Why I authorised appeal against Saraki’s acquittal – AGF

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Image result for Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, on Wednesday, debunked insinuations that he was not committed to the anti-corruption war.

He said his total commitment to the war against corruption informed his decision to authorise the filing of an appeal against the judgment of the Code of Conduct Tribunal which acquitted the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, of all 18 charges of false asset declaration preferred against the former Kwara State Governor.

The AGF, through a private prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), and a lawyer in the AGF office had on Tuesday filed 11 grounds notice of appeal against the acquittal, describing the CCT’s judgment as unreasonable.

The AGF spoke on Wednesday through a statement co-signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Salihu Isah and the Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution (AGF Office), Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla.

The statement was reacting to a report by Sunday PUNCH in which a member of the Prof. Itse Sagay-led Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Femi Odekunle, had at an event on Saturday in Abuja, raised questions about the AGF’s anti-corruption war.

The programme, where both Sagay and Odekunle spoke, was organised by the National Association of Seadogs (the Pyrates Confraternity), the Chairman of the panel.

Reacting, the AGF who highlighted a number of measures he had put in place to fight corruption as the demonstration of his commitment to the anti-graft war, expressed disappointment in Odekunle’s comment.

The AGF maintained that despite some recent setbacks suffered by the anti-corruption war, the fight would continue to be fought “resolutely, painstakingly, doggedly, purposefully and determinedly with all the constitutional and legal arsenals at the disposal of the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

He said to demonstrate that he was “fully and completely committed, dedicated and supports the war against corruption”, he authorised the filing of the appeal against Saraki’s acquittal by the CCT.

The statement read in part, “The Honourable Attorney of the Federation wishes to assure Nigerians that despite some recent setbacks recorded in some of the cases involving politically exposed people; that the war against corruption is fully on course.

“It shall be fought resolutely, painstakingly, doggedly, purposefully and determinedly with all the constitutional and legal arsenals at the disposal of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“The Federal Government is more than ever before committed towards the complete eradication of the scourge of corruption and graft in the country.

“In this regard, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation has directed that a Notice of Appeal be lodged against the ruling of the Code of Conduct Tribunal acquitting and discharging false assets declaration case preferred against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.”

He reminded “those in a hurry to condemn due to the temporary setbacks recorded lately” that “they should tarry awhile because a legal process is deemed not concluded until it terminates at the Supreme Court which is the highest court of arbitration in Nigeria”.

He said in the introductory part of the statement that he was saddened by Odekunle’s comment especially coming from a person “who ought to know better”.

The statement said his attention was drawn to the PACAC member’s comment contained in “a publication in the PUNCH Newspaper of 18 June 2017 titled, ‘Buhari’s anti-corruption panel lambasts Presidency, Judiciary…says AGF, others not serious about graft war’.”

The statement said, “To say that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN frowns at the statement is an understatement. In fact, he is highly disappointed that such accusation and statement could be made by those who ought to know better.

“The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation is saddened and flummoxed at the attempt to cast aspersion on his integrity, dedication and commitment to the war against corruption which undoubtedly is one of the major cornerstones of the present administration.

“There is no gainsaying that the incumbent Attorney General of the Federation has shown and demonstrated so much passion, drive, will and enthusiasm in prosecution of transgressors of the law ever seen in the annals of this country.

“The truth of the matter is that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation is totally, fully and completely committed, dedicated and supports the war against corruption in all its form and ramification.”

He also highlighted measures put in place to show he remained dedicated to the war.

The statement said, “Towards this end, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation since his assumption of office has initiated numerous reforms and programs to drive the war against corruption including the recently launched National Anti-Corruption Strategy, 2017.

“The National Anti-Corruption Strategy plan is a five-year strategic plan to combat corruption and corrupt tendencies in the country to the barest minimum. It is the first of its plan in the history of the country.”

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