Edo Assembly Crisis: AGF Asks IGP To Provide Security Cover For Members-Elect

AGF and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, addresses a press conference on August 22, 2019.

 

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.

See the document here

 

FG Expecting $200m From Netherlands, Switzerland – Malami

 

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.

READ ALSO: FG Recovers N800bn Looted Funds, Convicts 1,400 – Lai Mohammed

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.

A file photo of Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.
A file photo of the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.

 

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).

Court Summons Malami, Emefiele, Others Over National Theatre Handover

Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami and CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

 

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.

READ ALSO: Third Mainland Bridge: Alternative Routes Are Ready, Lagos Govt Tells Motorists

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).”

Alleged Kidnapping: Femi Falana Asks AGF To Produce Indicted Soldiers For Trial

Falana Challenges Governors To Get Involved In Police Administration
(FILE PHOTO) Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana

 

 

A Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has asked the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to produce the indicted soldiers involved in the brutal murder of three policemen over suspected kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu in court for trial.

Falana made this call on Sunday via a statement he personally issued.

The legal practitioner noted that the military’s court-martial lacks the competence to try the soldiers for terrorism offences committed against police personnel or other members of the public.

He argued that the terrorism offence allegedly carried out by the soldiers were not provided for in the Armed Forces Act.

“With respect, the offence of terrorism allegedly committed by the indicted soldiers are not provided for in the Armed Forces Act.

“To that extent, a general court-martial or special court-martial lacks the jurisdictional competence to try the offence of terrorism committed against police personnel and other members of the public by soldiers who are subject to service law.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: SGF Boss Mustapha, Others Attend Church Service, Pray Against Virus

For the avoidance of doubt, Section 32 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended by the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2013 provides that “The Federal High Court located in any part of Nigeria, regardless of the location where the offence is committed, shall have jurisdiction to (a) try offences under this Act or any other related enactment; (b) hear and determine proceedings arising under this Act,” the statement partly read.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE

A COURT-MARTIAL LACKS THE COMPETENCE TO TRY OFFENCES OF TERRORISM

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN was reported to have said that the soldiers indicted in the brutal murder of 3 policemen who arrested a suspected kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu (alias Wadume) could be tried by a court-martial. According to the Minister, “They are military personnel. First, they are to go through the in-house processes. There are two options – either to charge them before the court-martial which is a special court established by law for the trial of soldiers or in the alternative for the military after consummation of the in-house processes should consider handing them over for trial.”

With respect, the offence of terrorism allegedly committed by the indicted soldiers are not provided for in the Armed Forces Act. To that extent, a general court-martial or special court-martial lacks the jurisdictional competence to try the offence of terrorism committed against police personnel and other members of the public by soldiers who are subject to service law. For the avoidance of doubt, Section 32 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended by the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2013 provides that “The Federal High Court located in any part of Nigeria, regardless of the location where the offence is committed, shall have jurisdiction to (a) try offences under this Act or any other related enactment; (b) hear and determine proceedings arising under this Act”.

Hence, the indicted soldiers were properly charged with terrorism along with other suspects in the only competent court in the land. However, since the military authorities did not release the suspects to the Police for the purpose of arraigning them in court the learned trial judge, the Honourable Justice Binta Nyako rightly ordered the Chief of Army Staff to produce them to answer to the heinous charge of terrorism and allied offences. Even though the Attorney- General withdrew the charges against the indicted soldiers the order that they be produced in court for arraignment has not been vacated or quashed either by the trial court or the Court of Appeal. Therefore, the Attorney-General is duty-bound by to ensure full and unconditional compliance with the valid and subsisting order of the federal high court in accordance with section 287 (3) of the Constitution.

Femi Falana SAN

Malami Denies Shielding 10 Soldiers Involved In Wadume’s Case From Trial

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.

Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, made an appearance on Channels Television on June 30, 2020.
Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television  June 30, 2020.

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.

Read Also: Wadume’s Trial Continues In Abuja

“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.

Ekiti Sues AGF, Others Over Constitutionality Of Virtual Court Hearings

 

The Ekiti State Government has filed a suit against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) over the constitutionality of his directive issued on April 20, 2020, prescribing Virtual Court Sittings to the Head of Courts at federal and state levels.

In the suit filed through the office of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Wale Fapohunda, Ekiti is asking the apex court to issue an order striking down the directive as it relates to Virtual or Remote Court sittings.

