…as Senate adjourns till Tuesday
The immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, explained yesterday that the continued incarceration of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, is in the interest of national security.
Malami told senators during his screening for a fresh ministerial appointment that although he has a responsibility as Justice Minister to protect individual rights, it was equally his responsibility to protect the corporate interest of the country.
He had been taken to task by the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, to explain to Nigerians why the rights of those granted bail by the court were still being violated by keeping them in custody.
Malami did not mention El-Zakzaky and Dasuki by name.
He declared that those granted bail and yet to be freed were being held in the overall interest of the country.
Malami said: “Abaribe asked his question relying on Section 36, 37 and 38 of the Constitution as they relate to the rights of the individual. I concede that I have had the responsibility to protect the rights of every Nigerian.
“The office of the AGF is made to protect the rights of individuals and the corporate rights of the nation. Section 174 of the Constitution is explicit that where the individual interest conflicts with public interest, public interest prevails.
“I concede that I have had a responsibility as the attorney general of the federation to protect individual rights. But looking at the provisions of section 174 of the constitution of Nigeria, I want to reiterate and state further that the office of the attorney general is meant to protect public interest. And where the individual interest conflicts with public interest, the interest of 180 million Nigerians that are interested in having this country integrated must naturally prevail.”
He said that Asari Dokubo’s case gave credence to his assertion that national interest supersedes individual interest.
Malami also told the Senate that under his watch as AGF and minister Justice, over 63-terrorism-related cases were instituted against suspected terrorists.
He noted that 59 convictions were secured out of the 63 cases within the four years.
“About 59 terrorism convictions out of 63 cases within a space of four years were secured when I was the Minister of Justice. Over 4,400 criminal cases were prosecuted within a space of four years.”
Malami stressed the need for collaboration between the Executive and the Legislature to ensure that bills passed by the National Assembly receive Presidential assent.
The Executive, he said, must be consulted before bills are passed if they are expected to receive the President’s assent.
On why the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) was rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari, he said: “The interest of host communities was compromised. Self-serving portions were brought into the bill. So much power was conferred on an individual instead of an institution.
“If there was an understanding with institutions that had direct bearing with the Bill, it would not have been rejected by the President.”
Malami said: ‘Under me, the following bills were brought: National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) bill, Proceed of Crimes bill, Mutual Assistance and Legal matters bill, Anti-Terrorism bill and others. Nigeria was at a time facing an expulsion threat.
“At the international forum, we have joined open government partnership under a president that told us that we should not only be seen fighting corruption locally but transparent internationally.
“In terms of the fight against terrorism, we have succeeded within the time I was made Attorney General. We worked on 63 terrorism cases and secured 59 convictions. We took effective measures.
“I am happy to report that we have succeeded in helping the government to save N145 billion and $5 billion within a period of three years.
“We increased the recovery account from N19 billion to N279 billion as at November 2018.
“It is my desire to operate within the spirit of constitution of Nigeria that established the need for integration.
Also screened yesterday were Mr.Festus Keyamo (SAN) from Delta State, Alhaji Isa Ali Pantami (Gombe State), Mrs.Paullen Tallen (Plateau State), Mr.Hadi Sirika (Katsina State) , Dr.Osagie Ehinare (Edo State) and Mohammed Maigeri Dengeji (Sokoto State).
Ehanire calls for more funding for PHCs
Dr Osagie Ehanire, the immediate past Minister of State for Health, asked lawmakers providing constituency projects and other individuals to support further development of Primary Health Care (PHC) centres in the country.
He said although primary health care was now receiving funding from government, more logistic support was needed to deliver services to Nigerians.
He listed areas requiring support to include provision of water, solar power and staff quarters for the health centres across the country.
The nominee also called for the channelling of more funds into PHC, noting that there were more challenges in the PHC than in tertiary health.
He decried a situation where estimated N1 billion ended as capital flight on oversee treatments annually.
He also noted that the National Agency for Drugs and Foods Administration (NAFDAC) under the supervision of the ministry had destroyed substantial fake drugs across the country.
He said the ministry had also improved the immunisation of children and polio vaccination in the last four years.
Osagie was however asked to take a bow after attempting some questions.
The nominee from Plateau State, Mrs Pauline Tallen was also asked to take a bow by the senate as did the immediate past Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who is a former senator.
Sirika: Why Enugu airport should be shut
Sirika told reporters at the National Assembly that the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu should be shut to avoid disaster.
Senator Sirika described the runway of the airport as an eye sore not befitting a modern airport.
He said: “On Enugu Airport, I visited Enugu Airport as minister thrice including the state government and unofficially twice. It has a lot of problems.
“If you ask me, I will close Enugu Airport tomorrow, actually today, because the runway has failed.
“They are maintaining it regularly to ensure safe operations. I am not comfortable because there are also other problems with the runway.
“Its (runway) is short, it needs to be extended. We recognise the efforts by the Federal Government by closing down the market beside the airport.
“Also people have built within the premises of the airport on the safety area of the airport, and that ought not to be on the land belonging to Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). “Whoever is the next minister will contend with that, because this is safety. Enugu Airport will be dear to the next minister.
That is my personal opinion. We are very jealous of that city and the airport.”
On the establishment of a national carrier, he said: “Should President Muhammadu Buhari still think that I go transportation, I will continue with that good job. It is good for the future and fortune of Nigerians. One aeroplane is equal to 300 direct jobs. This is a priority that should be taken.”