The Attorney General of the Federation, (AGF) Mr Abubakar Malami, (SAN) has been urged to stop opposing the anti-corruption campaigns of the law enforcement agencies.
In a statement, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) accused the AGF of frustrating critical corruption cases through his undue interference.
“We are constrained to come out openly against what appears a clear attempt by the AGF to put a clogs in the wheel of the anti-corruption drive. HEDA has in fact compiled several instances when the AGF gave impression that he is not on the same page with Nigerians in the anti-corruption movement”, HEDA’s Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju said.
The group said the AGF’s office should be in the forefront of the campaign against corruption and that the fight against graft and impunity suffers defeat when the AGF consistently tow a pattern that leaves many with the impression that the fight against corruption has political coloration or can be compromised through his office.
“If the AGF is not interested in bringing corruption to its knees, he should at least not do anything to obstruct the tide that is favoured to confront corruption headlong. Countries in the world that have succeeded in fighting corruption are those that have the Executive especially the AGF on the steering will. When the AGF takes actions that raise the dust of suspicion, the effective energy needed to curb financial crimes will be lost” Suraju stated.
The HEDA cites the trial of All Progressives Congress, (APC) gubernatorial candidate in Imo State, Hope Uzodinma as an example where the AGF had aborted the request by a Federal High Court that the APC chief should appear in person. The group said it was surprised that the AGF filed a suit to take over the case from the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property, SPIPRP even when Uzodinma had not taken a plea on the charge against him.
Uzodinma is standing trial for refusing to declare his assets before the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Abuja, contrary to and punishable under Section 3 (3) (1) (a) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provision) Act 2004
A Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Okon Abang had granted the request by the AGF to take over the prosecution of Uzodinma. The Chief Okoi Obono-Obla led presidential panel, which challenged the powers of the AGF to abort Uzodinma’s scheduled arraignment had expressed dissatisfaction with the Judge’s ruling.
At the proceeding last Tuesday, counsel to the panel, Mr. Celcius Ukpong had announced his appearance for the prosecution. Promptly, Mr. P.U. Akuta, announced his decision to represent the AGF. This is akin to several other instances where the AGF’s office appeared in high profile corruption cases and applies to withdraw charges or take over cases. In similar vein, the AGF’s office attempted taking over and by extension frustrate the prosecution of Abebe the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Despite the failure of the his office to successfully prosecute a single corruption case in the last over 3 years, the AGF attempted to frustrate the recent prosecution of the current Director general of Nigeria Broadcasting Commission, Dr. Modibbo Kawu through the usual antics of ’taking over’ prosecution of a case extensively investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The HEDA said the squabble over prosecution by the AGF portrayed a clear agenda only known to the AGF and also give the impression of a Federal Government that is confused and insincere with the anticorruption crusade.
“ The AGF may have powers to take over any case, but this must be in the overall public interest. In this case, the AGF and the accused align in terms of political interests. It is on this basis that the AGF should not have shown what appears like a special interest in the case” HEDA said.
It further warned that the ruling elite should be conscious of the fact that corruption has continued to fuel anger and violence across the land while creating a fertile breeding ground for a generation of desperate and violent young people.
“The way to ensure stability and prosperity of Nigeria and her citizens is to guarantee equal opportunities for Nigerians. We should know that the teeming population of poor Nigerians, the culture of hate and banditry in the land are not unconnected with corruption and mismanagement of public funds by officials, ”Suraju said.