FACT CHECK: Is Malami’s involvement in partisan politics unconstitutional?
COMPLAINT: Some social media users are chastising the public involvement of the Federation’s Justice Minister and Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, in All Progressive Congress (APC) affairs. They say it’s unconstitutional.
Abubakar Malami is Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, a political appointment under the prerogative of the President. Malami is one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s longest-serving ministers; he was appointed in 2015.
Malami is a card-carrying member of the ruling party and he has been actively involved in party affairs. Last year he revalidated his APC membership of Filin Mariya Polling Unit, Nasarawa1, Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State Local Government.
Last month, Malami was named in the 35-man Technical Committee on the monitoring and supervision of the APC convention, which was held on March 26, 2022. Other ministers such as Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education; and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiyya Farouq, were also part of the committee.
Meanwhile, social media commentators are positing that the attorney general’s stance should be as politically neutral as possible.
Reacting to a malami’s photo in an outfit with an APC print, a tweep, @Olufemi_Ak wrote: “The constitution declares the neutrality of this civil service position, the constitution does not prevent anyone from having a favorite, which is expected, c is to remain silent and neutral until you leave the seat. “Unfortunately, the judicial system is publicly violated and bastardized.”
Below are other reactions to the image:
“What is annoying is that some people will still open their mouths waaa and say that this senior APC government is doing Nigerians good. Just watch a whole AGF” – @solubobo
“Buhari has established a VERY BAD PRECEDENCE in all aspects of governance as it relates to Nigeria. At present, there is no constitution in force in Nigeria”. – @ighostasha
“Constitution in the face of anarchy…I mean, I don’t expect more from an administration that openly disobeyed court orders…even with petty tyrant prof. of Law as Vice President” – @gemiro
“These guys ruined the so-called democracy we had. Total mess!” – @ Dann_10
Ripples Nigeria found that the position of Minister of Justice is a political appointment and the occupier is not legally prohibited from engaging in partisan politics.
A human rights lawyer, Festus Ogun, criticized Malami’s involvement in partisan politics on moral grounds, but argued that the minister had broken no laws. “It might be morally wrong but certainly not unconstitutional,” he told Ripples Nigeria.
Requests the separation of the functions of Minister of Justice from those of the AGF
Meanwhile, there have been calls for the office of the Attorney General to be separated from that of the Minister of Justice. Proponents of this call recognize that the justice minister’s position is political, but want the attorney general’s office to be neutral.
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“The office of the Minister of Justice is a political office. Ordinarily, the Attorney General should not be an ordinary politician. This supports our advocacy for the separation of the office of the Attorney General from that of the Minister of Justice,” Mr. Ogun continued.
A former justice and AGF minister, Mohammed Adoke, shared the same view. He asked that the bureau be split in two.
In his book, “Burden of Service: Reminiscences of Nigeria’s Former Attorney-General”, Mr. Adoke wrote: “It is because when he acts as Attorney-General, he is answerable to no one else than his conscience and the interest of justice, but while in his capacity as a minister, he must take the directives of the president and make the biddings of the president.
Malami’s involvement in partisan politics may be morally questionable, but there is no provision in any Nigerian law prohibiting such actions. It is therefore not unconstitutional.
By: Oluwatobi Odeyinka
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