Nigeria’s Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, has flayed those who he claims wanted to frustrated the repatriation of $311million looted by late Head of State, Sani Abacha.
In a statement on Wednesday, Malami told such persons to “bury their heads in shame”.
The federal government on Monday, received the funds from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
The litigation process for the recovery of the loot, which is part of the $5billion allegedly stolen by Abacha, commenced in 2014.
Malami also fired at those who criticised his use of “Abacha assets” to describe the stolen funds.
“It is palpable that news about successful return of the looted assets have brought nightmares to naysayers and pessimists who wanted to frustrate the repatriation process through a campaign of calumny.
“They resorted to rhetoric instead of burying their heads in shame,” part of the statement read.
Former minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation Chief Abimbola Osuolale Richard Akinjide is Dead. The 88-year-old legal icon died in his Ibadan, Oyo State, home.
A family source said he died around 1 am. The Senior Advocate of Nigeria had been indisposed for about three years
According to a source close to the family, the remains of the legal luminary has been deposited at a morgue.
Born in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital in the early 1930s to an influential family of warriors, the late foremost lawyer and Ibadan high chief attended Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife from where he passed out in Grade One (Distinction, Aggregate 6).
He travelled to the United Kingdom in 1951 for his higher education and was called to the English Bar in 1955 and later to the Nigerian Bar. He established his law firm, Akinjide & Co soon after.
The frontline Yoruba leader was a Minister of Education in the first republic, during the government of Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa and Minister for Justice in the second republic, during the administration of President Shehu Shagari.
He was a member of the judicial systems sub-committee of the Constitutional Drafting Committee of 1975-1977 and later joined the National Party of Nigeria in 1978. He became the legal adviser for the party and was later appointed the Minister for Justice.
The late Akinjide also serves as a chieftain in the Olubadan of Ibadan’s court of clan nobles. As Attorney General, it was under his watch that Nigeria temporarily reversed executions of armed robbers. The Abolition of a decree barring exiles from returning to the country.
He was the lead prosecutor in the treason trial of Bukar Zanna Mandara. The eviction of many illegal foreign nationals from Nigeria which contributed to mild violence against some foreigners in the country. The event also exposed some weaknesses within the West African economic community.
He was a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic (PDP).
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Sunday, denied any involvement in the dethronement, banishment and detention of the dethroned Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi.
NobleReporters exclusively leanrt that Sanusi in his suit challenging his banishment from Kano State and detention in Awe, Nasarawa State, named Malami and the Attorney-General of Kano State, Ibrahim Muktar, as the ones who instructed the police and the Department of State Services to arrest and detain him after his dethronement.
Both Malami and Muktar are joined along with the Inspector-General Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the Director General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi, as codefendants.
Reacting in a short statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Gwandu, on Sunday, Malami said he “was not in any way connected with the dethronement of the former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II and his subsequent banishment to Nassarawa State.”
He added, “The issue of who does what over the dethronement saga has been effectively submitted for judicial determination. The matter is consequently sub judice.
“Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice will not comment one way or the other over a matter that is pending before the court.”
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, on March 9, deposed Sanusi because of what the state government called “total disrespect to lawful instructions from the office of the state government.”
The dethroned monarch was banished to Loko, a remote location in Nasarawa State.
On Tuesday, he was relocated to Awe, where he was detained in a guest house up till when Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court in Abuja ordered his release on Friday.
The judge gave the interim order following an ex parte application moved by Sanusi’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN).
Coronavirus cases soar to 154,620 globally
Justice Chikere also directed that the order she issued on Friday should be served alongside the main suit on all the four defendants.
It is expected that Malami and the other defendants would react to the allegations levelled against them in the suit.
The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, struck out charges of non-declaration of assets instituted against a former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, by the defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.
The dissolved panel then led by Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla had in 2018 instituted the case marked FHC/ABJ/CR/62/2018 against Ekweremadu, alleging that, “without reasonable excuse”, the serving senator refused and neglected to declare his assets upon being served the panel’s “notice to declare”.
The AGF office took over the case and other suits being handled by the SPIP upon a presidential directive dissolving the panel in 2019.
On Monday, Justice Binta Nyako struck out the case against Ekweremadu after the prosecuting counsel from the AGF office, Mr Pius Akutah, said the former lawyer handling the case for the panel had disappeared with the case file.
Akutah pleaded with the judge to order the former counsel to release the file to the AGF office but the request was declined by the judge.
But Ekweremadu’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), urged the judge to strike out the case.
Responding, Justice Nyako dismissed the prosecution’s request.
She said, “You are attorney general (referring to the lawyer as representing the AGF), you should know what to do.
“You should not be waiting for me to make an order against an individual.”
Justice Nyako added, “So, as it is today, you don’t know the case against the defendant since you don’t have the file. I am going to strike out the case, when you are ready you can come back.
“The case is hereby struck out for want of diligent prosecution. The prosecution is allowed to come back whenever they are ready to proceed with the case.”
NobleReporters heard that Ekweremadu was present in court and stood in the dock while the proceedings lasted on Monday.
The Attorneys-General and Justice Commissioners in the six states of the South West geo-political zone of Nigeria have concluded work on the draft bills for the region’s security outfit codenamed Amotekun.