It also wants the Supreme Court to nullify the directive to the extent that same purports to be binding on state High Courts and other subordinate courts in Ekiti State for being inconsistent with Section 1(3), 4(6), 5(2), 6(2), 36(3) and (4), 272 and 274 of the 1999 Constitution.

Apart from the Attorney General of the Federation, the Attorneys General of Lagos & Ogun States who have implemented virtual court proceedings were also listed as second and third defendants.

Ekiti State further wants the Supreme Court to determine whether the AGF’s guidelines are not a derogation from the legislative, executive and judicial law-making, law execution and adjudicatory rules making powers exclusively vested in states of the federation in respect of states courts, by virtue of Sections 1(3), 4(6), 5(2), 6(2), 272 and 272 and 274 of the Constitution.

The plaintiff is also asking the apex court to decide whether Lagos and Ogun state having adopted virtual court hearings pursuant to the lockdown, the three arms of Government in Ekiti State are bound to conduct their legislative, executive and judicial functions pertaining to adjudication in state courts in compliance with the directive upon which the National Judicial Council formulated the provisions of Articles E(1) to E(13) of its Guidelines (issued on May 7, 2020).

The Supreme Court is yet to fix a date for the hearing of the matter.

Abacha’s Loot: Focus On Fund Utilization Not Rhetoric – Malami

A file photo of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

 

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has urged Nigerians to pay more attention on how the Abacha loot is being utilised other than focusing on rhetorics.

In a statement from the office of the Attorney-General, Mr Malami noted that most of what is being discussed in the media regarding the characterization of the Abacha recovered funds are needless.

Mr Malami argued that contrary to what some may believe, he has been describing the funds in question as ‘Abacha Loot’, but had to change the term because when the fund were legitimately repatriated, then it became an asset.

He urged Nigerians to focus more on the use of the funds rather than continue to engage in what he termed a contest of ‘verbal dexterity and vocal acrobatics’.

READ ALSO: Study The Budget And See What Abacha’s Loot Is Being Used For, Says Femi Adesina

Below is a full statement from the office of the Attorney-General.

Nigerian Govt Receives $311m Abacha Assets From US, Jersey

General Sani Abacha was a Nigerian military Head of State in the 1990s
General Sani Abacha was a Nigerian military Head of State in the 1990s.

 

 

The Nigerian government has received $311,797,866.11 recovered assets of General Sani Abacha repatriated from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

The Attorney-General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, confirmed this on Monday in a statement by the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations at his office, Dr Umar Gwandu.

According to Malami, the amount increased significantly from over $308 million mentioned in an earlier statement in February to over $311million as a result of the interest that accrued from February 3 to April 28, when the fund was transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He noted that the litigation process for the return of the assets titled ‘Abacha III’ commenced in 2014 while the diplomatic process that culminated in the signing of the Asset Return Agreement commenced in 2018.

The agreement was signed on February 3 by the governments of Nigeria, the United States, and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

“This Agreement is based on international law and cooperation measures, that sets out the procedures for the repatriation, transfer, disposition, and management of the assets,” he said.

According to the statement, the recovery effort consolidates on the record of the Muhammadu Buhari administration which has a history of recovery of $322m from Switzerland in 2018.

It added that the recovered loots were transparently and judiciously deployed in supporting indigent Nigerians as specified in the agreement signed with Switzerland and the World Bank.

Malami, who led the negotiation team, noted that the tripartite agreement and the process towards the implementation represented a major watershed in International Asset Recovery and Repatriation as it sought to provide benefit to the victims of corruption.

He said, “In line with the 2020 Asset Return Agreement, the fund has been transferred to a Central Bank of Nigeria Asset Recovery designated account and would be paid to the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) within the next fourteen days.

“The NSIA is responsible for the management and execution of the projects to which the funds will be applied.”

The minister insisted that the latest recovery would support and assist in expediting the construction of three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria – Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja – Kano Road, and the Second Niger Bridge.

He revealed that the government was in the process of establishing a Project Monitoring Team to oversee the implementation of the projects and report regularly on progress made to the public.

In order to ensure transparent management of the returned assets, Malami said the government would engage a Civil Society Organisation who has combined expertise in substantial infrastructure projects, civil engineering, anti-corruption compliance, anti-human trafficking compliance, and procurement to provide additional monitoring and oversight.

