The purge going on in the EFCC will not sweep away just its suspended chairman Ibrahim Magu; it has smeared AGF/Justice Minister Abubakar Malami; and it may plunge President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and anti-corruption policy into mass crisis.
Storms of public outcry gathering against Malami is already providing a curtain raiser.
Following the suspension of the allegedly corrupt EFCC chairman and his directors, Nigerians are calling on Buhari to initiate a ministry-wide probe with Malami himself getting in the dragnet.
The AGF seems an albatross around his paymaster’s neck.
“Malami has no credibility whatsoever,” said Junaid Mohammed, a former federal lawmaker and leader of thought in the north.
“He is not transparent and all the tell-tale signs of corruption are very evident in the way he runs the Ministry of Justice and the way he attempts to run the EFCC.”
Junaid just joined many Nigerians discrediting the AGF. Lawyers and CSOs are even taking their criticism farther by asking for something more drastic.
Kabir Akingbolu, a human rights lawyer, for instance, asked Buhari to dismiss Malami.
“If this government decided to keep mum by treating Malami with kid gloves or as a sacred cow, the government should forget its anti-corruption war song and stop deceiving Nigerians and the whole world.”
How the nation’s foremost law officer ends up as a sleaze bag in public view is not difficult to understand. Malami’s sins, for many Nigerians, are weighty enough for Buhari to consider him a drag on the APC government.
Below is a shortlist of Malami’s for which Nigerians are flaying him the media.
The 7 deadly sins of AGF
- In January, Malami blocked investigation of the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending boss Aliyu Abdulhameed alleged to have awaded a N2bn contract to his son whom the Dubai police already jailed for money laundering.
- He directed a firm, Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd, to sell crude oil and diesel in four sea vessels through an open bid, when he knew the company was facing trial for allegedly stealing about 12,000 metric tonnes of crude oil loaded in a vessel. Malami said he got Buhari’s order to sell the vessel.
- In 2017, Malami also wrote to Buhari to abandon the storied Malabu Oil deal scandal whose prosecution in Italy has seen top officials of oil companies involved indicted. It’s a nine-year-old case Nigeria is so much invested, an the suspects include many successive oil ministers, including Da Etete, Diezani Allison-Madueke, ex-AGF Mohammed Adoke.. But Malami claim there’s nothing in it.
- In 2017, He also ordered Katsina justice commissioner to take over an ICPC case involving mismanagement of N5.7b of Sure-P fund in the state. The suspects were discharged November that year.
- In 2016, Malami also began move to take over no fewer than 103 high-profile cases, including those of many politically exposed people in Nigeria. He eventually got the files from EFCC. His claim: As AGF, he has the constitutional rights to take over prosecution from the EFCC, ICPC, and the police.
- In 2018, Malami again butted into a decades-old case of asset repatriation of the late dictator Sani Abacha. The AGF brought his own lawyers into the cases handled and largely delievered by Enrico Monfini, a Swiss layer who had been on the cases for over a decade. Malami lawyers eventually sliced off 10 percent as recovery fee from the $321m recovered from Switzerland
- To cap it all, series of investigation by Sahara Reporters recently uncovered multimillion-naira assets, mostly landed properties in Kano, Abuja, Kebbi, belonging to the AGF, his sons, and other family members. According to the online muckraker, Malami, a little know lawyer allegedly acquired the properties within five years of being in office.
The ongoing Magu-Malami collision has made more prominent Nigerians and opposition parties speak out in the media, especially social media where Buhari’s silence has been interpreted as shielding the AGF.
Even some of Buhari’s associates are no less worried.
“It may not be contestable that Malami has been exploiting his alleged loyalty and closeness to the President for his personal /power bloc agenda,” said Professor Femi Odekunle, a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, said in a press release.
“For, to the best of PACAC’s knowledge and observations, Malami has not manifested any genuine commitment to the anti-corruption fight.”
Thumbs-down like this coming from within ad outside the government have ripple effects.
Buhari himself rode on the power of mass revolt and sentiment against corruption to win the hearts and minds of those who had faith in him while he was contesting.
That the president is ignoring the rising sentiments now, observers say, could rock his administration to its foundation very soon.
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