The human rights group alleged the minister unambiguously displayed elements and character of tribal and religious loyalties to his primordial..
An idea muted by Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), that ‘pastoralism commission’ be established as solution to incessant invasion of farmlands and communities across the country by armed Fulani herdsmen has been described as diversionary and highly irresponsible, irrational and misplaced.
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), who criticised the idea, lamented that Malami could make such a call for herders who destroy farm produce and kill farmers as consequences of bitter discord arising from their destructive actions.
HURIWA recalled that Malami had on Tuesday called for establishment of the commission even as he called for a community-oriented approach in diffusing and eliminating the menace of the herders that has retarded economic development and created widespread insecurity.
Malami, who was speaking as a special guest of honour at the Peace, Unity, and Security Lecture Series 2021 held at the ECOWAS main auditorium, Abuja, where he was represented by his Media Aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu, said for peaceful coexistence in the country, there was need for strict adherence to the rule of law, respecting the sanctity of the fundamental human rights in all ramifications.
HURIWA quoted the minister recommended setting up of regulated grazing reserves to replace the “Burtali” or “Hurumi” pastoral system as well as intensive enlightenment to livestock breeders on the need for sedentary farming and transhumance agriculture as a complementary economic process to nomadic farming.
HURIWA, however, strongly disagreed with Malami whom it accused of refusing to prosecute or ensure that all the terrorists and armed Fulani herdsmen who were accused of destroying farms of communities are prosecuted and punished since 2015.
The human rights group alleged the minister unambiguously displayed elements and character of tribal and religious loyalties to his primordial and ethnoreligious affinities as a Fulani-born lawyer and politician rather than to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, the group said “the minister is simply chasing shadows and attempting to deceive Nigerians by veering off into the arena of embarking on a wild voyage of discovery as shown by his suggestion for setting up of a pastoralists commission as a solution to the terrorism of armed Fulani herdsmen instead of enforcing the laws of Nigeria to punish persons who wield several weapons of mass destruction and have unleashed bloody violence all around the country, including Benue, Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Enugu and parts of Imo State.”
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has denied the allegation of conspiring to witch-hunt anyone.
Malami’s Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Gwandu, faulted the claim in a statement on Monday.
He was reacting to the comments made by a lawyer, Victor Giwa, who claimed that the minister ordered his arrest because he refused to implicate Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Giwa made the allegation in a statement on Sunday entitled, ‘Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) Is Using Donald Wokoma, My Erstwhile Client Against Me For My Refusal To Testify And Indict Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of EFCC, At The Justice Ayo Salami Panel Investigating The EFCC Boss’.
He explained that he was invited by the Justice Ayo Salami led panel, which is investigating the corruption allegations against the suspended EFCC boss, on August 18 and 19.
The lawyer, among many other claims, said he was asked to testify against Magu through an alleged conspiracy between the AGF and Donald Wokoma, a former special adviser to the Vice President whom he said he represented and secured a judgement in his favour.
But Gwandu described the allegation against the minister as ‘flimsy’, stressing that they were untrue.
According to him, Malami never met with Giwa and has never discussed any issue with Wokoma, nor asked anybody, personally or by proxy, to engage Giwa to testify against Magu.
The minister’s spokesman insisted that Malami, who did not set up the investigation panel to probe the suspended EFCC boss, was not saddled with any responsibility to procure witnesses for the panel.
“The Attorney-General of the Federation is never a member of the panel nor does it fall within the realm of the AGF’s authority to invite witness(es) for a presidential probe panel.
“The claim by Victor Giwa, Esq is therefore fictitious, unfounded and a figment of the imagination of mischief-makers who want to create unnecessary attention and tarnish the good image of the Attorney-general of the Federation and Minister of Justice and labouring incessantly these days, to falsely cast aspersion on the AGF’s hard-earned reputation,” Gwandu stated.
He, however, challenged Giwa to come and substantiate his allegation with details of when he met with the AGF on the issue, where they met, and how the meeting went.
Gwandu also asked the lawyer to answer whether the minister met him in person or sent a representative, in what capacity was the representative if there was any, and what the terms of their engagement were.
He asked Giwa to reveal what the purported offer to testify against Magu was, how it was made, as well as to name who the witnesses were.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has written to President Muhammadu Buhari, denying the allegations of corruption levelled against him.
