By: Joy Odor/Abuja
Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN has gave reasons for the continued detention of former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and the leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, popularly known as Shi’ite, Sheikh Ibrahim El- Zakzaky.
Fielding questions from senators when he appeared before the Senate for screening as one of the ministerial nominees of President Muhammadu Buhari, the senior advocate explained that the duo ate still being kept in public interest .
In an attempt to justify his stance on the controversial issue, Malami, said Section 174 of the 1999 constitution (as amended), made provisions for public interest to take preference over private interest.
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South), had asked Malami why he could not protect the rights of some citizens (apparently referring to (Dasuki and El-Zakzaky) as the Attorney General of the Federation in line with the Constitution despite court injunctions that have set them free.
He said: “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, supposed to protect the rights of any citizen from being violated even by the state , but where such rights conflicts with public interest, the latter overrides the former.
“Office of the AGF has exclusive responsibility of upholding the public interest above personal interest of anybody”.
The former minister further explained by citing the ruling of Supreme Court on Federal Government vs Asari Dokubo where on the grounds of public interest, the court refused him bail.
While Dasuki has been in perpetual detention at the instance of the federal government since December 2015 on alleged corrupt practices, El-Zakzaky has also been in similar position along with his wife since December of the same year on alleged treasonable offences.
Malami explained to the lawmakers that culture of deep rooted collaboration between the Executive and the National Assembly must be cultivated for bills passed by the latter to enjoy the assent of the former.
He said: “Absence of collaboration and cooperation between the legislature and the executive , accounted for high rate of bills rejection by the Presidency from the last Assembly.
“For such scenario not to repeat itself during the current 9th National Assembly , culture of deep-rooted collaboration between the two arms, has to be put in place.
“The culture of collaboration between the two arms 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 community perceived by the executive to have been compromised through provisions of the bills”.
Earlier before the question and answer session, rolled out some of the achievements he felt the ministry recorded under him.
According to him, through the enforcement of the Treasury Single Account, TSA, were weeded out of the system, 63 terrorism cases were prosecuted and 59 convictions gotten.
The former Attorney General added that a total of 12, 412 criminal cases were tried during the time and N59.163billion were recovered from some of the prosecuted looters.
He stated that if given the opportunity to serve in similar capacity after his confirmation by the Senate, he would operate within the context of integration in line with section 15 of the 1999 constitution.