By Evelyn Okakwu
After defending the prolonged detention of former National Security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, on Thursday backtracked, distancing himself from the action.
Mr Malami denied defending the decision of the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to continue detaining the former NSA despite court rulings ordering his release.
Mr Malami spoke during the hearing of a case brought against him by a lawyer, JohnMary Jideobi at the Abuja Division of the federal high court.
In an affidavit deposed by a staff of the justice ministry, Ballah Ali, on behalf of the AGF in response to Mr Jideobi’s suit, Mr Malami claimed he had never defended the failure of government to comply with court orders for the release of Mr Dasuki
“The defendant did not at any time defend the alleged refusal of the federal government to obey six different court orders directing it to release Colonel Sambo Dasuki,” he said.
“The defendant did not at any time render any legal advice to the president or federal government or any of its agencies in contravention of the 1999 constitution (as amended) or any other law in force,” the AGF said in his response to the suit.
The lawyer had asked the court to declare Mr Malami’s support of the former NSA’s detention as an outright violation of his office as a Minister of Justice and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
The applicant asked the court to order the sack of Mr Malami as minister of justice and have him barred from further practising the legal profession, through the Legal Practitioner’s Disciplinary Committee.
Citing a publication of an interview conducted with the Voice of America and published by PREMIUM TIMES on July 19, Mr Jideobi said the submissions of Mr Malami regarding Mr Dasuki’s detention as exposed in the said interview amounted to an embarrassment of his office as justice minister and a violation of constitutional provisions.
According to the AGF, while speaking in the July 19 interview, “Mr Dasuki’s right to freedom cannot be compared to the rights of many Nigerians, who suffered from the effects of fraudulent activities allegedly perpetrated through Mr Dasuki’s office as NSA.”
“So you have to look at it from this perspective. If the issue about an individual coincides with that which affects the people of a nation and you are now saying the government did not obey a court order that infringes on a single person’s rights. Remember we are talking about a person who was instrumental to the deaths of over one hundred thousand people. Are you saying that the rights of one person is more important than that of 100,000 who lost their lives?
“Obeying the court is not the issue per say. Are we going to take the issue of an individual more important than that of the people? The government’s main responsibility is for and about the people. The essence of governance is to better the lives of its people. So you have to weigh it based on that; the rights of an individual or the rights of the people,” Mr Malami said in response to questions seeking his view about Mr Malami’s continued detention.
But in his latest reaction to Mr Jideobi’s suit, Mr Malami persisted in his defence of Mr Dasuki’s detention.
The AGF cited a Supreme Court decision in March which exonerated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from culpability in Mr Dasuki’s detention, describing the court’s decision as proof that Mr Dasuki’s detention is not against an order of court.
“Contrary to the dispositions of the plaintiff, the bails earlier granted to Colonel Sambo Dasuki was complied with. On March 2, 2018 the Supreme Court while delivering judgement in a suit brought against it by Dasuki held that the bail granted him in respect of the criminal matter brought against him have been obeyed, haven been implemented by the controller of prisons in December, 29 2015.
“Colonel Sambo Dasuki admitted that he was been detained by the SSS. The defendant did not arrest Colonel Sambo Dasuki.
“The defendant has not misconducted himself in his official capacity as AGF and in his capacity as Senior Advocate to warrant a report being made against him to the LPPC,” the AGF said.
Mr Malami, then asked the court to strike out the application.
The case was adjourned to January 16.