Following the conclusion of the exercise, concerned states are expected to present the draft bill to their respective executive council for approval and then forward same to the house of assembly to be passed into law and subsequently signed by the six governors.
This disclosure was made after a meeting of the six Attorneys-General hosted by Prof Oyelowo Oyewo, a former Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos (UNILAG), at Davies Hotel, Old Bodija, Ibadan, which lasted for about three hours on Friday.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Oyewo, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said: “The meeting of the Attorneys-General of the six south west states just concluded and we deliberated on the plan to evolve a collaborative security network or agency in the South West.
“We have been able to come up with a legal framework to back up such establishment of security network in each of the states. So, each of the states will have its own legislation and its own security network corps that will bear the name Amotekun.
“There will be standard operational procedure that will also be in common and there will be an avenue for collaboration between the states to work together. It must be stated that the security network will be working in collaboration and as a complementary network with the police and the security agencies and armed forces.
A Senior Advocate, Oba Maduabuchi, has called on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) to direct the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) to stop payment of monthly allocations to councils without democratically elected chairmen.
Malami recently described the operation of caretaker committees at the local government level as illegal, unconstitutional and directed all affected state governments to disband them with immediate effect.
In a letter addressed to the Oyo State Attorney General, Prof. Oyewo Oyelewo and dated January 14, 2020, Malami described the caretaker committees as illegal and unconstitutional.
In addition, in the said letter with reference number HAGF/Oyo/2020/Vol.l/l, the AGF further stated that the Committees amount to a breach of the provisions of Section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
In a statement in Abuja, Maduabuchi said governors have developed a nauseating propensity for treating the 1999 constitution with levity.
He said Section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution guaranteed a system of democratically elected local government councils and urged the various governors to ensure their existence under a law which provides for their establishment, structures composition, finance and function.
“It is elementary knowledge that it is the same constitution that established the office of every state government and also that of the president. The same constitution also set up the three tiers of government all independent of each other unless as limited by the same constitution.
“But the first thing almost every governor does is to dissolve the local government councils as elected by the people and in their stead, appoint what is known as interim management to run these Councils.”
The senior lawyer observed that this virulent assault on our grundnorm (the constitution) has resulted to various litigations and the courts have all maintained that the governors did not have the vires to either dissolve the duly elected Local Government Chairmen or to appoint interim management committee in their stead.
The lawyer explained that the AGF “is both a person and authority within the contemplation of section 287 of the 1999 enjoined to enforce the judgments of the superior courts in Nigeria. He is the chief law officer of the federation and he has the power nay duty to ensure that the constitution is protected and obeyed.
Dr Umar Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations in the Office of the Minister disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
The Minister is expected to, on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, sign a tripartite agreement with Nigeria, the Island of New Jersey and the United States of America.
The agreement is for repatriation of 321m US dollars looted assets and as part of the Federal Government’s efforts to recover more stolen funds stashed abroad.
He said the meeting is an annual event between Nigeria and U.S.aimed at reviewing bilateral relations and taking necessary steps to advance mutual interest in all diplomatic areas among the two countries.
“The meeting is not an ad hoc event for addressing impromptu concerns, but a friendly binational meeting that holds annually devoid of intervening concerns or relating to the internal affairs of the participating states.”
Some other Nigerian government delegates expected to be part of the meeting include: the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd), Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) as well as Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development; Sadiya Umar Faruk.
An Abuja High Court sitting in Gwagwalada, yesterday, admitted to bail a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.
The trial judge, Justice Abubakar Idris Kutigi, also admitted Adoke’s co-defendants, Aliyu Abubakar and Rasky Gbinigie, to bail pending the determination of corruption allegations against them.
While it gave the 2nd defendant, Abubakar bail in the sum of N50 million, it granted the 3rd defendant, Gbinigie bail in the sum of N10 million.
The court ordered that the sureties must be responsible citizens that must depose affidavits of means.
Justice Idris further held that the sureties must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court and must own verifiable landed properties worth the bail sum.
The court further ordered the sureties to tender their three-year tax clearance certificates, even as it seized international passports of all the defendants, warning them not to travel out of the country without permission.
The court held that the defendants must sign a written undertaking not to interfere with any of the prosecution witnesses and to make themselves available for trial at all times.
The judge, however, warned that breach of any of the conditions would warrant automatic revocation of the defendants’ bail.
He consequently dismissed a counter-affidavit the EFCC filed to oppose the release of the defendants on bail.
In a related development, the court also issued a warrant for the arrest of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dauzia Loya (Dan) Etete and two others that were linked with the alleged $1.1 billion Malabu Oil scam.
Justice Kutigi issued the arrest warrant on the strength of an ex-parte application and affidavit the EFCC brought before the court.
Others the court said should be arrested are Munamuna Seidougha and Amaran Joseph.
EFCC had, through its counsel, Bala Sanga, told the court that the trio have been at large and had since refused to make themselves available for trial.
It alleged that the suspects have been residing in France and were occasionally sighted in different parts of Europe.
The anti-graft agency maintained that the order would enable it to collaborate with the International Police (Interpol) to ensure that they were arrested and extradited back to the country for prosecution.
The three suspects were mentioned as defendants in corruption charges pending before different courts.
They were accused of complicity in the alleged fraudulent transfer of ownership of Oil Prospecting License, OPL, 245, regarded as one of the biggest oil blocs in Africa.
The Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday struck out a N3bn fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by telecommunications firm, MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd, against the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke made the order following a resolution of a $2billion dispute between MTN and the Federal Government.
MTN had filed the suit to challenge an August 20, 2018 letter written to it by the AGF, demanding $2bn in alleged unremitted tax.
But the minister told the judge through his counsel Habibat Ajana that the AGF had reviewed the issue and withdrawn the demand letter via a January 8, 2020 letter to MTN.
MTN’s lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said having withdrawn demand letter, his client would drop its suit against the AGF.
Consequently, Justice Aneke struck out the suit.
In the suit, MTN had prayed the court to award N3bn against the AGF for rights infringement.
Olanipekun had argued that in writing the demand letter to MTN, Malami acted beyond his powers and violated the provisions of Section 36 of the Constitution on fair hearing with “the purported revenue assets investigation” he carried out on the firm’s activities covering 2007 to 2017.
The court had on May 8, 2019 ruling dismissed AGF’s preliminary objection to the suit.
Transparency International, the world’s foremost coalition against corruption, has said that Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), frustrated high-profiled cases since he assumed office in 2015 and has not been at the forefront of anti-corruption fight.
The organisation alleged that Malami had not prosecuted any corruption case in about five years he had been in office but had watered down cases that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was investigating or that were before the court.
TI’s representative in Nigeria, Mr Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, made the allegation in an interview with THISDAY while defending the 2019 Corruption Perception Index of the organisation, which measured corruption in 180 countries and territories.
The CPI, which the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, TI’s chapter in Nigeria, released on Thursday, revealed that Nigeria scored 26 out of 100 points in the 2019 CPI, falling back by one point when compared with the 2018 report.
In the country comparison, the CPI revealed that Nigeria “ranks 146 out of 180 countries – two places down compared to 2018 results. While the index does not show real incidences of corruption, it is a reliable indication of the perception of the Nigerian public and the international community about the state of corruption in the country.”
Disappointed at Nigeria’s rating on TI’s corruption index, Malami condemned the 2019 CPI that placed the country at 146 out of the 180 countries and territories globally, noting that there was no evidence to back the country’s rating.
In a statement by its acting spokesperson, Mr Tony Orilade, on Friday, the EFCC faulted Nigeria’s poor rating on the index, questioning the bogus and ambiguous criteria TI used to arrive at what it called “a jaundiced and illogical rating.”
But in a conversation with THISDAY, Rafsanjani challenged Malami to present one corruption case he had prosecuted since he assumed office in 2015, noting that the AGF in four years had not prosecuted any corruption case.
Rather, TI’s contact person alleged that the AGF watered down corruption cases that the EFCC had been investigating before Malami assumed office or the graft cases that had been filed at the court before he took over as the justice minister.
Citing different corruption cases the AGF allegedly frustrated, Rafsanjani explained how Malami prevailed on President Muhammadu Buhari to drop the Malabu oil scandal at the initial stage.
He said, “Malami misled the President that there was no case in the Malabu oil deal contrary to the position of the EFCC. That is why the case did not go on for a very long time. Until the EFCC insisted on prosecuting the case, the Malabu oil scandal has been swept under the carpet.”
He also explained how the AGF withdrew the corruption case against former Gombe State governor and a chieftain of All Progressives Congress, Danjuma Goje in 2019 after Goje stepped down to context the election of the President of the Senate.
He alleged that the AGF “applied for the withdrawal of the charges even though EFCC had filed N25bn corruption charges against Goje alongside a former Executive Chairman of Gombe State Universal Basic Education Board, Mr. Aliyu El-Nafaty.”
Rafsanjani, also, explained how Malami stopped the prosecution of former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki for allegedly forging the Senate rules to conduct the election of principal officers.
Since 2015 the attorney general had been in office, Rafsanjani claimed that he “has not gone to court to prosecute any corruption case. Rather, he has watered down corruption charges in courts or those under investigation at the EFCC.
“Rather than dismissing the TI’s corruption index, the federal government should review areas where we need to improve on the efforts of fighting corruption,” TI’s representative advised.
He, therefore, justified the corruption perception index on Nigeria, noting that it “is the perception of citizens in Nigeria. This has nothing to do with what EFCC or ICPC is doing.”
In Nigeria, Rafsanjani lamented that public offices “are abused and electoral processes at all level compromised. When they go to hospital, they encounter corruption. When they go to police either on the road or at the police station, they encounter corruption.
“When students are seeking placements in the tertiary institutions nationwide, they encounter corruption. When they go to process international passport or driver’s licence, they encounter corruption. This has nothing to do with what EFCC or ICPC is doing.”
Rafsanjani lamented that the critics of the 2019 CPI did not read the report, noting that in the same index, specifically, the ratings of Canada and the US dropped.
He therefore challenged critics of the 2019 CPI to come out and present facts that contradict the Corruption Perception Index on Nigeria.
He said, “In fact, government does not need Transparency International to know there is corruption in Nigeria.
“It is something that is happening on daily basis. If they are saying there is no corruption, let them come out and contradict the CPI with facts and figures. Any official that dismisses the CPI is actually the beneficiary of corruption. It is the perception of citizens in Nigeria.”
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, says he never declared the ‘Operation Amotekun’, the South-West regional security outfit, as an illegal body.