This follows a call from a coalition of Civil Society Organisations asking President Buhari to probe the AGF over 14 high-profile corruption cases and calling for his resignation.
The allegations levelled against Malami, by the CSOs include “financial fraud” and “influence peddling”, as well as “illegally” auctioning sea vessels holding crude oil seized by the Federal Government.
But the minister wrote to the presidency, insisting that he had declared all his assets and statements of accounts upon his assumption of office.
He writes, “Since my appointment as a Minister in your cabinet, I have conducted myself strictly within the confines of the Code of Conduct for public officers contained in part 1 of the fifth schedule of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended.”
“It is to be noted that apart from my successful legal practice of more than 20 years, seven of which were as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), before my appointment, I have as allowed by law had interests in business ventures, all of which I had resigned from active participation upon my appointment,” he added.
Also in the letter, the Minister said he has also decided to seek redress in court.
The Minister has been accused of being behind the ordeals of the former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, after criticising some of his actions.
Magu, who was quizzed by the Department of State Services (DSS) on July 6, was made to appear before a panel of the Federal Government set up to investigate the allegations of corruption levelled against him.
The panel led by the retired President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami grilled Magu for about 10 days before granting him bail on July 15.
Following Magu’s reported arrest, many Nigerians and groups reacted to the development, with some commending the Federal Government’s approach to the war against corruption.
Although Magu denied any wrongdoing, a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Femi Odekunle said the DSS invitation is a power play by blocs in the corridor of power.
According to the PACAC member, Magu was only invited for questioning regarding some purported memo by the Minister of Justice.
He explained that the Presidential Advisory Committee perceives Malami as the arrowhead of the bloc that is not really interested in President Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami asked the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu to provide security for the 14 newly sworn-in members of the Edo State House of Assembly.
In a letter dated August 5, Malami said his intervention was to enable the lawmakers to hold plenary within the House of the Assembly complex.
“My office is in receipt of a letter dated 3rd August 2020 from Messrs West Idahosa & Co. requesting for the intervention of my office on behalf of its clients who are members-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly but who were excluded or prevented from being inaugurated till date since the House was inaugurated on 17th June 2019. A copy of the letter is attached for ease of reference.
“In view of the foregoing and in order to ensure constitutional compliance with the dictates of Sections 91 – 96 of the 1999 Constitution (as altered) and also to prevent the breakdown of peace, law and order, I’m requesting you kindly provide adequate security measures for the purpose of the inauguration of the concerned members and subsequent sittings in Edo State House of Assembly,” Malami’s letter read.
Seventeen lawmakers of the Edo State House of Assembly, including 14 members whose seats have been previously declared vacant, claim that they have impeached the Speaker of the House, Francis Okiye, and his deputy, Roland Asoro.
The decision was taken on Thursday at a private location in Benin City, the state capital, hours after security officials took over the State Assembly Complex.
In their place, the lawmakers say they have elected Victor Edoror, who represents Esan Central Constituency, and Emmanuel Agbaje, who represents Akoko-Edo Constituency II as Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively.
At the meeting, the 14 lawmakers-elect were, first, sworn in and then, together with three other lawmakers who recently pledged their allegiance to Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) claimed to have impeached the Speaker and his deputy.
The Federal Government says Nigeria is awaiting the return of $200million from the Netherlands and Switzerland.
According to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, the money is part of proceeds from the Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245 Malabu oil deal.
Mr Malami disclosed this on Tuesday at a one-day capacity building workshop organised for judiciary correspondents in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
At the event, he presented a scorecard of the Ministry of Justice in the last one year during which he outlined the efforts of the present administration in the war against corruption.
“On the fight against corruption and associated recovery of looted and illicit assets, I am happy to inform you that within the period in contention, Nigeria succeeded in recovering $311 billion from U.S. and New Jersey and the money has been repatriated to Nigeria,” Malami said.
The minister said due to the anti-corruption crusade, the Federal Government facilitated the recovery of $62 billion arrears from oil companies as part of its Production Sharing Agreement (PSA).
He explained that the money has been paid into the Federal Government treasury for utility development such as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Kano-Abuja Expressway, and the Second Niger Bridge, in line with the agreement reached with the foreign partners.
Malami also disclosed that over N685 million was recovered through the help of whistle-blowers within the last one year while N500 million was recovered from forfeited vessels, trucks, and barges.
