ABUJA — The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, said yesterday that he has secured the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to thoroughly audit all pending high profile criminal cases.
He said the President Buhari-led government would not hesitate to re-open fresh investigation against anyone whose trial is found to have been compromised in any way.The AGF, who made this disclosure while briefing newsmen in Abuja yesterday, said the audit would be aimed at uncovering reasons why past administrations failed to effectively prosecute corruption cases that were initiated against ‘some politically exposed persons’.
“Similarly, those who compromised investigations of such cases will be duly prosecuted. Under this administration, there will be no respite for the corrupt,” the AGF stated.
Remarkably, almost 10 years after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, dragged some former governors to court over their alleged complicity in money laundering and wanton looting of public treasury, no meaningful headway has been made on most of the cases.
In fact, most of the corruption cases pending in court against the former governors are yet to even enter the hearing stage.
Mindful of this fact, the AGF, yesterday, vowed to re-invigorate all the anti-corruption agencies in the country, saying: “The battle against corruption is one which the administration of President Buhari has identified as crucial to the ultimate capacity of the Nigerian state to rise to its full potentials.
“The linkage between corruption and under-development has long been established and explains why Mr. President, in his inaugural address on May 29, 2015, identified corruption as the worst form of human rights violation as it denies the people the resources they need to develop and thrive.
“The Federal Ministry of Justice will, therefore, be positioned under my watch to play this role in a credible and committed manner.
“The task of re-invigorating the ministry and the other anti-corruption agencies such as the EFCC, the ICPC and the Nigeria Police Force, is one to which I hereby pledge my personal commitment and energy, in order to position them to fight it within the bounds of law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will and in line with international best practices.
“Fighting corruption, of course, is not only a question of having laws and institutions in place, but also involves the need to deepen institutional credibility and individual integrity.
“The staff of the ministry and the other agencies, who will be involved in this fight, must therefore, realise that new and improved standards will be required of them and this government will not accept excuses for failure in the investigation and prosecution of cases.
“On its part, government will continue to improve the levels of provisions of the resources and welfare requirements of the officers who will be involved in this campaign. We all must continue to be motivated by the fact that corruption is a monster which can consume us all if we do not collectively tackle it through individual efforts and collective approaches.
“The world over, it is believed that democracy thrives in an atmosphere of an independent judiciary, the protection of minority rights and an active legislative assembly that acts as an effective oversight over Executive action. As Nigeria’s Chief Law Officer, I am mindful of the responsibilities vested upon me under the constitution and therefore commit myself to building these Democratic institutions which are the pillars of our democracy.”
“On the international front and conscious of the responsibility of my Ministry to advice the government on its international treaty obligations, we shall strive to ensure that our international bonds with our partners continue to be strengthened.
“We shall therefore continue to work with foreign governments and institutions in tackling complex cross-border crimes and implement mutual legal assistance agreements with other countries especially in the area of asset repatriation and legal assistance.
“We must show collectively, a determination to demonstrate that the law is not an ass, as it used to be referred to derisively, but instead, that it can be a potent force for positive change and the enthronement of social justice.
“I am therefore committed to the employment of law as an instrument of social engineering to work and realise the Change that we all desire as a people”, the AGF added.
Meantime, fielding questions from journalists on why the federal government was acting against a valid court order by deploying operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, to prevent the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, from travelling abroad for medical treatment, the AGF, insisted that the action of the government was backed by the law.
According to him, “This administration believes in the supremacy of the rule of law and can never flout court orders. However, some high profile cases are sometimes clouded by multiple issues that require in-depth investigations.
“Even when a case has already been entered against you, if fresh monumental issues arise, as a good citizen, you are bound to submit yourself for investigation. It is not enough to conclude that an order of a court is flouted, we must look at peculiarity of the circumstance”.
Contending that national interest would always supersede that of any individual in the country no matter how highly placed, the AGF, said: “There is no room for corruption in this country. We will deploy all resources to fight it and also ensure that those who compromised the fight in the past are brought to book”.