The Federal Attorney General, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN, has yet again thrown another indication that he upholds tyranny and impunity over and above the rule of law and justice when he claimed that “public interest” as determined by him must be considered before obeying court orders.
He made this dangerous assertions in an interview with a magazine published monthly as revealed by Premium Times recently.
When asked why the Federal Government had refused to release the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, he claimed t”he overall interest of the public must be considered before obeying court orders.”
The Minister of justice, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, clearly showed his preference of impunity and dangerous misuse of power over natural justice, rule of law and the principles of the separation of powers when he said “public interest,” that is determined by a party to a case and not even presented before a law court, must be considered before obeying a duly delivered court orders.
It would be recalled that in the case Sheikh Zakzaky took to court seeking the enforcement of his fundamental rights, the government told the court that he has not committed any crime, and that he was not “in detention” kind of thing, but in “protective custody” being well taken care of by the government having spent millions for his welfare.
Chief Justice of Nigeria had recently told President Buhari to learn to obey court orders.
This was the type of statements that a Human rights activist and lawyer, Abbas referred to as “voodoo system” recently in a television program, which he said the Buhari government has been practicing instead of the rule of law.
Unfortunately, this has come to characterize the government of Muhammadu Buhari since its inception. It will be recalled too that another minister in the government, Mr. Lai Mohammed had similarly said the courts don’t have the full picture, but only the government does, hence they would be selective in the orders the government would obey.
These ministers, who incidentally are both lawyers, seem to forget that government sits on a tripod of executives, legislature and judiciary in a democracy. One party can’t have the exclusive “full picture” with which to intimidate and disobey the others. That is what the principle of separation of powers is all about.
Court judgements are meant to be obeyed by all parties. Should one party, even if it is AGF or government have any information or a “fuller picture” or have some concerns of so-called “public interest,” that party must first present such to the courts to adjudicate not to wait to disobey the judgements when given.
There is no room in a democracy for the government to hide under the cover of “public interest” to disobey the constitutional provisions of freedoms including of fair hearing and equality before the law.