Elsewhere, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the government has recovered looted funds in excess of N800 billion with over 1,400 convictions secured.
Mohammed, who also addressed reporters in the nation’s capital, stated that the present administration’s fight against corruption was as strong as ever.
While stressing that there were records to back up his claim, he said Nigerians have recently been inundated with allegations of monumental corruption in a number of government agencies.
He listed some of the agencies to include the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Allegations and counter-allegations in the media have become the daily experience of the suspended EFCC boss Ibrahim Magu and AGF Abubakar Malami, and the duo have no one else to thank for their ordeal except the Justice Ayo Salami panel.
The panel President Muhammadu Buhari set up to investigate the 22 allegations against Magu has been operating in secrecy, going as far as interrogating and detaining the suspect without formality.
And with the vacuum so created, the media, especially social media, has gone to work, filling in the blanks with what they called facts, insider scoops, rumors, and speculations.
Magu, getting the short end of the stick, has been screaming through his lawyers, clarifying the stories in the media—the only source he has been receiving the allegations the presidential panel is probing him for.
“Our client undertakes to cooperate fully with the Salami panel by making available to the panel formal response to the allegations against him in the social media platforms and newspapers since,’ his lawyer Shittu said on the weekend, adding he is yet to be formally served with copies of the allegations against him by the panel.
He’s not spitting fire against the media.
But such zeal to defend is wanting in the reaction of Malami, the chief petitioner and antagonist in the Buhari epic war on corruption which the main opposition PDP describes as a farce.
If anything, the AGF is taking things personally.
According to him, it’s been a gut-wrenching experience watching the media feast of counter-allegations of corruption, abuse of office, and wealth many believe he cannot account for —or which he is been pressured to account for.
“The publications have subjected him considerable distress, psychological trauma, anxiety and greatly injured his character and reputation,” his media office said during the week.
He considers his own share of the media angst, largely stimulated by the blind investigation of Magu, “a seeming coordinated internet/social media attack on him on [since] July 10, 11 and 12, 2020.
Among other media platforms, particular news media (known to Noble Reporters Media) has been dishing out stories and pictures of landed properties in Kano, Kebbi, Abuja it claims belong to the AGF and his family—just within five years of becoming justice minister.
He was equally alleged to have released illegal oil bunkering vessels the EFCC impounded while the case was still in court.
But Malami insisted that the articles were defamatory, with intention to ridicule him before the world.
“He still receives several telephone calls and visits from well-meaning Nigerians, his friends and associates from all over the world,” his lawyer Ibrahim Ameh wrote in a petition to IGP Ibrahim Adamu.
He urged the IGP to probe the defamatory and libelous publications.
But critics of the administration will want him to respond to the allegation. They even want Buhari to probe him too, rather than concentrate on Magu and the EFCC alone.
No fewer than 12 directors of the agency have been forced into suspension. They too had no idea why. But Malami, as directed by Buhari, announced the suspension as part of the on-going effort to purge the agency.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, and five others to appear before it on Friday, July 24.
According to the court, they are to explain the alleged handover of the National Theatre to some developers while the structure is a subject of a pending lawsuit.
Among the five others summoned by Justice Ayokunle Faji is Access Bank of Nigeria Plc and its Managing Director, Mr. Herbert Wigwe.
Others summoned to appear before the court are the Minister, Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and National Orientation, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the National Theatre and the National Troupe of Nigeria Board.
Justice Faji summoned all the parties who are listed as defendant/respondents in a suit before it by a company, Topwideapeas Limited.
Topwideapeas Limited is reportedly designated as the concessionaire of the fallow land adjoining the National Theatre.
Through its lawyer, Chijioke Okoli (SAN), the company brought an exparte application before the court asking it to reverse the handover in order to protect its interest in the property.
The senior lawyer contended that if not reversed, the handover of the structure would render the eventual decision of the court in the suit null and void.
Okoli also complained that despite pending litigation on the structure, the National Theatre was handed over to the CBN, Access Bank of Nigeria Plc, and Herbert Wigwe on July 12.
The handover was said to have been purportedly done by the National Theatre and the National Troupe of Nigeria Board, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), and the Minister, Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture & National Orientation who are listed as the 1st to 3rd defendant in the suit.
