which led to the delay in fielding a candidate were caused by INEC’s refusal to comply with the Zamfara State High Court judgment, which upheld the said APC’s primaries.
“It is, therefore, our position that shutting a candidate out of the elections despite a subsisting Court of Appeal’s decision mandating otherwise would lead to a miscarriage of justice and certainly not in the interest of giving all parties in Zamfara State a level playing field,” the statement said.
“It is, therefore, obvious that what the insinuations in the social media and some conventional news outlets set out to achieve on the strength of this issue is to confuse the electorate and Nigerians at large and/or to portray the ruling government as insensitive to the electoral process,” the statement added.
INEC confirms receipt of letter: INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Festus Okoye, said the commission has received the letter. “The commission has received the letter from the AGF. The commission is studying the letter and the accompanying attachments. The commission will make its position known as soon as possible,” he said.
PDP response: The national chairman of the main opposition party, PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said in a presser that “The AGF letter is part of APC’s design to arm-twist INEC and the judiciary to take illegal action in their favour. What the AGF is seeking is not backed by law. The AGF is an interested party in this matter and has no moral right to advise INEC.”
Bottom Line: The AGF is being a partisan hack here. The laws are clear about the powers of INEC. According to Section 158(1) of the constitution, “INEC shall not be subject to the direction or control of any authority or person.” INEC has powers to make its own rules and regulate its procedures without the approval or control of the president. Malami must know this law, but as an openly partisan AGF who attends political gatherings and was previously a governorship aspirant, he appears more interested in favoring his party than defending the constitution.