Malami, while responding to a question during a chat on Radio Nigeria Abuja on Thursday, January 23, 2020, noted that he was misquoted on Amotekun.
“I was misinterpreted on Operation Amotekun, I did not say it’s illegal,” Malami announced.
“I said the Operation Amotekun should be properly backed by law, so if at the end of this government, if the operation has been backed by law, any government that eventually succeeded this government would not rubbish the operation.
“I said if they failed to enact a law in support of Amotekun in the South-West region of Nigeria, another government can come and say it’s illegal and this is because it is not backed up by any law.
“So, it is just a piece of advice to the state governors to use their power and the State Houses of Assembly in their various states to enact a law that will make the operation more effective,” he added.
Operation Amotekun was established to help tackle the rising security challenges in the South-West region.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) has insisted that the South-West Security Network code-named Amotekun is illegal.
Malami insisted on his earlier position that any security outfit not supported by extant laws remained illegal.
According to a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Gwandu on Thursday, January 23, 2020, the minister once again declared Operation Amotekun illegal during a Radio Nigeria programme “Nationwide Politics.”
Malami argued that the right thing to do is to ensure the constitutionality of the security outfit.
He said, “The planning, execution, consummation of whatever security arrangement must be naturally grounded in law, rooted in the constitution and tolerated by the law.
“For any arrangement to stand within the law, the bottom line is that constitutionality and legality must be factored.
“Provided that there is an aberration relating to constitutional compliance, I think the right thing to do is to ensure constitutionality and legality both in spirit, planning, concept, and consummation.
“If you are talking of regional arrangement, for example, at what point did the state assemblies come together as a region for the purpose of coming up with a statue or a law that can operate within the context of the Constitution taking into consideration the Federating arrangement that does not allow or tolerate a regional state House of Assembly arrangement.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government and south-west governors have finally reached an agreement at a meeting in Abuja on Thursday, January 23, 2020, on Operation Amotekun.
At the end of the meeting, Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu told State House Correspondents that they have agreed to draw up a legal framework for Amotekun.
The arraignment of former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke was on Wednesday, stalled at the FCT High Court in Gwagwalada over confusion from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) the prosecuting agency.
The EFCC’s counsel, Bala Sanga told the court that he did not know why he was in court.
“My Lord, we have not served the charge on the first, second and third defendant, we have only served the fifth, sixth and seventh defendants.
“I’m at a loss as to why we are here (in court)’’, Sanga said.
The prosecutor further told the court that the second defendant, Aliyu Abubakar was on the run and the commission had to set up a 24-hour manhunt for him.
He added that the commission had intended to arraign all the seven defendants on Jan. 24 after effecting service on all of them.
“I am shocked as to why it came up today but subject to the convenience of the court, I ask for a short adjournment to enable us serve them.”
Responding, counsel to Adoke, Mr Paul Erokoro, (SAN) confirmed that his client was yet to be served.
Erokoro, however, told the court that they were willing to waive service and proceed with the matter.
“It is true that the charge has not been handed to us, but we consider ourselves served and so we waive service and are ready to go on with the arraignment.
Moreover, the lawyer said that by virtue of Section 136 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA), service was not necessary.
For his part, Mr Wole Olanipekun, (SAN), counsel to the second defendant, insisted that his client had been served.
Olanipekun also countered the argument of the prosecutor, saying that his client had not been on the run and that in fact, his client was represented in court.
Mr Mahmud Magaji, (SAN), counsel to the third defendant, Rasky Gbinigie wondered why the anti-graft agency failed to serve the charge on his client who had been in their custody.
A representative of the fourth defendant, Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd, however told the court that his client had yet to be served and that the counsel representing the fourth defendant was not in court.
The trial judge, Justice Abubakar Kutigi, however, insisted that the law provided for every defendant to be served before plea would be taken.
He directed the prosecutor to serve the charge on all parties and also directed that all bail applications be served on all parties.
The judge adjourned the matter until Jan. 23 for arraignment.
The immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) will this afternoon be arraigned on fraud charges by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Already, Adoke has been brought to the Gwagwalada division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, for his arraignment before Justice Idris Kutigi.
Dressed in a white caftan with a cap to match, Adoke who was clutching a walking stick appeared pale as he stepped out of the bus that conveyed him to court.
While in the courtroom, the former AGF exchanged pleasantries with some senior lawyers in court, including Wole Olanikpekun (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Solomon Umoh (SAN); Olalekan Ojo (SAN), Paul Erokoro (SAN) and A.U. Mustapha (SAN).
The Federal Government has filed a fresh 42-count charge against former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke and six others over alleged fraud in the $1.1 billion Malabu oil deal.
Adoke is being charged alongside Rasky Gbinigie, A. Abubakar, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Ultra Deep Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Limited.
The Federal Government, in a document with charge number CR/151/2020 dated Jan. 14 and filed on Jan. 15, at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, accused Adoke and others of receiving gratification to allegedly carry out a fraudulent oil deal.
According to the FG, as Attorney-General, Adoke mediated controversial agreements that ceded OPL 245 to Shell and Eni who in turn paid about $1.1 billion dollars to accounts controlled by former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete.
Etete, now at large, was a former Petroleum Minister under the regime of General Sani Abacha.
