Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, has said that policemen dispatched to Magodo Phase 2 Estate area of Lagos State were there on his orders, according to SaharaReporters.
SaharaReporters had reported that a Chief Superintendent of Police on Tuesday openly defied Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s order to vacate the area.
The police officer told the governor that he and his colleagues were at the estate on the orders of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba; as well as the Attorney General of the Federation.
Sanwo-Olu had led members of his cabinet to visit the residents protesting the continued presence of armed policemen in the estate.
For days, policemen besieged the estate in company with suspected land grabbers and members of a family, who had planned to demolish property in the choice estate to execute a Supreme Court judgment.
The development caused commotion at the estate as landlords and tenants worried over their fate.
Reacting on Wednesday, South-West governors in a statement signed by Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State described the development as unacceptable to the governors.
They also condemned in clear terms, the role of the Attorney-General of the Federation in issue.
But in a reaction on Wednesday night, Malami in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Umar Gwandu, reminded them that his office “belonged to the Executive arm of government, while the Supreme Court belongs to the judiciary”.
He also faulted the criticism of South-West governors, saying nothing was unruly about the operations of the police officers’ presence at the estate.
He said the role of the executive was to maintain law and order in due compliance with rule of law arising from giving effect to the judgment of the apex court of the land.
The statement reads, “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 judgment of the Supreme Court.
“The role of the executive is, in this respect, simply to aide the maintenance of law and order in due compliance with rule of law arising from giving effect to the judgment of the apex court of the land. Let it be known that the issue is regarding a Supreme Court judgment 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 judgment was a reaffirmation of the judgments 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 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 judgment 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.”