President of Federal Government Nigeria, His Excellency Mohammed Buhari, who happens to the best thing that has happened to Nigeria as a nation in terms of fighting corruption. His track record when it has to do with anti-graft battle has surpassed that of all his predecessors. The new record of anti-graft war he has on the ground is doubted if any of his successors can beat it long after he is gone. This anti-corruption battle is an anti-graft war, proclaimed by Muhammadu Buhari, the 4th elected President of Nigeria. This is a battle against all shapes of fraud in Nigeria. During Mr President's election crusade in 2015, he swore to combat against corruption and insecurity if elected. Heretofore his election in April 2015, the anti-graft war remains one of his topmost prerogatives. The anti-graft battle as authorized by the President himself has attracted the attention of some heavyweight International bodies such as the UK and US, who have pledged fully and are committed to helping Nigeria increase its security, resilience, capacity and prosperity with maximum technical and investigative support to assist Nigeria tackle corruption. "William Kumuyi, the founder and general overseer of Deeper Christian Life Ministry distinguished Buhari's anti-graft war as a step in the right direction."
As they rightly said that "The Judiciary remains the final hope of all citizens high or low. Serving Senators and formal Senators, Ex Governors, Rtd Military and serving Military officers, occupants of high political positions and high financial officers, Captains of multimillion companies and Permanent Secretaries of different departments, layman and commoners have repeatedly found themselves in positions where they gazed for justice from impartial judges. Hence, only an independent judiciary will be able to give justice to all irrespective of their existing positions in the notches of power.
Therefore, the continual intensity on the need to facilitate a free and independent Judiciary is based on the firm principle that it will promote the Nigerians' freedom, curtail impunity and strengthen our democratic aspirations as a united Nigeria. But in this situation where the Judiciary sector is deemed highly corrupt by most Nigerians, with lots of corruption accusations hanging around its neck though being placed under checks and balances as provided by the Constitution yet the abuse of power by those appointed by Mr President to man this sacred temple of law is inevitable. Therefore, what do you think Mr President, Mohammed Buhari, the grand chief of arm forces of this great nation Nigeria should do in other to curb this menace? Would he fold hands and watch and stay mute? No! He will strike without mercy because Mr Buhari Nigerians know, has zero-tolerance to corruption not to talk of when the corruption indictment is pointed towards his own appointees. He did before in the likes of formal Nigeria's Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen who was convicted of falsely declaring his assets after failing to reveal the money he held in foreign bank accounts.
This was the first time in the history of Nigeria a chief justice in Nigeria has been put on trial and convicted. The ruling sent out a very powerful message that regardless of how high up you are, you are not untouchable. In the diary of Mr President, there is no sacred cow. That's the reason he rightly said during his swearing-in speech in 2015 that " I am for everybody and I am for nobody." He sees corruption as a national problem like every right-thinking Nigerian, who believes that it is holding the country's economic growth and development down and needs not to be handled with gloves. The president has pledged to fight corruption and was re-elected in into power achieve that purpose.
More than 15 million Nigerians voted Muhammadu Buhari as their president in 2019, close to the number that elected him in 2015, implying that four years in office have not diminished his interest to fight corruption. In 2019, Mr Buhari once again brandished his party's symbol "a broom" on the campaign mission which signifies, he has come to clean up and leave no stone unturned. As he did in the case of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, Supreme Court judge; two High Court judges Adeniyi Ademola and Rita Ofilli-Ajumogbia; National Judicial Council (NJC); Department of State Security (DSS); Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser and the rest of them. This time around, he guaranteed to take Nigeria to "the next level" and he will surely do it. He has set examples with the likes of Orji Uzor Kalu, a serving Senator. He never interferes the route of justice nor frustrates any investigation or probe. The recent was that of Magu, the EFCC Boss. Mr President made sure he was suspended and detained to allow an effective probe and investigation on allegations levelled against. Hence, if Mr President can order the probe of those men and woman mentioned above, the allegations levelled against Malami is so weighty that it will be seen as a premeditated act of oversight if he fails to authorize the probes of Malami in line with the accusations levelled against him. "All are free citizens and all are equal before the law." As he said.
Mr Buhari's personal reputation for incorruptibility has endured his time in office; a rare accomplishment among Nigerian leaders both past and present which prompted him to roll out an energetic anti-graft drive upon taking charge in May 2015.
The presidency believes the judiciary is thwarted by corrupt elements and that existing threat must not be allowed by his administration.
The suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has levelled multiple accusations of corruption against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, over recovered assets, calling on the presidential panel and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate the AGF.
Magu, who was arrested on Monday, July 6, 2020, by men of the Department of State Services (DSS) and faced the Ayo-Salami-led presidential probe panel over allegations of corruption, gross misconduct and re-looting of recovered assets running into billions of naira levelled against him by Malami however, has in a counter move, through his lawyers on Tuesday 14th of July 2020, said he would file corruption charges against Malami to the Presidential Probe Panel to investigate the AGF’s alleged illegal sales of assets recovered by the EFCC, asserting that The AGF Malami must step aside for an extensive investigation of the matter by the Probe Panel and ICPC. Also, Malami should allow the probe into the weighty allegations levelled against him, most especially on the sales of the stolen vessels. According to the EFCC Act, the AGF does not have the power to sell recovered assets,” Ojaomo said.