Okoli, therefore, is seeking an order “suspending or staying the purported handover on or about July 12, 2020, by the 1st and 3rd defendant/respondents to the 5th-7thdefendant/respondents of the National Theatre Complex, Iganmu, Lagos and the adjoining lands, pending the hearing and determination of the applicant’s motion for an interlocutory injunction (by notice filed on December 31, 2019).”
New facts have unfolded on the alleged sale of forfeited assets by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which pitted the two government institutions against each other.
Investigations revealed that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the suspended EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, at different times gave separate authorisations for the sale of seized assets.
Rather than harmonise the disposal of assets forfeited by alleged looters and other individuals arraigned on charges of financial and cyber crimes, findings indicated that their respective offices had separately invited auctioneers to bid for the sale of luxury homes, cars, trucks, sea vessels, crude oil and other valuables running into billions of naira.
The Ministry of Justice and the EFCC had placed several auction notices in the Federal Tenders Journal and other media inviting the public for auction sales of some seized assets.
In February 2018, for instance, the ministry placed an advertisement inviting auctioneers, marine engineers, valuers and consultants for valuation and disposal of vessels, ships, boats, trucks, vehicles and petroleum products. The notice was placed on a subscription-based online portal, https//:234business.com.
The ministry hinged the move on the decision of the Federal Government to “clear its territorial waters, ports, dockyards, agency offices/stations and highways of obsolete and unauthorised vessels, barges, boats, ships, trucks, vehicles and the cargo in furtherance of National Security of the Federation and recovery of its assets policy.”
On December 19, 2019, the anti-graft agency auctioned 244 trailers and tankers forfeited to the Federal Government by illegal oil dealers. Eleven auctioneers participated in the bid.
The exercise was inaugurated by the commission secretary, Mr Ola Olukoyede, together with a team of senior officers at the EFCC zonal office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The agency issued a press statement on the exercise. A copy of the notice was also published on its website.
In November 2019, Magu also announced that his agency would contract international auction houses to sell the jewellery reportedly worth $40m recovered from ex-petroleum minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, together with seizures made from Internet fraudsters, having secured a forfeiture order from the Federal High Court on September 10.
Magu stated this during a conference at the Lagos office of the commission, where he briefed the stakeholders on the crusade against cybercrime and fraudsters. The jewellery includes 419 bangles, 315 rings, 304 earrings, 267 necklaces, 189 wristwatches, 174 earrings, 78 bracelets, 77 brooches and 74 pendants; as well as luxury houses in Nigeria, United States and in the United Kingdom.
Sources said the refusal of Magu to involve the AGF in the disposal of the forfeited assets largely informed the rift between them, which led Malami to write a memo to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in which he reportedly levelled 22 allegations against the embattled EFCC boss, who is a commissioner of police.
Following the development, the President set up a fact-finding panel headed by a retired President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, and six other members, including DIG Mike Ogbizi, Hassan Abdullahi (representing the Department of State Services), Douglas Ekwueme (Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit), Mallam Shamsudeen (OAGF), Mohammed Abubakar (Ministry of Justice) and Kazeem Atilebi (civil society groups).
Magu has been held in police custody since Monday and currently undergoing interrogations over what was said to include the unapproved sale of recovered assets.
The embattled EFCC boss was said to have been accosted on Monday by operatives of the Department of State Services in front of the old EFCC headquarters on Fomella Street, Wuse 2, Abuja, around 12pm and whisked to the venue of the panel sitting. The panel’s investigation is holding behind closed doors in one of the conference rooms in the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Meanwhile, documents obtained on Friday indicated that the AGF last year granted approval to some operators in the oil industry to sell five sea vessels holding crude oil and diesel forfeited to the Federal Government.
The vessels valued at millions of naira and laden with tonnes of crude oil and diesel were seized by security agencies from illegal oil bunkering operators during different operations. In separate documents, the AGF directed Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd. to dispose of the crude oil and diesel in four sea vessels through an open bid.
In another approval, the AGF mandated the firm to sell five vessels despite the fact that the firm and its Managing Director, Mr Jerome Itepu, stood trial at the Delta State High Court, Asaba, for allegedly stealing about 12,000 metric tonnes of crude oil loaded in a vessel, MT Akuada a.k.a. MT Kua, valued at N384m in 2009. The auctioneer was to get three per cent of the sale.
