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National interest overrides private interest, says Malami

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Former Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN)


Former Justice Minister Explains Disobedience Of Court Orders At Ministerial Screening
A former minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, has given a clue on why some citizens can be detained against court orders granting them bail.

This is just as the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) has accused the Nigerian Police of detaining its “Free Zakzaky” protesters, including female and the under-aged with life-threatening injuries since Monday, July 22, denying them access to family members, food and medication.

According to IMN spokesman, Abdullahi Muhammad Musa, three of its members died in Police detention centre due to lack of medical attention, saying protesters who were supposed to have been taken to court in less than 24 hours have spent a week in Police detention.

Malami, who stated this while being quizzed at the Senate chamber, yesterday, as a ministerial nominee, said Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), made provisions for public interest to override private interest.

“I concede, as argued by the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP 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.

“However, where such rights conflicts with public interest, the latter overrides the former.The office of the AGF has exclusive responsibility of upholding the public interest above personal interest of anybody,” he said.He explained further by citing the ruling of Supreme Court on Federal Government verses Asari Dokubo, where, on the grounds of public interest, the court refused him bail.

Malami explained to the lawmakers that the 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, adding: “Absence of collaboration and cooperation between the legislature and the executive accounted for the high rate of decline of assent to Bills by the Presidency from the 8th Assembly.

“For such scenario not to repeat itself during the current 9th National Assembly, the culture of collaboration between the two arms has to be put in place. That culture 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 communities perceived by the Executive to have been compromised through provisions of the Bill.”

Earlier before the question and answer session, he reeled out some of the achievements recorded during his tenure, saying through the enforcement of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), 23,000 ghost workers were weeded out of the system, 63 terrorism cases prosecuted and 59 convictions secured.

He added that a total of 12, 412 criminal cases were tried during the time and N59.163billion recovered from some of the prosecuted looters, assuring that if given the opportunity to serve in similar capacity after his confirmation, he would operate within the context of integration, in line with Section 15 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Musa, in a statement, added: “The public will recall that on Monday, July 22, the Police attacked “Free Zakzaky” protesters at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, leading to loss of lives of many people. Moreover, during and after the protest, the Police arrested over 50 people including “Free Zakzaky” protesters and passerby individuals.

“Some of the protesters who were injured by the Police returned to their families with injuries, their respective families took them to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada for treatment, but Police attacked the hospital and arrested the injured people while receiving treatment at the hospital and detained them without medical treatment.”

Musa further stated that out of the people arrested, over 20 sustained serious injuries and were being held at the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) detention centre with life-threatening injuries and without medical attention.

“As a result of lack of access to medical attention, Muhammad Baqir, Muhammad Jaafar and Hassan Askari, who were arrested at the hospital died on Wednesday, July 24, in the SARS detention centre.

“On the same day, the Police arrested another Free Zakzaky protester at Wuse Market, Abuja, tortured him and then dropped him by road-side close to the Wuse Market. “The families of the protesters made several attempts to provide medical treatment to them, but the Police rejected the request. Obviously, the rights of the protesters have been violated and the lives of those that are still alive in SARS are in danger. “We are calling for the intervention of human rights and civil society organisations to this inhuman attitude of the Police,” the statement read.He also refuted reports of secret negotiations between the Shi’ites and federal government.


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