A 20-man group of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) under the aegis of the Justice Reform Project (JRP) has urged Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN) not to pick and choose which court orders to obey.
They said disobeying some orders purportedly in “public interest” violates the constitution.
The SANs said Malami’s powers are circumscribed by the constitution, and he cannot depart from it under any guise.
In a statement by its convener Charles Adeyemi Candide-Johnson (SAN), JRP urged Malami to ensure that the Buhari administration makes the obedience of court orders its watchword.
The group said it felt compelled to call out Malami in view of his comments during his Senate screening.
JRP recalled that Malami’s response to a question as to why the government flouts some court orders.
The AGF said they were disobeyed in public interest, adding that it was his duty to protect the overall rights of Nigerians which he claims overrides the need to respect individual liberties.
JRP said: “Mr Malami is wrong. It is not the right or power of the Attorney-General to determine legal rights and to pick and choose which he will respect or not. To assert such a right or power threatens the very constitution and the rule of law.
“If an individual or a group breaks the law or threatens national security or public order, it is the duty of the Attorney-General to build a compelling case and then present it to the constitutional adjudicator.
“This official cannot be accuser, prosecutor and then judge at the same time.
“If any single minister or group of ministers can secretly determine what is in the public interest and enforce such assumed public interest by defying due and legal process, then every single Nigerian is at risk of arbitrary power.
“If any minister can determine that he can abuse or discard court process, even after himself invoking the power of the courts, then he can abort every other constitutional guarantee in turn.
“JRP, therefore, considers it expedient to state that no matter the apparent flaws in our judicial system, it remains the bastion of our democracy that all court orders must be respected by every Nigerian citizen.”
The SANs emphasised that no person or authority is superior to the constitution and therefore Malami should not undermine the sanctity of court orders.