From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami, has denied media reports to the effect he has forwarded a secret memo directing President Muhamamdu Buhari to suspend Chapter IV of the constitution which guarantees the fundamental rights of all Nigerians.
Malami, who described the report as ‘false and fictitious’, has urged the public to disregard what he called ‘fabrications of anti-constitutional democratic stability in Nigeria.’
An online media platform, (Peoples Gazatte), has reported that President Buhari was in the process of declaring a state of emergency across the country based on a secret memo and official accounts, as the administration scrambles to contain the acute insecurity nationwide.
It alleged that the Attorney General has already written a lengthy legal advice to the Nigerian President, urging him to move swiftly to suspend the fundamental rights of all Nigerians as guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution.
‘In the eight-page secret memo dated May 4, 2021, Mr Malami told Mr Buhari that insecurity across Nigeria has 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 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,’ the media report had said.
But the AGF, through his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Gwandu, dismissed the report as false and fictitious.
Gwandu, responding to a Daily Sun inquiry into the matter, stated:
‘The attention of the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has been drawn to a false and fictitious report alleging that there was a secret memo emanating from the Office to the Presidency.
‘The general public are hereby asked to disregard the media reports as fabrications of anti-constitutional democratic stability in Nigeria.
‘Malami remains 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 Government does not operate in secrecy as it is not a clandestine operation. Hence, Malami discharges his constitutionally recognized mandates in compliance with principles of transparency, openness and accountability.’
Peoples Gazatte has reported that ‘Mr Malami said the President should issue instruments of emergency and publish them in the federal gazette. Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila will be informed about the decision ahead of implementation.
‘To douse probable legal tension, it is important for the proclamation instrument of the statement of emergency to expressly provide for the suspension of Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution and its attendant enforcement rules,’ Mr Malami wrote, according to the media report. ‘The suspension of rights pertaining to matters of national security will then give legal backing for the proclamation of the statement of emergency to be operational and effective without litigious or judicial distractions.’
It continued: ‘In the early pages of the document, Mr Malami cited widespread acts of insecurity and blamed prominent separatist agitators like Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu for fueling the protracted crisis that has enveloped the country and aggravated the social and economic conditions of Nigerians.
‘The memo was endorsed to the president by National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno and administration officials are divided on how to proceed with the advice.’