The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has denied advising President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the Nigerian constitution to be able to tackle the escalating insecurity in the country more effectively.
The Peoples Gazette reported on Wednesday that Mr Malami had written a legal advice to Mr Buhari to consider declaring nationwide state of emergency and suspend the constitution to widen the government’s latitude in dealing with the worsening security situation in the country without any legal impediment.
According to the newspaper, Mr Malami specifically urged the president to suspend the fundamental rights of all Nigerians as guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution.
It said Mr Malami, in the eight-page “secret memo” dated May 4, 2021, told Mr Buhari that insecurity across Nigeria had 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 tranquility.
“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 reported quoted Mr Malami as writing in part.
Mr Malami, according to the report, said the president should issue instruments of emergency and publish them in the federal gazette.
But denying the report late Tuesday, Mr Malami, through a statement issued by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, urged the members of the public to “disregard the media report as fabrications of anti-constitutional democratic stability in Nigeria.”
Mr Malami described himself as “a true democrat who believes in rules of law and tenant of democracy and constitutional order.”
He added, “The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is a constitutionally recognized 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 recognised mandates in compliance with principles of transparency, openness and accountability.”
Nigeria has the history of suspension of the constitution only during the many years of military dictatorship when the country was governed by decree.