In a strong response, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the justification provided by former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on why he and the President Buhari administration disobeyed valid court orders.
Malami, who was recently renominated by President Muhammadu Buhari for a ministerial position, said at his senate screening that:
- “…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.”
The NBA’s response through its president, Paul Usoro, strongly pushed back against Malami’s comments:
- “…our courts always act in the public interest. If he is not satisfied with orders of courts, the proper thing to do is to go on appeal and not to resort to self-help.”
Flashback: In August 2018, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), wrote a letter to then Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), asking him to stop the flagrant disobedience of court orders which has become constant in the President Buhari administration.
Why it matters: Ordinarily, Malami’s comments at his screening should be disqualifying. A chief law officer who professes that he does not believe the judiciary is acting in the interest of the public and so would unilaterally decide what rulings to obey, is clearly acting against the constitution and the rule of law. Unfortunately, the senate which should defend the constitution chose instead to confirm Malami.
Still to come: The FG’s appetite for disobeying court orders may be tested again on Monday when a High Court sitting in Kaduna rules on whether to let Sheikh Ibrahimm El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zinat, get bail in order to receive medical treatment.