The declaration of June 12 as a public holiday by President Muhammmadu Buhari is a mere desire, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said.
Malami on Wednesday evening emphasised that June 12 could not be a public holiday until the Public Holiday Act is amended by the National Assembly.
He was reacting to criticisms trailing the presidential declaration recognising June 12 as the National Democracy Day in honour of the presumed winner of the annuled 1993 presidential election, late Chief M.K.O. Abiola.
The minister, who spoke to State House correspondents, was responding to a question on whether the declaration did not contravene the Public Holiday Act.
He said: “As it relates to public holidays, there is truly a Public Holiday Act but it is about the process and process of amendment. At any rate, the Act can be amended and the process of amendment has been put in place.
“So, when the Act has been fully amended, the declaration of the President will come into effect. It is a declaration of intention, a declaration of desire and that will eventually be given effect with the act of amendment of the existing law.”
On whether Buhari could give a posthumous award to any Nigerian without the approval of the Council of State, Malami said: “I think we need to make distinctions between the Nigeria National Merit Award Act and the Nigerian National Honours Act. They are two distinct and different applicable laws as far as National honours awards are concerned.
“You have the National Merit Award on the strength of which we have the law of the governing board comes into effect and then as it relates to the National Honours Act, the Board does not have any relevance in terms of processing of the Honours.
“For then, above all, we equally have in existence precedence as it relates to the award of posthumous Honours. I can recall that a former head of state, General Murtala Mohammed was equally honored posthumously amongst others.”