Malami, Falana trade tackles on Umuahia court ruling

Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s minister of justice and attorney-general, has pushed back allegation of ‘forum shopping’ made against him by Femi Falana, a senior advocate.

Falana, in a statement on Sunday, suggested Malami had through proxies sought a favourable court judgement against the contentious Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022.

The human rights lawyer referenced a recent ruling by a federal high court in Umuahia directing the AGF to delete the said section.

He cited a similar case was instituted in another court in Ibadan and that both cases, curiously, had Malami as the sole defendant.

Falana said Malami deliberately did not disclose to the judge at Umuahia that the sister Ibadan court had declined jurisdiction in hearing the same matter.

“In any case, since the case pending at the Ibadan judicial division of the federal high court was well reported in the print and electronic media, the judge sitting in the Umuahia judicial division ought to have struck out the fresh case before her as it constituted a gross abuse of court process,” Falana said.

“It is pertinent to note that while the attorney-general of the federation pretended not to know about the order of interim injunction granted by the Abuja judicial division of the federal high court, he has announced the plan of the federal government to comply with the judgment delivered in the Umuahia case as soon as possible.”

According to Falana, if Malami goes ahead to delete section 84(12), he would be liable to contempt of court as the Abuja division of the federal high court has restrained him and other defendants from enforcing the provision “pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction”.

“We submit, without any fear of contradiction, that unless the valid and subsisting order of the Abuja judicial division of the federal high court is set aside either by the trial judge or an appellate court, the attorney-general of the federation cannot delete section 84(12) of the Electoral Act,” he said.

“No doubt, this is the first time in the entire history of Nigeria that the office of the attorney-general of the federation has engaged in forum shopping for favourable orders of the the federal high court or any other court.”

However, Malami denies the allegation. In his response made by Umar Gwandu, his spokesperson, Malami dismissed the allegation.

“It only takes the figment of the imagination of mischief makers to think or assume that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice will stoop so low to do what they claimed,” a statement by Umar Gwandu, the AGF’s spokesperson, read in part.

In its report, Premium Times, said Gwandu pledged Malami’s “commitment to ensuring justice, equity, fair play” in the discharge of his responsibilities.

He advised Nigerians “to refrain from making ‘unsubstantiably’ fabricated conjectures targeted at mischievously casting aspersions on personalities to score ulterior motives.”

“The Attorney General of the Federation is a strong advocate of equality before the law and non-discriminatory universal application of laws that do not disenfranchise citizens and not contradict the provisions of the Constitution and the extant laws,” the statement added.



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