N.Rs also learnt that Adoke, since he left the country after the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, returned into the country on Dec. 19, 2019 from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and was arrested by the operatives of the EFCC at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
He is being charged by the anti-graft agency on alleged abuse of office and money laundering in respect of the granting of the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to Shell and ENI.
According to the charge, the former AGF in August 2013 in Abuja while serving as a minister knowingly received United State Dollars equivalent of N300million which is reasonably suspected of having been unlawfully obtained and thereby committed offence punishable under Section 319A of the Penal Code, Cap. 532laws of the federation of Nigeria 1990.
The suit, signed by Bala Sanga on behalf of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, further said that one of the accused persons, Rasky Gbinigie conspired with Munamuna Seidougha (at large), Amaran Joseph (at large) and Dauzia Loya Etete (at large), sometime in 2013, in Abuja, dishonestly used as genuine the forged form CAC 7 and Board Resolution of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and the letter of resignation of one Mohammed Sani to open a Bank Account No. 2018288005 with First Bank of Nigeria Plc to receive the sum of $401. 5 million.
According to the charge, the accused persons committed an offence contrary to section 366 of the Penal Code and punishable under the same section of the Penal Code.
In count seven, Adoke was said to have in September 2013 knowingly and unlawfully obtained the sum of US dollars equivalent to N367,318,800 and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 319A of the Penal Code, Cap.532 laws of the federation of Nigeria, 1990.
In the charge, Gbinigie, the company secretary of Malabu oil was said to have made false resignation letter signed by one Alhaji Hassan Hindu as having resigned from the Board of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited with intent to commit fraud.
Some of the charges, among others, read: “That you, Mohammed Bello Adoke, being a public servant at the material time, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice of the Government of Nigeria, sometime in
August 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court was in possession and custody of the sum of N300m reasonably suspected to have been unlawfully obtained and thereby committed an offence an offence under section 319A of the Penal Code and punishable under the same section of the Penal Code.
“That you, Mohammed Bello Adoke, being a public servant at the material time, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice of the Government of Nigeria, sometime in 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, accepted for yourself without consideration, the sum of N300m to broker the negotiation and signing of the Block 245 Resolution Agreement with Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited and thereby committed an offence under section 119 of the Penal Code and Punishable under the same section of the Penal Code.”
Governor Seyi Makinde has reacted to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami’s (SAN) declaration of Amotekun which is a South West security outfit ‘illegal’.
Speaking in Ogun during a visit to former president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday January 14, the Oyo State Governor insisted that the AGF does not have the power to label the regional security outfit illegal.
Governor Makinde also stated that Abubakar Malami is yet to officially communicate the stance of the Federal Government on Amotekun.
“My personal position is that you actually don’t run government on the social media. If I see a letter or if I get a call from the Attorney-General of the Federation telling me what you just said, then it would be a different fact of reaction.
“So, I’ve been reading just like you read on the social media; I haven’t seen anything official to that effect. And besides, I don’t think for a country like Nigeria, the Attorney-General will just wake up and make his own laws.
“He may interpret and advise the President if there are legal issues, but I haven’t seen anything that gave that power to the Attorney General to make such declaration.”
Makinde who revealed that the security outfit will bridge the existing gaps in security in the six South-West states, added that it will complement the police and other security agencies.
The Oyo Governor said;
“I did say that this outfit is complementary to the Nigerian police and other security agencies. In Oyo State, the government is being placed on four major pillars: education, health, security and expansion of our economy through agri-business.
“So, security is a major pillar for us and we believe you cannot have any development in an atmosphere that is not secure. If you look at investments, money coming into an economy, such money is a coward. If such money sees anywhere that is not secured, they would fly and run away. So, security is key.
“The security agencies are doing their best, but there are still gaps. Just like in most sectors of our body polity, we do have gaps in education, in healthcare delivery. So, in security also, there are gaps and we believe that playing complementary roles will also help to narrow those gaps.”
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said the law forbids the Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami from proscribing any group in the country.
“The Attorney General of the Federation, Malami SAN, has no power whatsoever to proscribe any organisation in Nigeria,” the activist and human right lawyer said during an interview on Politics Today, a Channels TV programme.
Falana was reacting to the statement of the Minister of Justice who on Tuesday declared the new Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed Amotekun as illegal.
Falana attributed the statement credited to Malami as diversionary and hypocritical considering the existence of security groups in the northern part of the country, which the minister has not pronounced as illegal .
“In this case, the statement credited to the Attorney General of the Federation is clearly diversionary and hypocritical. Hypocritical in the sense that the governments of Kano and Zamfara states have set up Hisbah Commission. Just recently, the Hisbah operatives in Zamfara State arrested a police officer caught in the midst of three women.”
Falana cited several other instances of paramilitary groups recognised by the government including the recent neighbourhood watch set up by the Lagos State government, adding that the Federal Government had to approach the court before it could proscribe the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).
He said the minister should have advised the government appropriately, stressing that while Malami occupies the position of an attorney general, the concerned states also have their independent attorneys- general.
Falana, however, advised the South West state governors to ask their respective State Houses of Assembly to enact laws to back up the initiative.
He said such law should spell out operational models of Amotekun, the funding strategies as well as areas of partnership with the Nigerian police.
Since the release of Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki from illegal custody on December 24, 2019, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), has put himself under undue pressure.
