By Omotosho Oluyode
The Honorable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami is indeed a phenomenon when it comes to the preservation of the spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is regardless of what anyone may think about his personality.
I don’t envy him, but I admire his courage and strength of character in the way and manner he has carried on with such decorum that leaves some of us in awe. He is not your regular loud chap. But he is steadfast and stands by any action that preserves the spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The recent issue around the Magodo Housing Estate in Lagos though misconstrued by a large segment of the society, including my humble self has since exposed him as a apostle of the rule of law. In fact, as a Yoruba man, I don’t think people from the other side of the country know as much as we do. So I was bitter knowing that the AGF and the IGP are even from the other side of the country with me. Needless to say we all jumped at the bandwagon to criticize AGF Malami and the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba. But in the end, I was made a fool when I tried to dig deep into the matter.
The drama between the Lagos State Governor and the police officer was blown out of proportion. The involvement of the AGF was in line with his responsibility as the Chief Law Officer of the country and the facts on the ground. It was nothing near a Gestapo raid as some select individuals would want members of the unsuspecting members of the public to believe.
The first question is, does the AGF has an interest in Magodo? The answer is no. Did the Nigerian Police Force act in isolation? The answer is no. Was there a court ruling in that regard? The answer is yes. Did the AGF exercise his powers as the AGF, and the answer is yes. And are there contending issues that ought to be resolved through the instrument of the law? And the answer is yes.
So given the above-stated facts, it, therefore, defeats common sense as to why there was so much sensationalism that greeted the police action. We must understand that Nigeria is not a banana republic where some vested interest would ascribe to themselves the monopoly of arrogance towards this issue. As I mentioned earlier, the facts on the ground indicated that the AGF didn’t act in insolation. It has never been his style, I gathered. In Nigeria, such acts can’t be sustained because Nigerians are enlightened and never afraid to address issues especially under the Buhari presidency.
The Police were there on lawful duty to enforce a Supreme Court judgment. The AGF is the Chief Law officer of the country and was doing his work for all irrespective of ethnic or political considerations. But some people translated the action of the Police to have a religious and ethnic colouration because the AGF is a northerner. But they forgot that the AGF is not known to be a religious or an ethnic champion. As a fact, I am not convinced that religion or ethnicity was in consideration in the Magodo issue.
Instead, the AGF displayed an act of uncommon courage that must be commended within the law’s ambit. Those who would want to disagree with this position would do themselves some good if they took the time to study the origin of the Magodo issues from 1993. Until they understood the issues, they would continue to be gullible to the whims and caprices of a select few, whose stock in trade is to whip up unnecessary ethno-religious sentiments.
I could go on non-stop on the contentious Magodo issues. However, one thing I can attest to as a well-informed party in the matter is that the AGF and the Nigerian Police acted in good faith. Those with a contrary opinion should do well to counter this position in a most civilized manner.
I think the AGF indeed saved the day. This is what most persons and organizations might not realize; instead, they busied themselves conjuring narratives that fit their purpose while ignoring the substance of the matter. This is the trend in recent times, but this time around, it didn’t serve its purpose due to the avalanche of facts before the public domain.
I want to commend the conduct of the AGF thus far with regards to the issue in Magodo as the Chief Law Officer of the country. The AGF displayed a grasp of the issues and acted in good faith. I am tempted to think that Nigeria needs well informed and enlightened public office holders in the mould of the AGF.
His grasps of issues are impressive. He has managed the dynamics inherent in our legal system with enviable decorum, for he indeed saved the day in what would have been a monumental impasse. I say this because Justice starts from how the law keepers behave and not what the court says actually.
We must learn to call a spade a spade and avoid making sensational headlines out of every situation. However, in this case, the AGF was made a saint. I dare say that having Abubakar Malami as the AGF has saved the country the error of implementing the law on its head as some disgruntled elements would desire. And this has rocked the boat for some vested interest—my two cents.
Omotosho Oluyode writes from Magodo estate, Lagos.