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House of Reps moves to separate attorney-general from minister of justice

The House of Representatives is seeking to separate the office of the Attorney General of the Federation from that of the Minister of Justice, saying the separation will remove political interference in the operations of the Attorney General.

A bill to alter the 1999 constitution to separate the two offices sponsored by the Chief Whip of the House, Mohammed Tahir Monguno scaled through second reading at Tuesday’s plenary of the house.

Hon. Monguno said he was sponsoring the bill based on his experience as a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Borno state, adding that at the moment too much power was vested on the Minister or Commissioner for Justice in combining the two offices.

He said the powers vested on the Attorney General by the constitution are judicial in nature and when exercise to the fullest can affect the rights of the people and therefore should not be subjected to political interference.

He said the Attorney General has the power to declare a noli presecu or discontinue a case already in court, adding that recent development are suggestive of the fact that if should be isolated political interference.

He said while the President will be free to political consideration into appointing the Minister of Justice, while the appointment of the Attorney General should be based only on career progression.

Contributing to the debate, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai said the bill was first passed by the 7th and 8th Assembly, adding that a particular office should not be vested with too much power.

The bill was referred to committee on Legislative Matters for further legislative action.

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