With the inception of PAX-BRATANICA, in this country towards the end of the last century, there was always a Legal Department with the Attorney-General as its head. This Attorney-General was stricto-sensu a civil servant and pari of the executive arm of the British Colonial Administration. In the Attorney-General’s Department or Legal Department were serving legal officers designated as CROWN COUNSEL. With the introduction of the 1960 Constitution which brought into being the concept of ministerial or cabinet form of government with the Prime Minister as the head of a Cabinet of Ministers, the Attorney-General continued to be a civil servant, while a new cabinet post of Minister for Justice was created. The Constitution of 1963 made the office of Attorney-General unmistakably political either at the centre or in any of the three regions of Nigeria at that time. The various constitutions provided that the Attorney-General shall be a member either of the House of Parliament or Senate or of a Legislative House of a region. The constitution of 1960 made provisions for the office of a DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS who was not under the MINISTER OF JUSTICE. This state of affairs subsisted until the coming into force of the 1963 Constitution which placed the Director of Public Prosecutions under the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. Thus we had under the 1963 Constitution, an Attorney-General who was a politician with the portfolio of Justice and thus the head of that Ministry. Under him was the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary of that Ministry and the Director of Public Prosecutions both of whom were civil servants. With the advent of the military administration of 1966, Decree No. 55 of that year effected a restructuring of the status of the Attorney-General as follows:- ‘(1) The Head of the National Military Government may, if he thinks fit, appoint a person to be Attorney-General of the Republic. (1a) The functions of the Attorney-General of the Republic shall include the exercise, subject to the authority of the Executive Council, of general direction and control over the National Ministry of Justice, (1b) Whenever and so long as no person holds the office of Attorney-General of the Republic, any function which is conferred by this Constitution or any other law upon the Attorney-General of the Republic shall vest in the Solicitor-General of the Republic and may be performed by him notwithstanding anything in sub-section (4) of this section.’ Identically worded modification were inserted in the Constitutions of the Regions and later of the States. All these provisions operated within the framework of the 1963 Constitution modelled after the West minister Cabinet form of government as amended by the various decrees of the intervening military administrations up to 30th September, 1979. On the coming into force of the Presidential form of civilian administration on 1st October, 1979, a new office of Attorney-General was created for the Federation who was also a minister in the government. Section 138 of the Constitution makes provision for this. Similarly section 176 makes provisions for the appointment of an Attorney-General for a State, who shall be a Commissioner of the government of that State.

– A.G. Irikefe JSC. AG Kaduna State v. Hassan (1985) – SC.149/1984

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It is not in dispute that the Attorney-General of the Federation can be sued as a defendant in all civil matters in which a claim can properly be made against the Federal Government or any of its authorised agencies, arising from any act or omission complained of. (See Ozomo v Attorney-General Bendel State (1986) 4 NWLR (Part 36) 448). The Inspector-General of Police, who is involved in this case, is the head of the Nigeria Police Force in Nigeria. It is a force recognised by the State and Federal Governments of Nigeria and it’s a separate body created by the Constitution with special powers and responsibilities and can properly be sued. (See sections 214-216 of 1999 Constitution and Police Act Cap. 359 of Laws of Federation; 1990).

— Kalgo JSC. AG Kano State v AG Federation (2007) – SC 26/2006

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It has been firmly decided in many decided cases of this court that the Federal Attorney-General is the Chief Law Officer of the Federation; he is the custodian and protector of the Constitution. He is competent to be sued in any suit against the Federal Government or any of its agencies. Any case involving the (1) interpretation of the constitution as it affects our democratic system of governance. (2) The doctrine of separation of powers entrenched in our constitution, or any suit which poses a threat to the independence of any arm of government, the Attorney-General of the Federation must be an inevitable party.

– Adekeye, JSC. Elelu-Habeeb v. A.G Federation (2012)

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