By CHIDI OBINECHE
ON his assumption of office as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, AGF last year, Abubakar Malami, SAN made clear his broad objectives and mission in government. He said, “As the Chief Law Officer of the nation, I am prepared to carry out my duties with all the enablement God has given me. The fight against corruption must be fought legally, without fear or favour, affection or ill- will, and in line with international best practices”.
“My promise is to revolutionize the critical sector in the ministry within the shortest possible time. We therefore cannot give excuses for failure”.
Seven months down the line, the minister has been very visible, attracting flaks and encomiums from critical members of the public. Malami, apart from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is seen by many as the face of the anti –corruption fight of the present regime. He, however scored the bull’s eye when he recently engaged the senate committee on Judiciary, Human rights and Legal matters in a stand- off. He persistently declined to honour their invitation to throw more light on the forgery suit against the senate president Bukola Saraki, and his deputy Ike Ekweremadu. On June 21, he was summoned to “explain and justify with evidence, the basis for the charges against messrs Saraki and Ekweremadu.” Having defied the summons order repeatedly, an infuriated senate, last week threatened to arrest him. But he did not buckle under easily. When he finally appeared before the committee last wednesday, he left with his head held high. At the hearing, the chairman of the committee, David Umaru , and other members asked him if he acted in the public interest and without abuse of his office. A member of the committee, Joshua Lidani, said there was an issue of conflict of interest as Mr Malami was the lawyer representing senators who were aggrieved with Saraki’s election. Those senators, according to him filed the complaint accusing Saraki and his deputy of falsifying the Senate Rules. Malami stoutly denied bias, and said the case predated his appointment as minister, and that he was duty bound to continue with the case. “ I only inherited a concluded investigative report” , said Malami. Quoting the senate order, the Minister hurled the ball back to them, reminding them that a matter in court should not be entertained by the legislative body. He further averred that the alteration of Senate Rules, 2015 did not conform to valid procedures, insisting that an offence was committed in the process. In the police report, the Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, found that the Senate Rules used to inaugurate the senate did follow the procedures stipulated in the section 110 Rules, “the extant Standing Rules”. Without direct reference to the CIID report, Malami told the senators the “amendment” of the 2015 Senate order did not follow the legally valid procedure. He further said that “ a Standing Rule that has not been deliberated and voted on by the senate, cannot be the Standing Rule” The committee, it was learnt expected apology from the Minister for spurning the senate’s summons , but he refused to apologize.
Born on April 17, 1967 in Birnin Kebbi, he attended the Nassarawa primary school between 1973 – 1979, College of Arts and Arabic studies (1979-1984), College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Sokoto, Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto( 1987 – 1991) Nigeria Law School, Lagos(1992), and the University of Maiduguri(MPA) (1994). He was the National Legal Adviser of the defunct CPC, and was the resource person, Manifestoe Drafting Sub- Committee of the Inter party merger committees of the Congress for Progressive Change(,CPC,) Action Congress of Nigeria,( ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party,(ANPP,) All Progressives Grand Alliance,(APGA,) Democratic Peoples Party,(DPP) towards the formation of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
He was conferred with the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN in 2008.