The EFCC had in 2015 arraigned four persons on charges of conspiracy, stealing and receiving stolen goods. The accused included a businessman and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Edo Central Senatorial District, Chief Francis Inegbeneki; Chief Executive Officer of Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd., Mr Jerome Itepu; Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd. and Ine Oil Ltd. owned by Inegbeneki.
The suit, numbered A/EFCC/1c/2015, was filed on March 24, 2015 by A.J. Arogha, Esq. and U.R. Ewoh, Esq. on behalf of the EFCC. The accused were charged with “conspiracy, contrary to, and punishable under section 516 of the Criminal Code Law, CAP C21, Laws of Delta State 2006.”
According to the anti-graft commission, the accused, sometime in 2009, at Warri, Delta State, within the jurisdiction of the court, allegedly conspired to “commit a felony, to wit: stealing and, thereby, committed an offence.”
It stated, “They were alleged to have committed the offence of stealing, contrary to section 383 of the Criminal Code Law, CAP C21, Laws of Delta State 2006, which is punishable under section 390(4)(c) of the same law.
“According to the particulars of the offence, they allegedly stole about 12,000 metric tonnes of crude oil loaded in a vessel, MT Akuada a.k.a. MT Kua, valued at N384m in 2009, being the property of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
The third count indicated that the accused also allegedly stole about 4,000 metric tonnes of crude oil, loaded in a vessel, MT Hope, valued at N128m belonging to the Federal Government. Inegbeneki, the second accused in the charge sheet, was also charged with allegedly receiving stolen goods contrary to, and punishable under section 427 of the Criminal Code Law, CAP C21, Laws of Delta State 2006, “having allegedly received from one Itepu (first accused) and Omoh-Jay (third accused), about 12,000 metric tonnes of crude oil, knowing same to have been stolen.”
However, findings by one of our correspondents indicated that the AGF authorised Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd. to auction the forfeited vessels.
In a letter dated April 3, 2019, with reference no. HAGF/ARMU/RMDOVSC/2018/T addressed to the Chief of Naval Staff, Nigerian Navy, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, the AGF said Omoh-Jay Ltd. had been granted approval to conduct an open bid and solicited the cooperation of the navy.
The letter signed by Malami, titled ‘Re: Suit no. FHC/ABS/CS/742/2017 FRN and Anor. vs unknown persons (arrested vessels), was received by the CNS on the day it was signed.
It read, “Please be informed that Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd. has been granted approval to conduct an open bid for content only for the following vessels: MT Asteris with crude oil, MV PSV Derby with Automated Gas Oil (diesel), MV Zahra with AGO and MV Long Island with AGO (with leave of court).
“For the purpose of disposal of the products under reference, the Office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice requests the Chief of Naval Staff to kindly grant access and necessary support as always for the whole process.”
In the second approval, Malami directed Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd. to conduct another open bid for five sea vessels, three of which were laden with crude oil and diesel.
The letter addressed to the MD of Omoh-Jay Ltd, dated September 9, 2019, with reference HAGF/ARMU/NSA/2018/1, was also signed by the Justice Minister. It was titled, ‘Re: Report on suit no. FHC/ABS/CS/742/2017 FRN and Anor. v unknown persons (arrested vessels).
It read in part, “Pursuant to your earlier instruction dated September 12, 2018, on the above subject matter, you are hereby instructed further to conduct an open bid sale for the following vessels: MT Asteris with crude oil, MV PSV Derby with Automated Gas Oil, MV Zahra with AGO, MT Peace and MV Anuket Emerald.”
It further directed the firm to revert with offers to the AGF for final approval before the conclusion of the sale. “Be informed that the success fees remain three per cent of the total value recovered from the auction. You are, therefore, expected to submit acceptance letter within 72 hours of the receipt of this instruction,” Malami directed.
However, our correspondents could not confirm the current status of the case between the EFCC and Omoh-Jay Nigeria Limited as well as other co-defendants as of the time of filing this report on Friday. Reacting on behalf of the AGF, in respect of the approval to Omoh-Jay Ltd, his media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu, simply asked one of our correspondents to make a formal request.
“You are also encouraged to support the enquiry with evidence of criminal conviction. This will assist investigation and decision in considering them for auction or otherwise in view of constitutional presumption of innocence until otherwise established,” he noted.
