Suspended Nigerian-born Minister of Justice and Solicitor-General of the Government of Alberta, Canada, Kelechi Madu, has explained that he didn’t phone Edmonton Police Chief, Dale McFee, to seek the cancellation of a fine imposed on him for a traffic violation.
Madu, in a string of tweets on his verified Twitter handle on Wednesday, said he contacted the police chief only to share his experience.
It had earlier been reported that the Premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney, on Tuesday, said it was important for Madu to step aside pending the outcome of an independent investigation into a March 10, 2021 incident.
Madu, who assumed the role in August 2020 and is reportedly the first Black person to serve as a minister of justice in Canada, got fined for using his phone while driving in March 2021.
He was accused of calling the province’s police chief after being slammed a $300 fine he received for violating one of Canada’s traffic and safety regulations.
“I conveyed to him my profound disappointment in his decision to contact the Edmonton Police Chief after receiving a ticket for a traffic violation,” Kenney had stated, adding that Minister Sonya Savage would act as Minister of Justice and Solicitor General during Madu’s leave of absence.
But in his defence, Madu explained that he was pulled over by an officer of the Edmonton Police Service on the said date while he was driving to a media function.
He said, “The officer indicated that he had observed me driving while distracted, alleging that I was on my phone.
“I disagreed, stating that I was not on my phone, as it was in an inside pocket. To be absolutely clear my phone was inside the left hand side pocket of my suit and I was wearing a winter jacket. I identified myself and drove away.
“Later, I spoke to Chief McFee to share the experience I have just had, and specifically for two reasons.
“First, due to the timing of the incident, I wanted to ensure that I was not being unlawfully surveilled following the Lethbridge Police Service controversy, and on my way to Legislature on a day I was meeting with the media to answer questions on Lethbridge Police Service.
“Second, I also raised concerns around profiling of racial minorities that was in the media at the time and wanted the Chief to hear about my own experience. As Minister, these are concerns that were constantly being brought to my attention.
“The reason why I was proceeding in the Legislature with Bill 63 to ban carding which I tabled for first reading on April 7, 2021. I wanted to share this personal experience and encounter with the Chief of Police.
“Chief McFee assured me that that was most definitely not the case, and I accepted him at his word.”
Madu stressed that at no point did he request that the ticket be rescinded. “I can assure that in my life I would never do any such thing,” he said, adding that he “paid the ticket fully and promptly”.
“I am one that always hold myself accountable for my actions. I respect the Premier’s direction for me to take a temporary leave of absence pending the outcome of the independent investigation,” he concluded.
It had been earlier reported that Madu, in July 2021, had a spat with the Nigerian Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, over the re-arrest of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.