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Who is the Attorney General of Nigeria in 2021

Nigeria has a legal industry filled with lawyers, barristers, and judges. However, the term “attorney general” is not one that’s commonly used when addressing any of these legal practitioners. This has left many Nigerians wondering, who is the attorney general of Nigeria? So even wonder if Nigeria has an attorney general at all. Well, I’m here to answer your question. Read on to find out about the attorney general of Nigeria and know if the country has one. 

Who is an attorney general? 

To figure out if Nigeria has an attorney general or not, you have to first understand who an attorney general is. Well, an attorney general serves as a representative of the public interests of a country and also as a counsel to government agencies. In other words, he or she is the prime legal advisor to a country’s government. This also implies that there can be only one attorney general in a country. 

Attorney generals have lots of responsibilities aside from the major ones mentioned above. According to the National Association of Attorneys General, here are the full duties of an attorney general; 

  • Providing formal opinions to state departments. 
  • Advocating with the public in areas such as child benefit compliance, consumer rights, antitrust, and utility control 
  • Legislative proposals 
  • Enforcing pollution policies at the federal and state levels 
  • Defending the state and state departments in state and federal courts 
  • Taking care of criminal appeals and major statewide court investigations 
  • Bringing legal actions on behalf of the state 
  • Representing the needs of the general public in charitable trusts and solicitations 
  • Running survivor restitution services

Who is the attorney general of Nigeria  

The attorney general of Nigeria is the Minister of Justice. He occupies both the office of the attorney general and that of the minister of justice. Furthermore, this make him in charge of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Justice. The attorney general of the federation doesn’t lead the ministry of justice alone. He is assisted by the Permanent Secretary. It’s important to note that the position of attorney general and permanent secretary in Nigeria are not voted. Both offices are appointed by the President. 

As at 2021, the attorney general of Nigeria is Abubakar Malami who was appointed by the President in November 2015. The Federal Ministry of Justice was launched in 1960 when Nigeria gained independence. Taslim Elias was the first attorney general of Nigeria and since inception, Nigeria has had 23 attorney generals. 

About Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s Attorney General 

Abubakar Malami assumed office as the attorney general of Nigeria on the 11th of November 2015. He was preceded by Mohammed Bello Adobe and was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari. Abubakar Malami studied law at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University where he graduated in 1991. By 1992, he was called to bar and two years later, 1994, he got a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Maiduguri. 

He’s a member of the All Progressive Congress (APC) which is the ruling party in Nigeria as at 2021. Abubakar Salami was once the national legal adviser of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a political party that no longer exists. He was one of the key players in the merging of different political parties to form the APC in 2013. 

Interestingly, Abubakar Malami is the youngest minister in Nigeria as he was just 47 years when he was appointed. He got his reappointment in 2019 following the elections. Also, in 2008, he was honorees as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. 

Is Attorney General the same as Chief Judge?

The offices of Attorney General and Chief Justice of the federation usually gets people confused. Well, you shouldn’t be as they are two different offices. While the attorney general of Nigeria is Abubakar Malami as mentioned earlier, the Chief Justice of Nigeria is Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad. 

One reason why people get confused over these two offices is the fact that they are both appointed by the President. However, the President isn’t the only role-player in the appointment of the Chief Justice. The National Judicial Council recommends a potential occupant of the office, the President then nominates them and finally. the senate confirms them as the Chief Judge.

However, cases where the Senate would reject a chief judge nominated by the President is very rare. Since we’ve established that the Attorney General and Chief Judge aren’t the same, let’s look at what makes them different. 

What’s the difference between attorney general and Chief Judge

The Chief Justice is seen as a prominent legal figure as much as the attorney general/minister of justice. Some people would say aside from ceremonial activities, there’s no difference between the attorney general and chief judge of a federation. Well, a few can be pointed out. 

First of all, the attorney general is also the minister of justice and leads the federal ministry of justice. The Chief Judge, on the other hand is the head of the judicial arm of government. Remember that a federal government, like that of Nigeria, is made up of three main arms – legislature, executive, and judicial. Furthermore, the chief judge governs the Supreme Court of Nigeria. The Supreme Court is the highest court in Nigeria which means in legal cases, the decision of the Chief Judge is final. 

The major difference between the two offices is that while the attorney general has more power in law enforcement, the chief judge has more power in law processing in court houses. In other words, an attorney general can influence what and what is not a crime while a chief judge can influence if that crime has been committed or not. 

Bottom Line  

A lot of Nigerians, especially new law students ask this question a lot. Does Nigeria have an attorney general? The answer to that question is yes. Who is he as of 2021? He is Abubakar Malami. What about the Chief Justice of the federation? Both are different offices although they are both part of the justice system in Nigeria and have their privileges.