The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has said the separation of the Office of the the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) from that of the Minister of Justice is still possible, if Nigerians still desire it as a way to strengthen justice delivery in the country.
Ekweremadu while speaking with newsmen at the weekend, at the construction site of the National headquarters of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), in Abuja, commended the Bar leadership, under Mr Augustine Alegeh, for continuing with the project started by his predecessor.
He revealed that the proposal to separate the two offices actually sailed through during the last amendment exercise, but noted that it could not see the light of the day since the Forth Alteration Bill was not assented to by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He added that although he personally believed in the idea, it was a decision for the majority of Nigerians and lawmakers to make.
The lawmaker, however, maintained that the separation of the two offices would make whoever is appointed the AGF to work for the people, and not necessarily the government in power as a cabinet minister, saying it would ensure access to justice by citizens, devoid of any external influence.
According to him “I believe in the separation of the two offices. I go for it anytime, any day. This is because it will guarantee financial independence, security of tenure, and make the holder of the Office of the Attorney-General at the state and federal levels to be autonomous in thinking and approach to the idea of justice.
“It will ensure that citizens would have access to justice, since the Officer will not be dictated to by any external interest or influence.
“During the last constitution amendment exercise, we (members Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution in the 7th National Assembly) recommend it to our colleagues, based on inputs from Nigerians, and they graciously adopted it. Unfortunately, the last President did not sign it,” he said.