he Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has explained why policemen were dispatched to Magodo Phase 2 Estate area of Lagos State.
He said the action was taken because the state government refused to implement a Supreme Court judgement.
Malami stated that “sanctity of the rule of law is not a matter of choice.”
This is as he said he “takes exception” to Wednesday’s reaction by South-West governors to the Magodo Estate incident during the visit of the Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to the estate.
In a statement signed by Malami’s Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Umar Gwandu, the minister faulted the criticism of the South-West governors, saying nothing was unruly about the operations of the police officers’ presence at the estate.
The Forum of South-West governors had earlier reacted to what they described as a “disrespect” to Sanwo-Olu.
A Chief Superintendent of Police had openly disagreed with Sanwo-Olu to withdraw his colleagues who had invaded the estate.
The CSP had told the governor that he and his armed colleagues were at the estate on the orders of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, and Malami.
The South-West governors had in a statement signed by Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, faulted the alleged roles of the IGP and the AGF.
But reacting, Malami said: “It is important to state that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation belongs to the Executive arm of the Government. The Supreme Court belongs to the Judiciary.
“The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice takes exception to the South-West Governors unjustifiable insinuation of impunity against the office of the Attorney General over execution of a judgement of the Supreme Court.
“The role of the executive is, in this respect, simply to aid the maintenance of law and order in due compliance with rule of law arising from giving effect to the judgement of the apex court of the land.
“Let it be known that the issue is regarding a Supreme Court judgement that was delivered in 2012 long before the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in office at a time when Malami was not a Minister.
“The judgement was a reaffirmation of the judgements of Court of Appeal and High Court delivered on 31st December, 1993.
“It is widely reported in the papers that the Lagos State Governor was quoted to have said “I’ve spoken extensively with the Inspector-General of Police and the Honourable Attorney-General, and we’ve resolved all the issues”.
“The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, would appreciate if the coalition of the governors will help to unravel the circumstances preventing the Lagos State Government from enforcing the court order despite several attempts from 2012-2015 and so-called settlement initiative started in 2016.
“Some of the cardinal pillars of democratic government are the doctrine of separation of powers and obedience to the rule of law inclusive of court Orders.
“It is a common knowledge that execution of the judgment and orders of courts of competent jurisdiction, and the court of last resort in the circumstances remains a cardinal component of the rule of law and the office of the Attorney General wonders how maintenance of the law and orders in the course of execution of the judgement of the Supreme Court can be adjudged by imagination of the governors to be unruly.
“We want restate that sanctity of the rule of law is not a matter of choice.