In the process, he has embarrassed the executive and exposed the judiciary to ridicule.
After announcing that he had directed the State Security Service to release Sowore and Dasuki from custody in compliance with the court orders that had granted them bail, the Justice Minister turned round to say that the release was an act of compassion and mercy on the part of the executive.
I was compelled to challenge the claim of the Justice Minister as he lacks the power to release any person standing trial on compassionate grounds by virtue of section 175 of the constitution.
After he had rightly abandoned that dangerous legal route, Mr Malami has since asserted that Nigerian Government was right to have detained Sowore and Dasuki in defiance of the court orders which had admitted them to bail. In support of the outlandish contention, the Justice Minister said that the government was not bound to obey the court orders until the final determination of the appeals filed against the court orders.
In an interview aired on NTA last Thursday, the Justice Minister said, “There were appeals (sic) for stay of execution all through.
“So, until those matters reach the Supreme Court and the apex court takes the final decision, relating there, you are still operating within the ambit and context of rule of law… So, in respect of those orders, we are not comfortable with as a government, we go back to the court and have them challenged. Until that matter, that your right of challenge, is determined up to the Supreme Court level, the idea of you being charged with disobedience of court order does not arise.”
With respect, the minister’s statement is factually and legally erroneous in every material particular. If the Justice Minister has had time to review Sowore’s case file, which he had withdrawn from the State Security Service, he would have confirmed that no appeal was filed against the two decisions of the Federal High Court, which admitted him and his co-defendant, Mr Olawale Bakare, to bail. Instead of challenging the orders granting bail to Sowore and Bakare at the Court of Appeal, the State Security Service had actually attempted to constitute itself into an appellate court over the Federal High Court by insisting on approving the sureties that had been verified by the trial court.
As defence counsel, we rejected the illegal request to produce the sureties before the Director-General of the State Security Service until Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu gave him a 24-hour ultimatum to release the duo from illegal custody.
It is on record that Dasuki was granted bail at different times by six judges of the Federal High Court and the Federal Capital Territory High Court.
It is pertinent to note that the Nigerian Government did not file an appeal against any of the six court orders. In fact, the first bail application of Dasuki was not opposed by Mohammed Diri Esq., who was the then Director of Public Prosecutions from the chambers of the Attorney-General of the Federation. Hence, Dasuki was admitted to bail in self recognisance on August 30, 2015. Having not opposed the bail application, government could not have filed any appeal against the order of the court.
Apparently frustrated with the contemptuous conduct of the Nigerian Government, Dasuki approached the ECOWAS Court for redress. In a landmark judgment delivered on October 4, 2018, the ECOWAS court indicted Nigeria and awarded N15m damages in favour of Dasuki for his detention in defiance of the orders of Nigerian courts. According to the judges of the court, “It appears that the sole aim of the re-arrest is to circumvent the grant of bail and by keeping the applicant in custody through executive fiat unsupported by any law or order of court.”
On the allegation that Dasuki was facing a serious charge of the criminal diversion of the sum of $2.1bn for purchase of arms, the ECOWAS Court said that, “For the avoidance of doubt, any persons, who have violated the criminal laws of a state especially the ones impeding the development of the state and destruction of its commonwealth are liable to be tried and if found guilty should face the consequences of their action(s). However, in doing so, states must respect all international obligations with regard to due process and respect for fundamental rights of the suspects. Failure to do so will impute responsibility to the state regarding such violations of rights while leaving intact their right to prosecute and punish offences against their criminal laws.”
It is submitted that the Nigerian Government could not have filed an appeal against the judgment because the ECOWAS Court is a judicial tribunal of first and last resort, without any right of appeal.
However, after the judgment of ECOWAS Court, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court had cause to admit Dasuki to another bail but asked each of his two sureties to deposit N100m with the court. The government did not file an appeal against the ruling but Dasuki did as he was completely dissatisfied with the suffocating conditions attached to his bail. The appeal was decided in Dasuki’s favour as the bail conditions were varied in liberal terms by the Court of Appeal. The Nigerian Government never approached the Supreme Court to challenge any aspect of the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
In the same vein, the government did not file any appeal against any of the orders of the high courts, which had admitted Sowore and Dasuki to bail. Consequently, no motion was ever filed for stay of execution of any of the court orders. Since no notice of appeal or motion for stay of execution was ever filed by the government against the orders of bail for Sowore and Dasuki, the Justice Minister ought to tender a public apology for misleading the Nigerian people.
However, if the Justice Minister can produce any notice of appeal or motion for stay of execution in respect of the two cases, I will publicly apologise to him for misleading the Nigerian people.
From the foregoing, it is undoubtedly clear that the two orders of the Federal High Court admitting Sowore to bail were treated with contempt while the eight orders of the Federal High Court, Federal Capital Territory High Court, ECOWAS Court and the Court of Appeal, which admitted Dasuki to bail were ignored by the Nigerian Government based on erroneous legal advice.
A couple of weeks ago, I had reminded the Justice Minister of the fact that as a military dictator, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari had complied with court orders by releasing 13 political detainees from the illegal custody of the notorious National Security Organisation (now State Security Service) based on the legal advice of his Attorney-General, the late Chief Chike Offodile (SAN).
