The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has backtracked on his blame of the judiciary for the delays suffered in court by high-profile corruption cases.
This came on Tuesday, about 48 hours after Mr Malami completely exonerated the executive arm of goverment from the problem of delays and described it as entirely “a judicial affair.”
“You cannot by any stretch of imagination, place a blame associated with the conclusion and determination of the case on the doorsteps of the executive (arm of government). It is exclusively a judicial affair,” Mr Malami had said in an interview on Channels Televison’s primetime programme, ‘Politics Today’, on Monday.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported the minister’s claim to be inaccurate.
His retraction, however, did not come until barely 24 hours after the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, issued a rebuttal with references to how the executive arm of government was contributing to the problem.
Retracting the allegation in a statement by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, on Wednesday, Mr Malami said, “It was an innocent statement aimed at showing and re-enactment of tripartite division of powers and responsibilities among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.”
He said his comment on Channels Television “was construed to evoke an unintended and non-existing inferences which some mischief makers projected him as blaming the judiciary.”
The CJN had in a statement by his spokesperson, Ahuraka Isah, denied the twin accusations of delaying high-profile corruption cases and running an opaque budget levelled against the judiciary by Mr Malami.
Premium Times reported that Mr Malami had about two weeks ago criticised the lack of transparency around the judiciary’s budget.
The AGF, who spoke at a Justice Sector Summit, organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), challenged the judiciary to make its budgetary allocations and expenditures open.
The judiciary had yet to respond to the charge when, Mr Malami, on Monday, blamed it for the protracted trial of high-profile corruption cases.
Denying part of the charges on Tuesday, the CJN said Mr Malami was “one-sided” in his assessment of the issue bordering on prolonged criminal trials, especially concerning Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) in the country.
“The position of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) that the judiciary be held responsible for delays in the trial and delivery of judgements on corruption cases involving politically exposed individuals appears to be one-sided,” the CJN’s spokesperson, Ahuraka Isah, wrote in the statement.
While not exonerating the judiciary in the delays of such cases, Mr Muhammad pointed out various ways the executive arm of government was contributing to the problem.
“The Federal Government’s prosecution sector files more charges than it can prove or provide witnesses to prove, ostensibly at times for the prosecution to even fail,” the CJN statement had said.
Read Malami’s full statement:
*Justice Dispensation: I didn’t blame Judiciary – Malami*
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Jusitce, Abubakar Malami, SAN has said that President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government accords respect to the democratic provisions of the doctrine of separation of powers among the three independent and separate arms of government.
Malami made this known in a statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
Malami said the Federal Government maintained the sanctity of the provisions of Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that delineate the roles and responsibilities of the executives, legislature and judiciary.
He said it was on this note that the Federal Government supported the review of Section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to accommodate the provisions for financial autonomy of the state legislature and judiciary.
In addition to the Constitutional provisions, Malami explained that the Federal Government also came up with the Executive Order 10 to enforce the provision of autonomy of State Legislature and Judiciary.
Malami said it is on the record that the Buhari-led Federal Government has a record of non-interference with or meddling into the affairs of the legislature and judiciary.
It was within the context of this quality and feature of non-interference by the Buhari-led Federal government and for the avoidance of sub-judice that the Minister responded that high-profile cases were presented by the Federal Government for prosecution and the government came out with initiatives in its efforts to support speedy determination of justice.
He noted with dismay the way his response to a question in a recent interview was construed to evoke an unintended and non-existing inferences which some mischief makers projected him as blaming the judiciary.
“It was an innocent statement aimed at showing and re-enactment of tripartite division of powers and responsibilities among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary,” he said.
Malami said this position was in consistent with the decision of the Court of Appeal in Hon. Abdullahi Maccido Ahmad v. Sokoto State House of Assembly & Anor, (2002) 44 WRN 52 where the Court Per Salami JCA held inter alia that;
“The doctrine of separation of powers has three implications:
a. that the same person should not be part of more than one of the arms or division of government;
b. that one branch should not dominate or control another arm. This is particularly important in the relationship between (the) executive and the courts;
c. that one branch should not attempt to exercise the function of the other…”
The Minister said in view of the crucial role of the judiciary as an essential element of democratic system, the Federal Government gives attention to the budgetary provisions of the Judiciary in addition to welfare-packages meant to enhance their operations.
*Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu*
Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations,
Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice
9th February, 2022