Where rights of any citizen conflict with public interest, the latter overrides
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation , Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, yesterday justified the continued detention of the leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria ( IMN) , Ibrahim El- Zakyzaky and former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd), saying their incarceration was in public interest .
Malami who made this disclosure while being screened by the Senate as the 25th ministerial nominee, stated that section 174 of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria( as amended), made provisions for public interest to take preference over private interest .
“I concede as argued by the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South ), that a Minister of Justice and Attorney General as stipulated by sections 36, 37 and 39 of the constitution, is supposed to protect the rights of any citizen from being violated even by the state , but where such rights conflict with public interest , the latter overrides the former. Office of the AGF has exclusive responsibility of upholding the public interest above personal interest of anybody”, he said .
Malami backed his submission by citing the ruling of Supreme court in the case between the Federal Government and Asari Dokubo where on the grounds of public interest, the court refused the latter bail.
While Dasuki has been in perpetual detention at the instance of the Federal Government since December 2015 on alleged corrupt practices, El- Zakyzaky has also been incarcerated along with his wife about the same time on alleged treasonable felony charges .
The nominee told the Senators that culture of deep rooted collaboration between the Executive and the legislature must be cultivated for bills passed by the latter to enjoy the assent of the former.
He said: “Absence of collaboration and cooperation between the legislature and the executive, accounted for the high rate of bills rejection by the Presidency from the last Assembly.
“For such scenario not to repeat itself during the current 9th National Assembly, culture of deep rooted collaboration between the two arms, has to be put in place .The culture of collaboration between the two arms has to be demonstrated right from the stage of conception or formulation of a bill , up to the level of public hearing and eventual passage .
“For example, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), was fundamentally rejected by the executive for lack of this required collaboration especially as regards the interest of host community perceived by the executive to have been compromised through provisions of the bills “.
Malami had earlier in a brief remarks reeled out some achievements he recorded when he held sway at the Justice ministry.
According to him, through the enforcement of the Treasury Single Account ( TSA), 23,000 ghost workers were weeded out of the system while 63 terrorism cases were prosecuted and 59 convictions gotten.
He addded that a total of 12,412 criminal cases were tried during the time and N59.163billion were recovered from some of the prosecuted looters.
His words: “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”.
Speaking on the nation’s judicial system, the former Minister emphasised that “we are making progress on interfacing on effective delivery and seen in the enhancement of the budget of the judiciary. It was never the case for the state judiciary to enjoy some level of autonomy they now enjoy
On what he will want to be remembered for, Malami declared “I want to be remembered as one who intensify the fight against corruption and make our system of governance effective and efficient.
He added that if given the opportunity to serve in similar capacity, he would operate within the context of integration in line with section 15 of the 1999 constitution.