Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, yesterday, disclosed that a prima facie case had been established against suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari over allegations levelled against him by the United States government in the fraud case involving an internet fraudster, Ramon Abbas, popularly called Hushpuppi.
Malami, who spoke during an interview on Channels Television, noted that multiple jurisdictions were involved in the matter, including the United Arab Emirates, America, and Nigeria. He added that though investigations were still ongoing, the possibility of extraditing the officer was high.
The attorney general also claimed that the number of convictions the administration had so far secured in the fight against corruption clearly established that a recent report by Transparency International had no basis.
Malami explained, “There are lots of considerations that are ongoing, including the possibility of extradition and that is why the collaboration element comes in. There could be a need for extradition.
“As far as I am concerned, parties are discussing; we are collaborating and there are exchanges of correspondence. The reasonable ground of suspicion has been established and that will eventually translate into prosecution and eventual conviction.
“The position now is that there are prima facie grounds, reasonable grounds for suspicion have been considered from the perspective of prosecution, from the perspective of extradition if the need for it arises.”
Malami also addressed the question of terrorism sponsorship and assured Nigerians that nothing would be hidden in terms of names, associated facts, and circumstances.
According to him, “Work is in progress and nobody has been taken to custody arbitrarily. In a couple of weeks, these people will be charged to court. In a number of weeks, we will have something tangible. I am a man of honour, not out of pride, but when I make promises, I keep to them.”
Malami rejected the Corruption Perceptions Index 2021, which ranked Nigeria 154 out of 180 countries and territories, putting the country back five places from the rank of 149 in 2020. He said before the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, Nigeria had only about 103 convictions in corruption cases between 2013 and 2014. He said the number had moved to 2,000 convictions in 2021 alone in cases brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The attorney general stated, “Today, as of the end of 2021, EFCC has recorded over 2,000 convictions. So, if you are talking of the year in, year out empirical evidence as it relates to the performance of our institutions, one single institution (EFCC) has established the point that there is no basis by which Transparency International report can stand.
“When you juxtapose the report of the Transparency International with that of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which is more universal and are the best for assessment.
“As far as we are concerned, when you are talking of Transparency International compared with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), then, the answer as far as we are concerned is UNDOC stands clear.
“The fact that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has been commended and rated as the champion of anti-corruption established a point that there is no basis, no foundation, no justifiable ground and, indeed, to the standing platform upon which Transparency International could stand. We have been acknowledged to be doing very well by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).”
The minister insisted that the fight against corruption could only be assessed by the number of prosecutions and convictions, saying the fact that EFCC could records, over 2,000 convictions within a year showed that the present administration has done well in the fight against corruption.
Malami also dwelt on the alleged delay in the prosecution of high profile cases, saying, “As far as the present administration is concerned, delay of cases does not arise. If you are looking at it from the perspective of the legislative framework, we are enforcing provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, as in day-in-day-out prosecution of cases.”
Citing the case of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, Malami stated that once the matter had been subjected to court, the delay in the prosecution could not be blamed on the presidency, adding that it is exclusively a judiciary affair.
“We have taken steps to provide the legislative framework; we have taken steps in due diligence of prosecution of cases, which as a result of multiple convictions within a span of a year, is a clear pointer that we have indeed promised and delivered,” he said.
However, on the case of former EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, the Malami said, “It’s a work-in-progress,” adding, “The report of investigation, having been received, it is only logical to allow the agents of the government to do what they are supposed to do for the purpose of arriving at a certain position.
“The idea of political persecution does not arise but due process. We allow the institutions to do the needful with a view to arriving at a final decision.”
On money recovered at an Ikoyi building some years ago, Malami said, “I have to refer back to the record,” stressing that, all the monies that had been forfeited to the federal government were part of the funds used to support the budget.
Malami stated, “In our budgets of 2020, 2021, and 2022, we have a component of budget servicing that relates to recovered assets. So, if there has been a final forfeiture order relating to that money, it may have been applied to service the budget.”
Speaking on the failure to disclose names of those allegedly sponsoring terrorism, he said, “Prima facie case or reasonable suspicion seems to have been established, eventually, the prosecution will take place,” assuring that nothing would be hidden in terms of names, associated facts, and circumstances.
He said, ”Work is in progress and nobody has been taken to custody arbitrarily. In a couple of weeks, these people will be charged to court. In a number of weeks, we will have something tangible. I am a man of honour, not out of pride, but when I make promises, I keep to them.”
The issue of Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu also came up and the minister said, “We will allow the law of the country, where he (Igboho) is being detained to take its natural course. Perhaps, thereafter bring him back after the conclusion of his trial over there to face the Nigerian law that has been breached.
“We are not interfering with his ongoing prosecution at the foreign land. A political solution can only be considered after the conclusion of his trial at the Benin Republic. We cannot rule out any possibility in terms of prosecution. In our laws, there are lots of possibilities.”
Malami refrained from debating the Electoral law, saying it would be premature for him to comment on it, as a copy of the Amended Electoral Bill only got to his office yesterday (Monday).
He explained, “I have not taken steps to review the content of what has been presented for consideration. So, it is premature and pre-emptive for me at this moment to arrive at any conclusion, taking into consideration that I have not seen what it contains and analysed it in accordance with the constitution.
“Certainly, if I am not satisfied and if I am of the opinion that it is against the public interest and against the dictates of the democratic process, I will advise accordingly. One thing I can tell you is that we are all interested in leaving behind a legacy – a lasting democracy – a democracy that accommodates the collective interests of the Nigerian state and advances the national interest,” he said.