Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, on Friday, took on Transparency International (TI) over the latter’s allegations of compromise by Malami in the fight against corruption in the country.
Malami, who said he found such allegations as not only a cheap blackmail but false, frivolous and baseless, added that it is an attempt by TI to cover up for its “biased and illogically cooked up 2019 Corruption Perception Index with poor rating of Nigeria”.
The organization, in the report recently released, did not only score Nigeria low in the fight against corruption, but went further to indict the AGF as interfering in the prosecution of some high cases such as the Malabu Oil case, former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and former Gombe State Governor Danjuma Goje.
The AGF, who spoke through the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Dr Umar Gwandu, said contrary to the claim of TI, he is not only committed to Buhari’s anti-corruption war but that he has been instrumental to the successes recorded by all anti-corruption agencies in the country.
“If the AGF had watered down corruption cases since he assumed office as maliciously claimed in the report, then all the convictions on corruption cases recorded by the EFCC would have been taken over and stopped by the AGF using his constitutional power of Nolle Prosequi.
“However, the AGF allowed the EFCC to thrive well due to his total commitment to the fight against corruption in line with the manifesto of President Muhammadu Buhari. The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has a historical record of going to the court personally and defending the nation in matters of public national interest including the cases of labour union crises and the processes of deepening democratic ideals in the country,” he stated.
Regarding the case of Malabu Oil, the AGF claimed that he has never at any time stopped any person or authority from prosecuting anyone suspected of crime.
“The AGF has unequivocally maintained that all persons indicted by the EFCC’s investigation report as regards the OPL 245 (Malabu) be prosecuted in accordance with the relevant laws.
“The AGF has, further, maintained that the investigation should be watertight and intensified to ensure that all essential elements of the alleged offences are established through a thorough and detailed investigation before proceeding to court with a view to filing success-driven charges against the suspects.
“It is common knowledge that since the EFCC filed charges against the suspects in Malabu Oil case before both the Federal and FCT High Courts, the AGF has not at any time approached either of the courts to withdraw the charges even though he has the power to do so pursuant to Section 174 of the Constitution.
“The assertion that the AGF misled the President that there is no case in the Malabu Oil deal is not only laughable but ridiculous and should therefore be disregarded by the right-thinking members of the general public,” the statement read.
The media aide further noted that the AGF is pursuing traces of crime in relation to Malabu OPL 245 in Switzerland and Netherlands, adding that the AGF remains resolute in looted assets recovery and the general fight against corruption.
“As regards the allegation that the AGF stopped the prosecution of former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for allegedly forging the Senate rules to conduct the election of principal officers of the Senate. It is important to state that for securing conviction on any crime, investigation must be done to be able to establish the essential ingredients of the offence.
“It is a fundamental principle of criminal justice administration in all climes that you do not file criminal charges where investigations have not revealed prima facie case against the suspects and Nigeria is not an exception.
“As to the allegation of withdrawal of the corruption case of N25 billion against former Gombe State Governor, Senator Danjuma Goje; the first point of correction is that the AGF did not withdraw a N25 billion case.
“The EFCC had filed a 2-count charge of N8 billion against Senator Goje and had been prosecuting same for over eight (8) years without the AGF’s interference but after a No Case Submission filed by Senator Goje, 19 of the 21 counts making up the N8 billion were struck out by the court leaving only two counts bordering on the manner in which the sale of some old buses belonging to Gombe State Transport Company between 2003 and 2011 were handled under the watch of Senator Goje.
“It was the said last two counts that the AGF thoroughly reviewed in 2019 and having found no prima facie case, withdrew in exercise of his constitutional power pursuant to Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution,” Gwandu stated.
He however said that notwithstanding the unfair rating of Nigeria by TI and the unguarded utterances of individuals who appeared to be a new voice of Nigeria opposition parties, the administration of President Buhari remains committed more than ever to the fight against corruption and other crimes in Nigeria.