Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), while speaking on a program yesterday said that the Federal Government, in its discretion could challenge any court order it finds uncomfortable within the ambit of the constitution.
Malami stated this in connection with the controversy surrounding the convener of the #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, and former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd). He maintained that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was constitutionally right in detaining the two of them.
He said, “When a decision is passed, or a judgment or an order is delivered by the court, you have an option – which is absolute and unconditional compliance; secondly, challenge the order by way of either an appeal against the order or having the order reviewed."
He added that "In respect of those orders we feel as a government that we are not comfortable with, we go back to the court and have them challenged.”
Citing the cases of Dasuki and Sowore, the AGF stated that “There were applications for setting aside orders; there were appeals for stay of execution all through. So, until those matters reach the Supreme Court and it takes the final decision relating therein, you are still operating within the ambit and context of rule of law.”
He added that “In the case of Sowore and Dasuki, there were applications for setting aside, there were appeals, and there was an application for stay of execution all through. Until those matters reached the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court takes a final decision, you are still operating within the context of the rule of law. It is important to understand clearly how the rule of law operates within the context of the Nigeria situation, within the ambit of our constitutional law and ambit of out statutory provisions.”
Malami cleared the air explaining how the rule of law operates within the context of the Nigerian constitution.
He said that Nigeria has a plethora of judicial decisions that establish a fact that when an individual is challenging a court order through a judicial process that handed the court order, the idea of disobedience to that court order does not arise.
The Attorney General said, “The misapprehension that set into the system and deliberately put in the public space is the fact that once there is a court order, you must unconditionally comply. You can only be adjudged being in disobedience of a court order when you don’t take advantage of the constitutional powers, rights and privileges accorded to you by appealing against the orders and, perhaps, seeking for stay of execution of the order or, perhaps, you don’t take any steps seeking variation of the court order."