He noted that the process for the engagement of the CSO monitor has already commenced with the adverts placed in two local newspapers.

The recovered funds, according to the minister, were laundered through the U.S. banking system and then held in bank accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey.

He revealed that a U.S. Federal Court in Washington D.C. forfeited the money in 2014, as property involved in the illicit laundering of the proceeds of corruption arising in Nigeria during the period when General Abacha was Head of State from 1993 to 1998.

Malami added that in 2017, the Nigerian government filed a case in the Bailiwick of Jersey to assert its authority as the owner of the funds and as the victim of the action of General Abacha.

He, therefore, called for greater cooperation and mutual respect among countries in the implementation of expeditious cooperation measures already set out in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and in the implementation of the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) principles on the repatriation of stolen assets.

The minister assured Nigerians that the government would ensure that the returned assets were transparently managed.

CJN’s Directive On Suspension Of Court Proceedings Follows Quarantine Act, Says Malami

A file photo of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

 

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.”

FG Committed To Taking 100 Million Nigerians Out Of Poverty – Malami

A file photo of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

 

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) says the Federal Government remains committed to taking millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

Malami said this on Tuesday at the distribution of microloans to 1,500 women and youths in Kebbi State organised by the National Directorate of Employment.

According to him, the singular action of empowering Nigerians with macro loans for boosting small scale business activities demonstrates the government’s efforts in that regard.

Speaking further, the minister also noted that achieving economically productive, socially responsible and culturally viable womenfolk requires systematic and consistent efforts, as women constitute a critical sector and essential component to reckon with for any meaningful national development.

The AGF said he was optimistic that the microloan given would boost business activities in the area especially in view of the forthcoming Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festivals.

According to him, in addition to facilitating job creation through the establishment of new ministries, departments and agencies, the Federal Government is committed to massive employment of teaming Nigerian populace in various Ministries, Departments and Agencies including security and
paramilitary sectors.

While congratulating the beneficiaries of the scheme, Malami urged them to make judicious use of the funds provided.

AGF Arraigns Ex-NITDA Boss Over Alleged N50m Scam

A file photo of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

 

 

The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation has arraigned a former Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Peter Jack.

Jack was brought before the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Apo on Tuesday over alleged N50 million contract scam.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the two charges of criminal breach of trust and cheating.

In an oral bail application, the defence counsel, Alex Ekpebta, urged the court to grant the defendant bail on liberal terms on the ground that the offence was a bailable one.

But the prosecution counsel, Chelsy Emezina, told the court that some times in 2015, one Tunde Ajala, transferred the sum of N50 million out of N100 million agreed to the defendant as payment to award him a contract worth over N1 billion and the said contract was never awarded.

The prosecutor insisted that the defendant may jump bail if granted, adding that he should be remanded in a correctional facility.

Ruling on the bail application, Justice Sylvanus Oriji admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N20 million with two sureties in like sum.

He also directed that the sureties, one of whom must be a civil servant, must depose to an affidavit of means and must be resident within the court’s jurisdiction.

The judge, thereafter, adjourned the trial of the case until April 30 and May 18, 2020.

Looted Funds Recovered By Buhari Administration Were Judiciously Utilised – Malami

A file photo of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

 

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), says looted funds recovered by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration were judiciously utilized for high-impact public-oriented projects.

He was quoted to have said this in a statement signed on Tuesday by the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu.

According to the statement, Malami said the application of the fund was monitored by the World Bank and Civil Society Organisations in the areas of Social Investment Programmes including N-power, School-feeding and associated interventions overseen from the office of Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

“The money was judiciously applied for the purpose for which it was meant for and none of the parties; neither the Swiss government, nor the World Bank, much less of the Civil Society Organisation raised any question regarding reputation relating to the application of the funds,” he said.

Speaking further, the minister stated that looted funds expected from the United States of America and the Island of Jessy are yet to be received by the government, “so the issue regarding embezzlement or misappropriation of same is an imaginary illusion which does not even arise as the money has not yet been repatriated to Nigeria”.

“The role of the PDP relating to transparency and accountability over the looted assets can best be appreciated with particular reference to the 2003 agreement brokered by the PDP government and the question of liability and accountability raised by Falana can best be answered by the implications of the 2003 agreement,” he added.

Malami, therefore, noted that looted monies recovered before 2015 were substantially recovered by past governments that should be made to account on the application or otherwise of the funds.