BY EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO
The circus shows by political appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari have indeed intensified.
We are now witnessing a vicious circle of political comedies packaged as governance methodology. Political actors have never playing demi GOD the way they now do under a dispensation that looks like organised disorder. No wonder Professor Wole Soyinka philosophically remarked that in Nigeria of these moments, no body is in charge. The groundswell of confusion, incompetence, inertia and crass opportunism that have enveloped the public space seems to have polluted both the sacred and the profane.
And for the youngsters who have found themselves as students of political science and law, they are surely going through trying times because the crass incompetence of too many of the present day public office holders has become embarrassing.
The above summarises the comedy that is playing itself out from the office of the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mr. Abubakar Malami, a senior Advocate of Nigeria. It has become increasingly difficult for any one to correctly say if the Attorney Generally of the Federation in the last five years, is indeed behaving and speaking in such ways that edify and define his statutory mandate, powers and functions or if he has delved into the arena of turning himself into the unsuitable role of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Two examples will suffice. The Attorney General of the Federation has not discharged his core prosecutorial functions so as to put mass killers, armed Fulani herdsmen and terrorists to the docks to undergo qualitative prosecutions and to enable the court system reach a determination of guilt or otherwise.
In the last five years, lawlessness and impunity have grown both wings and legs and are on rampage in the country in such a way that certain class of persons who should be behind bars for engineering violent mass killings are roaming about freely. Too many deaths have been caused by armed non state actors and even armed security forces but the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami is more interested in playing politics of gimmicks and divide and rule tendencies than unify the Country behind the common cause of upholding the sanctity of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami should be ashamed of himself that right under his nose, terrorists and armed Fulani herdsmen arrested are left to escape justice as if the Country is a society with no laws.
It is precisely for the willful incompetence, failure or incapacity of the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to bring the mass killers to justice, that the World has started drawing conclusions that the Federal and state governments in Nigeria tolerate impunity and killings of certain categories of the citizenry. The United Nations and most advanced Societies are worried that Nigeria has a set of political office holders who tolerate and indeed activate acts of impunity and lawlessness.
The United States has shed more light on why it added Nigeria to the religious freedom blacklist, attributing it to the federal government’s alleged violations of religious freedom.
The US, despite the federal government’s protestation of innocence, accused Nigeria of widening terrorism with little or no government response.
But the US Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, Samuel Brownback, said on Tuesday night that Nigeria has been “tolerating egregious acts taking place in that nation.”
Brownback, at a press conference, said the US is seeing “a lot of religious-tinged violence taking place.”
The US, on Monday, had designated Nigeria, China, Burma, Eritrea, Iran, the DPRK, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as countries of ‘particular interest’ for violating religious freedom.
The US Department of States, in a statement by the Secretary of State, Mr. Michael Pompeo, had described religious freedom as an inalienable right, and the bedrock upon which free societies are built and flourish.
Also, the US had earlier expressed concerns over the high rate of religious intolerance in various parts of Nigeria following acts often perpetrated by state actors.
But the mass media in Nigeria reported that the federal government repudiated the allegation in its reaction on Tuesday and expressed its readiness to open talks with the United States for the delisting of Nigeria from the religious freedom blacklist.
It also denied accusations by the US that it is suppressing religious freedom in Nigeria.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Ferdinand Nwonye, had said the engagement would afford Nigeria not only the opportunity to demand the country’s removal from the blacklist but to also express its displeasure at Nigeria’s inclusion on the list
“The secretary and really the world has great concern about what’s taking place in Nigeria at this time, and a number of terrorist groups are organising and pushing into the country,” Brownback said during the briefing which was quoted by a respected online portal in Nigeria.
His words: “We’re seeing a lot of religious-tinged violence taking place in that country and indeed in West Africa. It’s an area of growing concern about what’s happening, in particular, the tension that’s taking place there between religious groups. And it’s often the religious affiliation is used to try to recruit and inspire violent acts.”
The ambassador added that a major concern for the US regarding Nigeria is “the lack of adequate government response in Nigeria.”
“You’ve got expanded terrorist activities, you’ve got a lot of it associated around religious affiliations, and the government’s response has been minimal to not happening at all.
“A number of cases – there have not been criminal cases brought forward by the government. The terrorism continues to happen and grow, in some places unabated,” he added.
So what exactly is an Attorney General of the Federation of Nigeria appointed to do? Is he appointed to antagonize the two other arms of government by pretending to be the chief interpreter of the Constitution?
Charles Uwensuyi Edosomwan, a respected lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria has done justice to our question aforementioned when he presented an excellently written paper on the Roles of the AGF.
The office of the Attorney-General in Nigeria is constitutionally provided for, argues the Senior Lawyer aforementioned. He, the AGF, is the chief law officer of the Federation or of a state as the case may be. He also performs some political roles. Albeit the Constitution of FRN 1999 makes copious provisions regarding the powers of the Attorney- General, unfortunately, as we shall soon see, the extent of such powers has been a subject of much polemics, resulting in an avalanche of judicial authorities. However, the decisions do not appear to have finally laid the matter to rest. In the text of this paper, I shall be examining the constitutional provisions regarding the office of the Attorney –General, the extent of such also examine the historical development of the office of the Attorney General as well as some English decisions on the subject, with a view to ascertaining the nature of the arguments proffered and providing solutions to the multifarious issues raised.