"He further explained that If a vessel is seized by the Nigerian Navy, the vessel is handed over to the EFCC for investigation and prosecution of the offenders. But, the AGF unilaterally, without any authorisation from the EFCC that is investigating the matter, who has the custody to those exhibits and those seized assets, granted approval for contractors to go and sell those properties." Hence, Malami admitted to authorizing the sale of oils assets confiscated by the EFCC, but he said the sale followed due process. Kabir Akingbolu, a human rights lawyer, had said the AGF risked five years in prison for “illegally” endorsing the auctioning of the seized vessels holding crude oil and diesel.
Another allegation is the one SaharaReporters published documents of bank accounts and bail bonds exhibiting how the MD's son, Imran Aliyu, was incarcerated for money laundering in the United Arab Emirates after his father fraudulently awarded an N2bn ICT contract to him.
However, it has now been discovered that the AGF is frustrating the probe of the fraud and has ordered security agencies to stop the investigation. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, the State Security Service and Nigeria Intelligence Financial Unit are all to halt investigating the fraud within NIRSAL, the AGF instructed.
In a letter to the Inspector-General of Police, Reference Number: DPPA/NIRSAL/110/20, dated February 4, 2020, and exclusively collected by SaharaReporters, the AGF, who wrote through the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mohammed U.E, said it was an "unhealthy competition" and "sheer waste of government resources" for agencies of government to probe the financial scandal of Mr Imran Aliyu and his son. To some Nigerians, AGF sounds so funny by saying that money spent by anti-graft agencies to investigate and conclude a crime of which the agencies are powered by the constitution to do is now termed waste of resources. What an irony?
The letter reads, "I am directed to inform you that we are in receipt of a petition from the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System For Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) Referenced NIR/MD/GEN/TAPD/24/20/03 and dated 29th January 2020 in respect of the above subject matter. A copy of the petition is hereby attached.
After a careful study of the petition, we found that NIRSAL is being investigated by several agencies to wit: the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the State Security Service (SSS) and Nigeria Intelligence Financial Unit (NIFU) in respect of the same subject-matter which is not only an unhealthy competition among the agencies of the same Federal Government of Nigeria but a sheer waste of government resources."
The ICPC further buttress the statements of EFCC that the AGF is frustrating the probe of the fraud and ordered the agency to stop the investigation that was carried out In October 2017, which the ICPC, on behalf of the federal government, filed a 17-count charge bordering on fraudulent mismanagement of Katsina State SURE-P fund against Messrs Ingawa, Shinkafi and Bindawa and arraigned them before Katsina State High Court 3.
However, on October 25, 2017, the Katsina State Attorney General, Ahmed El-Marzuqat
notified the court that the state government was taking over the prosecution of the accused persons from the ICPC. How on earth does the state acquire the power to take over a fraud investigated by the federal government agency?
"Justice El-Marzugat further informed the court that Malami had already given his office a fiat to take over the prosecution of the case. The ICPC lawyer told the court that the ICPC had already concluded the investigation and that the Commission had established prima facie cases against the accused and that handing it over to Katsina would jeopardise prosecution and negatively affect the fight against corruption. Also, the commission had enough evidence from its investigations to establish the culpability of the accused person. "
Mr Omohigbo further said it was improper for the Katsina State government that has a political interest in the matter to seek fiats to try the accused persons, who he described as politically exposed persons who jumped ship from their previous political party, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, to the ruling All Progressives Congress.
It is very certain that though, the powers of Minister of Justice within the ambit of the law is undisputed but when the exhibition of such powers are based on selfishness and self-interest, it becomes questionable which can be termed abuse of power and corruption. “In exercising his powers under the section of the law, the Attorney-General of the Federation shall have regard to the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process and if such is not observed, it is nothing but corruption.
"In taking over the case, the Katsina State government relied on a generic authorisation granted it by Malami to assume prosecutorial powers over federal offences committed within its jurisdiction.
All these gimmicks were orchestrated to allow the office AGF to have total control of the investigation and handle the case as suits him.
Malami, in a statement signed by Dr Umar Gwandu, his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations on Monday said the consequence of the criminal defamation published by Sahara Reporters, has subjected him to considerable distress, psychological trauma and anxiety. He said the publication has greatly injured his character and reputation, which is capable of lowering his estimation in the eyes of right-thinking persons in the society.
“Since the defamatory articles were published, I have been receiving several telephone calls and visits from well-meaning Nigerians, friends, well-wishers and associates from all over the world including those I have dealt with and am still dealing with in my official capacity as Nigeria’s Chief Law Officer, many of whom have expressed serious concerns over the publication”. Therefore, It is a very unfortunate incident that Nigerians have placed calls to the Justice Minister, questioning the recent twists on his reputation as alleged by SaharaReporters which the embattled suspended EFCC Boss has submitted some corruption allegations against him and demanded a probe on Malami.
Despite the allegations and evidence of corruption against Malami, Nigeria's Presidency is yet to issue a statement on the mind-boggling Revelations, when the evidence news of his corrupt acts had saturated the media and became the talk of the town. To most Nigerians, these are mere accusations on the Justice Minister until proven guilty by the court of competent jurisdiction but how would that happens, when he still occupies the high position as a chief law officer hence, for equity, justice and fairness to have their course, Mr President, Mohammed Buhari should authorize the suspension of Malami to pave way for proper investigation into the matter and uphold the true consciousness of Nigeria people. If such could be done to Magu, Onnoghen, Ofili, Ngwatu, Adeniyi, Dasuki, Uzor Kalu and the rest of them, then Malami should not be otherwise.
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