The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN has charged lawyers in the country to fashion out, promote and defend a national culture that would regard obedience to the rule of law as a desirable goal, rather than an aberration.
He gave this charge in a paper he delivered at the ongoing 56th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association and titled, ‘One Year Later: Review of Law and Change Under the Buhari Administration’ in Port Harcourt, River s State.
In a press statement issued by Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Minister and made available to newsmen in Abuja.
Isah said Malami at the conference with the theme, ‘Democracy and Economic Development’ enjoined those in the legal practice to do all that is humanly possible and permissible in law to ensure that Nigerians home and in the Diaspora is no longer described as rule breakers.
The AGF reiterated that section 106 of the administration of criminal Justice Act, 2015 transferred the duties of prosecuting all criminal matters to the Federal Ministry of Justice thereby, prohibiting prosecution by police who are not trained Lawyers.
Malami further made known that his ministry had so far taken over about 8000 case files from police for prosecution.
He also advised the judicial arm of government to be transparent in the use of its powers as enshrined in Section 6(6)(c) of the 1999 constitution as amended, frowning at the abuse of judicial process in the courts which is evident in the proliferation of counter judgments and orders by courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
“Multiplicity of counter judgment and orders by the court of coordinate jurisdiction on the same matter does not encourage the desired confidence building in the judicial process”.
The Chief Law Officer reiterated at the forum that the policy thrust of President Muhammadu Buhari was anchored on the fight against corruption, building a safer, secured nation and improving the economy that will provide answers to national interest questions that brought about the change.
He further explained that the anti-corruption fight was aimed at not only to arrest, investigate and prosecute criminals but includes preventing the crimes from being committed through the rigorous application of extant laws and regulations in all strata of our national lives.
Other benefits of the anti-corruption war includes: holding persons indicted by the investigators accountable by filling appropriate charges against them in the courts, recover individual loots in the public domain and redirect such funds to the developmental needs of government etc.
Malami emphasized that the administration of Muhamadu Buhari has put Nigeria back in the book of records among comity of nations that abhor corruption and the ills it portends.
“On the international scene, there is no doubt that there is a greater global awareness on the part of international partners that Nigeria government now exhibits greater political will in its capacity to pursue and recover national assets abroad”.
“We have therefore, begun to receive greater cooperation from all such foreign entities”.
He also disclosed that Nigeria government had signed agreement with Swiss government that will engender the repatriation of about USD321 million back to the country.
“Recently, we signed MOU with Swiss Federation that will ensure the imminent repatriation of USD321 Million Nigeria funds in Switzerland. We are equally addressing, through a robust Mutual Legal Assistance Mechanism, the challenges which had hitherto tied down assets in excess of USD500 million in jurisdictions such as the United States , Jersey Islands and United Kingdom”, he added.
In the renewed fight against corruption and the reinvigorated efforts to repatriate home illicit funds, Abubakar Malami revealed that Nigeria government had signed critical agreements with United Arab Emirates.
According to him, “In January, we signed four critical agreements with the United Arab Emirates which is a favourite destination of Nigeria Funds to enable us commence long term cooperation to block and recover illicit funds in that jurisdiction”.
He added by saying, that imprisonment is no long enough deterrent for treasury looters, that compelling them to make restitution through the disgorgement of the proceeds of crime within the ambits of law will be explored.