On the lack of synergy between the AGF and EFCC on assets disposal, Gwandu argued that recovery agencies were unified by existing regulation in assets recovery put in place to regulate their processes and procedure in recovery and disposal of recovered assets.
He stated, “It is out of place to conclude that there is no collaboration. Failure to work on existing regulation that forced collaboration, transparency, accountability and uniformity can, therefore, at best be adjudged as an act of breach.”
Asked specifically why the AGF and Magu were independently authorising auction of assets, he responded, “Submit your enquiry with documents to back your claim.”
The EFCC spokesman, Dele Oyewale, had yet to respond to inquiries regarding sale of assets without recourse to the AGF as of the time of filing this report.
When contacted on the status of the case involving Omoh-Jay Ltd. and other defendants, an EFCC lawyer, A. Latona, declined comment. “Make your inquiry official, please; I don’t respond to questions on the phone,” he said on Friday night.
The acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may be suspended from office, as the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami has allegedly listed 22 offences he claims Magu has committed while in office.
This was among the fallout of the invitation extended to him on Monday, where he was reportedly quizzed for several hours, and later detained in a police cell at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) a source told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media)
The sources said, “By not allowing him to go back to his office was an indication that he might be suspended.
“It is obvious that the Presidency has concluded plans to look for a new candidate for the office”.
The quizzing of Magu is expected to continue on Tuesday, as the AGF is said to have submitted a list of about 22 offences he is accusing the EFCC boss of having committed before the panel headed by headed by Justice Isa Ayo Salami, a retired president of the Court of Appeal.
Some of the 22 allegations are as follows:
Alleged discrepancies in the reconciliation records of the EFCC and the Federal Ministry of Finance on recovered funds
Declaration of N539billion as recovered funds instead of N504b earlier claimed
Insubordination to the office of the AGF by not seeking his approval on some decisions
Not providing enough evidence for the extradition of ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke
Alleged late action on the investigation of Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) leading to legal dispute
Not respecting court order to unfreeze a N7billion judgment in favour of a former Executive Director of First Bank
Alleged delay in acting on two vessels seized by Nigerian Navy leading to the loss of crude
Alleged favouring of some investigators called Magu’s Boys
Reporting some judges to their presiding officers without deferring to the AGF
Alleged sales of seized assets to cronies, associates and friends
Alleged issuance of investigative activities to some media prejudicial to some cases.
The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has denied shielding from trial, the 10 soldiers who allegedly killed three policemen in Taraba State last year, while rescuing suspected kidnap kingpin, Wadume from the police team.
Malami gave an update on the case on Wednesday at the virtual Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari with several other ministers in attendance.
He explained that contrary to the claims, the ministry is trying to ensure proper military processes are consummated where the soldiers are either court-martialed internally or handed over to the courts for trial.
“Those that are handy, for the purpose of prosecution, cannot just be held in custody for undue longer periods of time on account of the absence of the military.
“So, that is how the idea of severing the charge to allow those that are handy to stand their trial, arises.
“But that does not by any means, mean to say that the military are shielded, the military cannot be prosecuted. But then, if they have to be prosecuted, they have to be prosecuted within the context of the law,” Malami said.
The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, may have killed Nigeria’s groundbreaking whistleblower policy after he revised the ground rules.
He has now put on whistleblowers the burden of physically recovering a suspected loot and paying the money into the Central Bank. Reporting a suspected account is no longer enough.
In a statement on Sunday, the Justice Ministry said whistleblowers will only be paid a commission “after successful recovery not for mere tracing or exposure of suspected illegitimate funds”.
Malami was reacting to a news report where a whistleblower, John Okupurhe, has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, accusing the AGF of denying him commission after exposing over $1bn (N420bn) hidden in Unity Bank Plc.
Okupurhe, through his lawyer, Aliyu Lemu, said he expected his share after he exposed the account that was secretly being operated by the Nigerian Ports Authority to collect revenue from vessels.
He said he provided the details to the Office of the AGF of the secret account in line with the whistleblower policy, and that an agreement was signed.
The agreement stated that Okupurhe would be entitled to a commission if the information provided turned out credible.
The whistleblower said after playing his own part, the AGF’s office began to give excuses.
