Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, says his office can choose to disobey certain court orders in the interest of the public.
With Malami as AGF between 2015 and 2019, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has been accused of running a dictatorship partly due to its failure to obey some court orders.
Malami is one of the former ministers who served during Buhari's first term that has been appointed for a second time. During his screening at the National Assembly on Friday, July 26, 2019, Senate Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South - PDP), asked him why he failed to protect the rights of all Nigerians.
While citing provisions in the constitution, Malami said protecting the interests of the public will always prevail on private interests.
He said, "I concede that I have the responsibility as the Attorney General to protect individual rights; but looking at the provisions of Section 174 of the constitution, I want to state further that the office of the Attorney General is meant to protect public interest.
"And where the individual interest conflict with the public interest, the interest of 180 million Nigerians that are interested in having this country integrated must naturally prevail.
"I think that position has been very well captured by the apex court that has stated in the case of Asari Dokubo vs Federal Government of Nigeria that where an individual interest conflicts with public interest, the public interest naturally prevails."
Former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and the spiritual leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, are two notable people whom the government has refused to release despite bail orders from courts.
Many followers of El-Zakzaky, who's been detained since 2015, have been killed over the past year during protests for the release of the cleric, further increasing pressure on the government to let him out on bail. A Federal High Court granted him bail in 2016, but the government failed to release him, citing national security concerns.
During his screening, Malami stated his desire to be remembered as an Attorney General that kept the fabric of the nation together regardless of all the hate speeches flying around.
"My major task and intention is to ensure that our laws relating to treason and treasonable felonies are indeed effectively brought to bear to ensure this nation of ours remains one and the same; to ensure at the end of the day that, aggressively, we intensify the fight against corruption, and recover the looted assets locally and internationally," he said.
He said he ultimately intends to make Nigeria's system of governance efficient and effective.