Mr. Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, has dismissed a report stating that he wrote a secret note to President Muhammadu Buhari encouraging him to suspend the 1999 Constitution and establish martial law in the country as untrue and fraudulent.
After a government suspends civil rule, martial law is temporarily imposed to allow the military to take over routine civilian responsibilities.
In times of war, insurrection, or natural calamity, it is commonly invoked.
When martial rule is declared, the military commander in charge of the territory has unrestricted ability to enact and enforce laws as circumstances dictate.
On Wednesday, an online news site claimed to have gotten an exclusive copy of a confidential letter containing a legal counsel Malami wrote to President Buhari, requesting him to immediately stop the functioning of Chapter IV of the Constitution, which guaranteed all Nigerian citizens’ fundamental rights.
According to the online newspaper, Malami told President Buhari in an eight-page secret memo dated May 4 that insecurity in the country had reached a level that could no longer be controlled by existing democratic techniques, insisting that only a state of emergency declared by the President could restore peace to the country.
“The essence of the declaration is to allow for the suspension of constitutional and legal bureaucratic bottlenecks pertaining to matters of National Security, with particular regard to fundamental rights guaranteed under Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution and processes and procedures relating to procurements, among others,” it quoted Malami as saying in the memo.
Malami was also accused of naming renowned separatist agitators like Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu as persons fueling insurgency in sections of the country, and arguing that the best way to deal with them was to impose martial law in the country, according to the online tabloid.
However, the AGF denied delivering such legal advice to President Buhari in a statement written by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Gwandu.
Malami stated that he is still a democrat who believes in the rule of law, democratic principles, and constitutional order.
He added it was absurd to believe that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice would fall to the level of the online media outlet’s claims.
Malami’s statement, read: “The attention of the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami,SAN has been drawn to a false and fictitious report alleging that there was a secret memo emanating from the Office to the Presidency.
“General publics are hereby asked to disregard the media report as fabrications of anti-constitutional democratic stability in Nigeria.
“Malami remains a true democrat who believes in rules of law and tenant of democracy and Constitutional order.
“The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is a constitutionally recognised 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 recognized mandates in compliance with principles of transparency, openness and accountability”.