Even under the dreaded Sani Abacha junta, the law was not totally silent. Hence, when I was detained in 1996 under the State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree No 2 of 1984 at the Mawadachi Prison in Jigawa State, the Federal High Court granted an order permitting my wife to visit me. And upon the service of the order on the government, the then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, the late Chief Michael Agbamuche (SAN), advised the prison authority to comply with the court order. At about the same time, Mr Agbamuche equally advised the Abacha junta to comply with the order of the Court of Appeal permitting the wife and personal physician of the Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) to visit him in the Bauchi Prison. It is on record that the Abacha junta complied with both court orders in line with the advice of the Justice Minister.
Therefore, if the court orders issued in favour of the opponents of military dictators were respected under the defunct military regime, it is unacceptable for a democratically elected government, which operates under the rule of law to ignore the orders of municipal and regional courts for the release of political detainees and criminal suspects from illegal custody.
In as much as the eventual release of Sowore and Dasuki is appreciated, it ought to be pointed out that this is a mere tip of the iceberg. If the Nigerian Government has genuinely decided to embrace the rule of law, it has to comply with all valid and subsisting court orders and respect the human rights of the Nigerian people. As a matter of urgency, the Justice Minister should direct the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Correctional Service, State Security Service, armed forces, anti-graft agencies and other law enforcement agencies to either release or prosecute the thousands of criminal suspects including terror suspects that have been incarcerated for months without trial. The detaining authorities should also be prohibited from parading suspects and subjecting them to physical and mental torture in contravention of the provisions of section 2 of the Anti Torture Act, 2017.
Furthermore, the Council of the National Human Rights Commission, which was dissolved in 2015 should be reconstituted by the President on the recommendation of the Justice Minister. In June last year, President Buhari directed the office of the Attorney -General, the Inspector-General of Police and the National Human Rights Commission to carry out the reforms of the Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Police within three months. It is high time the directive was carried out. The Georgewill Judicial commission of Inquiry, which investigated human rights abuses in the armed forces submitted its report in February 2018. The government should issue a white paper on the report forthwith. The Garba Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the military invasion of Zaria in December 2015 recommended the prosecution of the military officers, who massacred 347 Shiites and buried their bodies in a mass grave. The indicted suspects should be charged with culpable homicide at the Kaduna State High Court without any further delay.
Owing to the refusal of the Nigerian Government to act on these reports by prosecuting those, who bear full responsibility for such eggregious human rights infringements, the office of the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has concluded arrangements to open preliminary investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity concerning the extrajudicial killings of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, and Indigenous People of Biafra. It is hoped that the government will not allow Nigeria to be exposed to international opprobrium for her unwillingness and inability to prosecute the indicted murder suspects.
Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Olusegun Runsewe has reacted to report of being indicted in the recently released National Audit Report from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation ( AGF).
While the audit report indicted the NCAC and its Director- General of financial irregularities in contract awards and payments, Runsewe insisted that the audit report dwelt majorly on the activities of the agency before he was appointed in 2017.
The statement released by Runsewe’s media aide, Mr Frank Meke reads in part;
”The reports actually looked at the activities of the agency when I was not there.
” I think there is a misconception about what that report is all about, which looked at the books of the agency between 2015 and 2016 when I was not there.
”I have explained that there is the need to be careful when journalists go through such sensitive reports and may wish to publish its findings.
“Rushing to the press without taking time to look at the various angles will possibly leave innocent people highly misunderstood or hurt.
” The call to service to our fatherland comes with a lot of challenges, with a lot of people thinking on how to bring others down.
” There are also those who are uncomfortable with the changes to which NCAC has brought about to Nigeria’s cultural and tourism revival.
” So certain efforts such as this normal report of agencies’ activities and not just NCAC alone, should not be blown out of proportion.”
Runsewe also stated that the audit report he claimed was sent to the press to malign him won’t distract or cause him to lose sleep over listed cultural activities scheduled to take place in 2020.
Justice A. O. Musa of Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, January 2nd granted the application of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to keep the former attorney general and minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke in its custody for additional 14 days preparatory to his arraignment.
In granting the application, the judge stated that “the extension of the remand of the respondent for another 14 days for the purpose of his arraignment in court is necessary and granted as prayed.”
The Commission took custody of Adoke on December 19, 2019, upon his arrival from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation has said the federal government was right in detaining Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki despite court orders for their release.
Malami said this on Thursday, January 2nd when he appeared on NTA programme.
Sowore, convener of the Revolution Now movement, and Dasuki, former national security adviser (NSA), were held by the Department of State Services (DSS) long after several court orders were issued for their release.
Speaking during the programme, Malami, who later asked the DSS to release both men, said the government never erred in holding them despite the court orders. He said the government has the right to still detain Sowore and Dasuki until an appeal against the orders is determined by the supreme court.
“If a decision is made, or a judgement is passed, you have an option: one, absolute and unconditional compliance; two, challenge to the order by way of either an appeal against it; or asking that the order be reviewed or appealing and applying for stay of execution,” he said.
“So, in respect of those orders we are not comfortable with as a government, we go back to the court and have them challenged. Until that matter, that your right of challenge, is determined up to the supreme court level, the idea of you being charged with disobedience of court order does not arise.”
Asked if the government applied for variation of the court orders against Sowore and Dasuki, the minister said there were applications to set aside the orders.
