Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency across the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to Peoples Gazette, this is based on a secret memo and official accounts, as the administration scrambles to walk its way out of acute insecurity and the encumbrances of constitutional provisions.
It was learnt that Malami wrote a lengthy legal advice to Buhari, urging him to move swiftly to suspend the fundamental rights of all Nigerians as guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution.
In the eight-page secret memo dated May 4, 2021, Malami told Buhari that insecurity across Nigeria has reached a level that could no longer be checked by existing democratic techniques, saying only a state of emergency promulgated by the President could help return the country to tranquillity.
“The essence of declaration is to allow for suspension of constitutional and legal bureaucratic bottlenecks pertaining to matters of National Security with particular regards to fundamental rights guaranteed under Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution and processes and procedures relating to procurements, among others,” the AGF said.
Malami added that the President should issue instruments of emergency and publish them in the federal gazette.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila would be informed about the decision ahead of implementation, he added.
“To douse probable legal tension, it is important for the proclamation instrument of the statement of emergency to expressly provide for the suspension of Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution and its attendant enforcement rules,” Malami wrote.
“The suspension of rights pertaining to matters of national security will then give legal backing for the proclamation of the statement of emergency to be operational and effective without litigious or judicial distractions.”
In the early pages of the document, Malami cited widespread acts of insecurity and blamed prominent separatist agitators like Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu for fueling the protracted crisis that has enveloped the country and aggravated the social and economic conditions of Nigerians.
The memo was endorsed to the President by the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, a retired Major-General, and administration officials are divided on how to proceed with the advice.
“Clearly, different factions of our government have different positions on this alarming proposal,” a presidency official told The Gazette. “But everyone agrees that the AGF holds powerful sway over the president and it would be a miracle if the Constitution is not suspended as he recommended.”
Another official also within the presidency, who confirmed hearing about the memo but had not seen it, said Buhari might have little resistance considering the potency of Malami’s argument.
“The President is just saying they should act in the best interest of the country,” the official said.
“Even as the president, he seemed to have given up on his own ability to get the AGF to back down.”
Malami and presidential spokesman Garba Shehu did not return The Gazette’s requests for comments about the proposal.
Buhari has been conflicted over widespread chaos that threatens to define his eight-year leadership as a democratically-elected leader. His administration is the fourth since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999 following years of military dictatorship.
Whereas he touted his military bona fides as a plus for his fitness for a nation beset by insecurity, the country has seen no changes in security challenges under Buhari. Since 2015, thousands of Nigerians have been killed by armed bandits, killer herdsmen, kidnappers and even security agents.
Millions of citizens are already racked by economic hardships which analysts blamed on the administration’s rudderless policies.