The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has responded to Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, for urging him to apologise to the convener of RevolutionNow movement, Omoyele Sowore, and former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
Malami, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Umar Gwandu, on Monday, accused Falana, who is Sowore’s lawyer, of concocting constitutional provisions for “mischief.”
The AGF said his attention was drawn to a letter purportedly written by Falana and titled: “Re: Why FG Released Dasuki, Sowore – Malami.”
The said letter was in response to a statement the AGF issued on December 24, where he explained reasons why the federal government decided to release Sowore from his over four months’ stay in the Department of State Service (DSS) custody.
The minister had insisted that the release of Sowore and the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), was on compassionate grounds and not fuelled by pressure from any quarter.
However, Falana in a counter statement on Sunday carpeted Malami for claiming that he used his office to extend mercy to the two former DSS detainees.
Falana argued that the AGF had no power to release any person from custody on compassionate grounds.
“As you are no doubt aware, only the President and state governors are entitled to exercise the prerogative of mercy or release any convicted person on compassionate grounds by virtue of section 175 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999,” he argued.
But Falana’s position did not go down well with the AGF, who accused him of twisting statutory provisions for mischief.
He said, “The initial reaction of the Office of the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation was to ignore the letter, as it is replete with misinformation and evinces lack of proper understanding of the law and issues implicated.
“The office of attorney general of the federation has, however, decided to respond thereto in order to clarify the issues involved in the overall interest of the public. First, it is beyond doubt that the federal government of Nigeria or any prosecuting authority has been vested with constitutional right of appeal in criminal prosecutions.
“These rights extend to rulings on bail and right to seek to vary terms of bail, among others. Thus, in any circumstance where this right is waived by the prosecution, it can only be for valid reasons, including compassion, after all connected issues have been duly considered.
“It is further appalling to note that in a bid to garner media-hype in condemnation of a valid governmental action taken in good faith and in the interest of the general public, Mr. Falana resorted to quoting non-existing sections of the constitution by stating that: ‘Mr. Malami (SAN) should have apologised to Col. Dasuki (retd) and Mr. Sowore in accordance with section 32(6) of the 1999 constitution.
“It is unfortunate that a senior member of the bar could resort to concoctions and fabrications of non-existing provisions just to score cheap media publicity.”