Edomsomwan submitted too that the constitution of the Federation Republic of Nigeria 1999 (hereinafter called the 1999 constitution) makes provisions for the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and of the states. Provision is also made in the same constitution for qualification of holders of that office or those who perform its duty.
The 1999 Constitution in S174 (I )spells out the power General of the Federation. Ditto for the State.
He stated that from these constitutional provisions, Attorney-General is given a Wide range of powers with regards prosecutions.
Hear him: “The Federal AG Can institute and undertake criminal proceedings or take over and continue or discontinue same before any court Nigeria (other than a court Martial) in respect of any federal offence. Similar provision made regarding powers of the State Attorney-General with respect to state offences. By subsection 2; the Attorney-General may exercise these power either personally or through any officer of his department The issue has arisen from the above provisions whether the Attorney General of a State can exercise the powers of instituting, undertaking taking over and continuing or discontinuing with respect to federal offences? The position of the law is that the State Attorney-General cannot prosecute any for a federal offence without the express permission of the Attorney General the Federation.”
As we said earlier, the present day Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami is not interested in effective prosecute of certain categories of offenders such as mass killers and terrorists but is usually quick to jump into the Political arena to give certain archaic and regressive interpretation of the law in his blind attempt to shield President Muhammadu Buhari from becoming transparent and accountable to the people of Nigeria and especially to give clarifications on why the dominant corruption in the defence sector of Nigeria can not be investigated by the National Assembly in line with section 88/89. Abubakar Malami argued that the parliament which even has powers to impeach the President can not invite him even if issues of corruption are threatening to wipe out Nigeria as it were. The Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami is being clever by half by asserting that the President Muhammadu Buhari couldn’t be forced to appear before Parliament even if due to PERVASSIVE CORRUPTION the armed non state actors and terrorists are about destroying Tue Federal Republic of Nigeria. So is Abubakar Malami the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Supreme Court that has the last words on the operational imports of constitutional provisions?
Interestingly, This is what the United Kingdom’s branch of Transparency International said on the vexed issue of defence corruption & legislatures.
Parliaments and legislatures have an important role in preventing corruption in defence and security. This sector tends to be closed and secretive. As a central source of representation and legitimacy in government, parliaments and legislatures can hold governments and defence establishments to account and increase transparency. As the legislative body, they may pass laws that stop corruption from occurring, and scrutinise the effectiveness of a government’s attempts to enforce this legislation.
They then asked our same kind of question about why Does Defence corruption MATTER?
In their words, Corruption in the defence sector infringes upon the integrity of the state and undermines the authority of its institutions. It also leads to the loss of public trust and creates insecurity among citizens. Corruption in defence is dangerous and costly. It negatively impacts society and governments, and poses a threat to global security.
Governments exist to serve their people, and defence and security establishments to protect them. When defence and security establishments are corrupt, the integrity of the government is undermined as those with entrusted power abuse it for personal gain.
Corrupt defence and security establishments likewise fail to fulfil their primary duty, as they may become a threat to the individuals they are supposed to protect. The military themselves also suffer as a result of corruption. Personnel are put at risk by unnecessary or poor quality defence equipment when purchases are made according to how much individuals stand to personally gain, rather than to develop the defence capabilities that a country genuinely needs.
They argued too that Corruption involves the theft of public money. As defence and security tends to occupy a large portion of the national budget, it may attract those interested in profiteering improperly. Government money lost through defence and security corruption means less money to spend on health, education, infrastructure, and development.
Defence corruption also matters for world security. Arms races, many times kick- started by individual greed, can potentially destabilise delicate regional and international balances. Corruption may act as a disincentive to ending conflict, since it enables people to profit from the instability of war.
Corruption in the defence and security sector harms citizens, governments and defence establishments. It also has the potential to cause or intensify regional or global instability.
They asked as follows and they answered the question WHERE can Parliaments And Legislatures Make A Difference?
Hear them: “To understand exactly how parliaments and legislatures can help reduce corruption risk in defence and security, it is helpful to consider what corruption in defence actually is.
When defining corruption in defence, most people think about procurement, as scandals involving the arms trade tend to make the headlines most often.
In fact, defence corruption is much broader than this. Over the past nine years of discussing the subject with governments, TI-DSP has identified 29 specific corruption risks. These are mapped out in five main areas: political risk, finance risk, personnel risk, operations risk and procurement risk.”
So why are we being miseducated by a very shallow politically motivated lawyer that the central parliament can’t invited the elected President when the President unlike the Queen of England is elected by the people of Nigeria who donate the legitimacy to the Nigerian government to exercise authority since the PEOPLE OF NIGERIA ARE THE RIGHTFUL OWNERS OF THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA? When will this political comedies end?
EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs @www. huriwanigeria.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.thenigerianinsidernews.com.