A former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr Olisa Agbakoba, has criticised the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, for his letter on elections in Zamfara State.
In a letter addressed to the minister and dated 14 February 2019, Agbakoba faulted the AGF for asking the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone other elections apart from the presidential poll in the state.
According to him, the action of the minister raises concerns about the promise by President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the coming elections are free and fair.
“It is my hope that this letter will be immediately withdrawn,” said Dr Agbakoba who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
He added, “President Muhammadu Buhari has at various fora undertaken that the Federal Government will not interfere with INEC. Your letter puts that commitment to question.”
In a letter which emerged earlier on Thursday, Mr Malami had asked to recognise the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamafara State for the elections.
He explained that his letter was informed by a petition he received from a law firm, following the ruling of a Court of Appeal in Sokoto State dismissing the appeal challenging the qualification of Zamfara APC candidates for the polls.
The minister has also asked the electoral umpire to postpone the governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly polls in Zamfara to allow the ruling party to prepare for the polls.
Dr Agbakoba, however, stated that INEC was an independent institution which cannot take directives from the Federal Government.
He insisted that it was the APC that ought to have made such a request and not the minister, stressing that he is “not the Attorney General of INEC”.
Read the full letter by the former NBA president below;
14th February, 2019
Abubakar Malami, SAN
Attorney General of the Federation
Federal Ministry of Justice,
Federal Secretariat, Abuja.
Dear Attorney General,
RE: REQUEST FOR POSTPONEMENT OF ZAMFARA STATE ELECTIONS
I am shocked by your letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the above subject. You are the Attorney General of the Federation and not the Attorney General of INEC. INEC is an independent institution and cannot take directives from the Federal Government. If there is need for the postponement of the Zamfara state elections as indicated in your letter, the proper person to request the postponement is the All Progressive Congress (APC). In any case, Sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act 2010 which your request is based on have nothing to do with postponement of elections.
President Mohammadu Buhari has at various fora undertaken that the Federal Government will not interfere with INEC. Your letter puts that commitment to question.
It is my hope that this letter will be immediately withdrawn.
Dr Olisa Agbakoba SAN