According to a Federal Ministry of Finance website on whistleblowing: “A Whistleblower responsible for providing the Government with information that directly leads to the voluntary return of stolen or concealed public funds or assets may be entitled to anywhere between 2.5%-5.0% of amount recovered.
“In order to qualify for the reward, the Whistleblower must provide the Government with information it does not already have and could not otherwise obtain from any other publicly available source to the Government.
“The actual recovery must also be on account of the information provided by the Whistleblower”.
These ground rules made by the Finance ministry four years ago, and that led to recovery of N594 billion as at December 2019, appeared now to have changed with the Sunday statement made by Dr Umar Gwandu, the Special Assistant to the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami on Media and Public Relations.
In the statement, Malami did not say whether Okupurhe’s information was genuine and whether it led government to recover the hidden funds. Rather, he threatened legal action against the petitioner, who claimed he was cajoled to forfeit 60 percent of his commission.
“The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice wants to make it categorically clear that one does not get payment on account of exposing looted assets, but on successful recovery and lodgement of same into the designated assets recovery account at the Central Bank of Nigeria’’.
He said the procedure for engagement of a whistleblower or recovery agent as it relates to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation is as follows:
‘`A Proposal is submitted to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, a Letter of engagement is issued to a whistleblower or recovery agent where the disclosure is assessed to have some prospects of success.
“The recovery agent or whistleblower is expected to notify in writing the acceptance of the engagement.
“The recovery agent or whistle blower is expected, upon acceptance, to not only trace the assets but recover same and have it deposited in a designated asset recovery account maintained by the federal government in the Central Bank which is usually provided to the recovery agent in writing’’.
He added that where these funds are eventually claimed to have been lodged by a whistleblower or recovery agent, the Central Bank issues acknowledgement of receipt of the fund to the Office of Attorney-General on demand.
“It is the satisfaction of the above elements that entitles the whistleblower or a recovery agent to a claim of success fee and the payment is usually effected by the Federal Ministry of Finance and not the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
“The role of the Office of the Attorney-General in essence is simply that of processing the above listed documents to the Ministry of Finance which is the ministry saddled with the responsibility of effecting payment’’.
Malami explained further that recovery is not about exposing the existence of certain assets in an account purported to have belonged to an agency of the government.
“It is about establishing that the funds in the account are looted assets or illegitimately warehoused and following that up with actual recovery and lodgement of the funds in the designated Asset recovery account through judicial and extra judicial means.
“Entitlement to recovery fees is for all intent and purposes contingent on lodgement of the purported/exposed assets constituting the subject of recovery into the Federal Government Recovery designated Account.
“This account is maintained at the instance of the President at the Central Bank of Nigeria and the details of the account are contained in the engagement letter.
“The agreed remuneration shall become due and payable to the whistleblower within thirty (30) days of the receipt of the recovered/looted funds by the Federal Government of Nigeria and payment shall be made to the designated/nominated account provided in writing by the whistle-blower’’.
Malami advised that if the whistleblower in the circumstances of this case feels strongly that there is any claim of wrongdoing associated with the alleged claim relating to recovery process, the whistleblower should consider lodging a complaint with the relevant institutions of his choice for the matter to be properly investigated and or consider a judicial redress in the alternative.
“The claim by the whistle-blower, as published by the newspaper, that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federal cajoled them into signing of an agreement forfeiting sixty percent of the whistleblower fees amounts to criminal allegation which the whistleblower is encouraged to lodge a complaint about before the appropriate law enforcement agencies for full-scale investigation’’.
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.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, says the directive of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Tanko Mohammed for courts to suspend proceedings follows the Quarantine Act signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Malami in a statement issued on Wednesday by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, however, clarified that courts are expected to attend to matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound even during the lockdown.
The AGF explained that since speedy dispensation of justice is a cardinal principle of the Justice Sector Reform of the present administration, only time-bound cases will be treated with dispatch and accorded the required attention as the nation battles the COVID-19 scourge.
According to the statement, the directive was communicated in a letter addressed to all heads of courts dated 1st April 2020 conveying the COVID 19 Regulation 2020.
It read in part: “Further to the letter Ref. No. NJC/CIR/HOC/11/631 dated 23rd March 2020 by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice I. T. Mohammad, CFR directing suspension of Court sittings for an initial period of two weeks at the first instance, except in matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound according to extant laws.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.