The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has accused the National Assembly of trying to intimidate a judge over his ruling on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
He said this on Tuesday after appearing in court as a second defendant in the suit filed by the Accord Party against the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which changes the sequence of the 2019 general elections.
The friction between the National Assembly and the judiciary emerged last week, March 14, when Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court temporarily barred the National Assembly from taking any action aimed at overriding the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari sign the bill into law.
In reaction to the ruling, the Senate insisted the judiciary cannot stop it from carrying out its constitutional duties. Suggesting that the ruling was in violation of the principles of separation of powers, it had said it would write the Chief Justice of Nigeria about its position.
Malami, however, described the reaction to the judge’s ruling as unfortunate.
“Resorting to intimidation and threats by one arm of government, that is the Senate, threatening to report the judge in the discharge of his duty is most unfortunate and sad,” he said.
The AGF spoke in reaction to a statement made by the counsel to the National Assembly, Mr Joseph Daudu, who said the judiciary “is in the eye of the storm” following the criticism that trailed Justice Mohammed’s ruling.
Malami called on the various arms of government to adhere to and promote the principles of separation of powers.
On his part, human rights lawyer and counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr Femi Falana, urged the court not to be swayed by comments made outside the court.
Meanwhile, the court dismissed an application filed by the All Peoples Party seeking to be joined as a party in the suit.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed held that the Accord Party, which filed the suit can comfortably defend the case without any party joining it.
He then adjourned the suit till March 26 for the hearing of the substantive matter.