For the second time running, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Thursday, did not respond to the invitation of the Senator David Umaru-led Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
The AGF was first scheduled to appear on Thursday, June 23, before the committee, but was adjourned on his request.
It was, however, rescheduled for Thursday, June 30, but he never turned up.
However, his absence on Thursday, according to his representative on Special Adviser to the President on Public Prosecution in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Okoi Obono-Obla, that “he’s on national duty, he’s outside the country.”
The appearance of Mr Okoi Obono-Obla did not go down well with Senator David Umaru as he said “this is the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and this invitation was for the Justice Minister to appear in person, hence, we cannot interact with you on this matter.”
The committee chairman, therefore, adjourned the meeting pending the decision of the Senate after considering the panel’s report at plenary.
In an interview with journalists after he was chased out, Obono-Obla said: “The AGF has not done anything wrong. The AGF has not undermined democracy, he acted pursuant to his powers vested on him by the Constitution, Section 174 (1) which says he can prosecute anybody and he has done that.
“The Senate is not on trial. He has not taken the Senate to court. He has taken four persons to court. They are not the Senate. Being President of the Senate does not make you the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The matter was investigated by the police and a prima facie case was established and the AGF invoked his powers under Section 174 (1) to initiate criminal proceedings against those persons.
“This matter is now before a court of law. There is separation of powers in Nigeria. It is not position of the Senate to constitute themselves into a court of law.
“If I go to the chambers of the National Assembly to shoot you, would it be an internal affair? If I forge certificate, will you say that the police did not give me the certificate? What is the duty of the police? To investigate crime and they investigated a DIG, a very experienced police officer, carried out forensic investigation.
“They established that these rules were forged. Anybody who’s not satisfied should go to the court and ventilate his defence, but not to take the position that the AGF has committed a crime.
“It doesn’t matter whether Saraki was invited by the police or not. So, let him go and tell that to the court. That is why he should hands off. And allow the court to hear this matter.
“At the end of the day, if it is established that this charge is frivolous, the court will discharge him, but not to take the position that the AGF has committed any crime.
“He’s not answerable to them. By virtue of the principle of Separation of Powers, he is answerable to the president who appointed him. And he has not done anything wrong.”