The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the Nigerian constitution and declare a state of emergency across the country.
Peoples Gazette reports that in a secret memo, Malami has already written lengthy legal advice to President Buhari, urging him to move swiftly to suspend the fundamental rights of all Nigerians as guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution.
In the eight-page secret memo dated May 4, 2021, Mr Malami told Mr Buhari that insecurity across Nigeria has 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 tranquillity.
“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 AGF said.
Malami said that the President should issue instruments of emergency and publish them in the federal gazette, adding that the Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila would be informed about the decision ahead of implementation.
“To douse probable legal tension, it is important for the proclamation instrument of the statement of emergency to expressly provide for the suspension of Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution and its attendant enforcement rules,” Malami wrote.
“The suspension of rights pertaining to matters of national security will then give legal backing for the proclamation of the statement of emergency to be operational and effective without litigious or judicial distractions.”
In the early pages of the document, Malami cited widespread acts of insecurity and blamed prominent separatist agitators like Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu for fueling the protracted crisis that has enveloped the country and aggravated the social and economic conditions of Nigerians.
The memo was endorsed to the President by the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, a retired Major-General, and administration officials are divided on how to proceed with the advice.
“Clearly, different factions of our government have different positions on this alarming proposal,” a presidency official told The Gazette.
“But everyone agrees that the AGF holds powerful sway over the president and it would be a miracle if the Constitution is not suspended as he recommended.”
Another official also within the presidency, who confirmed hearing about the memo but had not seen it, said Buhari might have little resistance considering the potency of Malami’s argument.
“The President is just saying they should act in the best interest of the country. Even as the president, he seemed to have given up on his own ability to get the AGF to back down,” the official said.
But the prevailing state of security in Nigeria can be addressed under the existing constitutional framework, legal analyst Abdul Mahmud told The Gazette on Wednesday evening.
“The AGF’s position is nonsensical,” Mr Mahmud said. “They have their own sinister agenda and are trying to come under suspension of the Constitution to actualise it.”
Mr Mahmud said he was incensed by Mr Malami’s suggestion to the president, saying it was unbefitting of his position as attorney-general
“If the attorney-general who ought to be the chief protector of our Constitution is suggesting the need to suspend Chapter IV of the Constitution, then it is clearly an attempt to plunge the country into further crisis,” he said.
“There’s no part of the Constitution, including Section 305, that contemplated the suspension of Chapter IV, which essentially is the suspension of the Constitution itself,” the legal expert said.
KanyiDaily recalls that Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams had called on the Federal Government to use traditional methods to tackle the worsening insecurity in the country.