“There were appeals for stay of execution all through. So, until those matters reach the supreme court and the supreme court takes the final decision, relating there, you are still operating within the ambit and context of rule of law” he added.
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has written a letter to the Attorney-General of the federation and justice minister, Abubakar Malami, over the detention of Shiites leader, El-Zakzaky and his wife.
Read the full letter below..
Dear Honourable Justice Minister,
Request for compliance with court orders in favour of Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and Hajia Zeinat El-Zakzaky
We are solicitors to Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and Hajia Zeinat El-Zakzaky (hereinafter referred to as “our clients”) on whose behalf we write this letter.
In view of the recent decision of the Federal Government to comply with all court orders, we have the instructions of our clients to request you to ensure compliance with the valid and subsisting orders of the Federal High Court and Kaduna State High Court concerning them which are set out hereunder:
1. On December 2, 2016, the Federal High Court presided over by the Honourable Justice G. O. Kolawole (now of the Court of Appeal) declared illegal and unconstitutional the arrest and detention of Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Hajia Zeinat El-Zakzaky by armed soldiers.
2. Consequently, the court awarded them N50m damages for their illegal detention, ordered the state security service to release them from custody forthwith and provide them with a house since the Nigerian Army had burnt down and demolished their house in Zaria, Kaduna State.
3. Without any legal basis whatsoever the Federal Government refused to comply with the aforesaid court orders. Curiously, the contemptuous acts of the Federal Government were publicly defended by your good self and some other high ranking officials of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. The reasons adduced for non-compliance with the said court orders include the following:
i. On January 3, 2017, the Federal Government filed an appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court for the release of our clients. No motion was filed for stay of execution of any of the orders of the court. However, the motion of the Federal Government for extension of time to file the appellant’s brief out of time was not taken on the grounds that a contemnor could seek any relief from an appellate court.
ii. On January 19, 2017, the Federal Government claimed that Mrs Zeinat El-Zakzaky was not in detention but decided to keep her husband’s company.
iii. On January 20, 2017, sources close to the Presidency were alleged to have said that our clients could not be released on grounds of national security.
iv. On June 16, 2017, the Honourable Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, explained that the reason why our clients had not been released was that the house being built for them by the Federal Government had not been completed.
4. In a desperate bid to stop the Shiites from further embarrassing the Federal Government by demanding compliance with the court orders for the release of their leader, government caused the Kaduna State Government to charge our clients with incitement of members of the Shia movement to commit culpable homicide, blocking of roads and leading an unregistered organisation to wit: Islamic Movement in Nigeria.
5. As you are no doubt aware, the over 300 Shiites alleged to have been procured by our clients to commit the said criminal offences have been discharged by the Magistrate Court and High Court of Kaduna State for want of evidence.
6. However, by an order made on August 5, 2019, the Kaduna State High Court granted our clients leave to travel to India for urgent medical treatment subject to the supervision of the respondent i.e the Kaduna State Government. But instead of allowing the hospital to treat our clients under the supervision of the Kaduna State Government, the Federal Government took over the medical treatment, imposed doctors on our clients and denied them access to their personal physician who had accompanied them from Nigeria. Thus, our clients were deliberately denied access to medical treatment in defiance of the order of the Kaduna State High Court.
7. Since our clients were brought back from India they were kept incommunicado until they were transferred to the Kaduna Correctional Centre last month. In spite of several assurances, authorities of the correctional centre have denied our clients access to any form of medical treatment.
8. Notwithstanding the pending criminal case in the Kaduna State High Court, your office and the Presidency have not ceased to justify the refusal of the Federal Government to comply with the orders of the Federal High Court and the Kaduna State High Court. The statements made by your good self and other officials are set out below:
i. On July 23, 2019, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government refused to obey Justice Gabriel Kolawole’s order on the release of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, because it had appealed the ruling.
ii. On July 26, 2019, during your screening for reappointment as the Attorney-General of the Federation, you told the Senate that the disobedience of court orders by the Buhari administration in respect of El-Zakzaky and others was based on national security.
iii. When the street protests by the Shiites to demand the release of their leader did not stop, the Federal Government announced the proscription of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria on July 27, 2019. The proscription was sequel to an ex parte order secured from the Federal High Court by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
iv. In justifying the decision of the Federal Government to detain Messrs Sowore and Bakare in defiance of the orders of the Federal High Court, the State Security Service issued a statement on November 14, 2019 wherein it claimed that the duo as well as El-Zakzaky and Dasuki were enjoying themselves in custody as “they are allowed access to people and use of other facilities like telephones, gymnasium, TV, newspapers and medical facilities”.
However, following the release of Mr Omoyele Sowore and Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) from illegal custody last week, you were reported to have said that our clients could only be released by the Kaduna State Government. With respect, your position has failed to take cognisance of the fact that your office, the Presidency and the State Security Service had up till last month, repeatedly given contradictory reasons to justify the disobedience of the aforesaid court orders for the release of our clients.
In view of the foregoing, we urge you to use your good office to review your position and ensure the immediate and unconditional compliance with the valid and subsisting orders of the Federal High Court and the Kaduna State High Court concerning our clients. This request is in line with the new policy of the Buhari administration to operate under the rule of law.
While wishing you a challenging legal year, please accept, as usual, the assurance of our highest professional regards.