Prosecute Malami or lose global respect, International partners tell Buhari
By Samuel Ogunsona
Nigeria’s major partners in the anti-corruption drive have launched a new wave of campagn to ensure the Federal Government prosecutes the country’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
The global groups were ahead of blowing off the roof exposing Malami’s literary home of high profile sleaze and corruption. 14 cases of corruption allegations were levelled against the Attorney General mid last week. If the allegations are found to be true, Malami will go down in history as one of the most corrupt people in Nigerian history.
The groups in the leter made available to Irohinoodua said failure to investigate Malami would deliver a fatal blow to the reputation of the Presidency abroad.
“We have long defended your anti-corruption campaign against malign charges that it is targeted against political opponents and that friends of your administration are protected. Were Attorney General Malami to remain uninvestigated, we fear that the ground would be cut from beneath our feet. What is sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander. Mr Malami cannot be indulged or treated differently from Mr Magu. To do so would send a disastrous signal”, the groups said.
In a letter addressed to President Buhari on Tuesday, three leading international anti-corruption groups, CornerHouse, Re:Common and Globalwitness asked the President to show his genuine commitment to the anti-corruption drive by investigating the series of allegations levelled against the country’s No 1 law officer.
The letter signed by Nicholar Hildyard of CornerHouse, Luca Manes of Re:Common and Simon Taylor of GlobalWitness warned that Nigeria risk losing the support of her partners across the world in the drive to retrieve stolen wealth unless the Federal Government proves it was not playing the ostrich in the anti-corruption campaign.
The efforts of the three groups were pivotal to the recovery of billions of dollars stached away by Nigerian corrupt officials. They in recent times have expressed apprehension that the campaign appears to risk being hijacked by corrupt political interests following the dramatic axe of the former Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu.
For instance, the prosecutions and investigations of Shell, Eni and others in Italy and The Netherlands are a direct result of information the groups have supplied to the prosecutorial authorities apart from engaging with Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies, whose commitment under President Buhari the groups said have never failed to impress us.
The groups pour encomiums on the initial zeal of President Buhari but express concern that the tempo seems to be waning.
“Over the past decade we have worked assiduously to investigate and expose corruption in Nigeria and the role played by institutions and governments in the West in enabling such corruption. We have done so in the public interest, not in search of financial reward. We hope that this record has earned us some measure of respect and that you will indulge us if we are frank. Those in a position of command are often shielded from unwelcome opinions and facts by advisors” the groups said in a letter sent to Buhari on Tuesday.
Quoting a poet Omar Khayyam, the groups said there are all too many advisors who, when the king says it is midnight at noon, say “Behold the moon” out of sycophancy, misplaced loyalty or an unwillingness to rock the boat.
“We are not of that ilk. As long-standing friends of Nigeria, who have supported your courageous fight against corruption from the first days of your Presidency, it would be remiss of us if we were not to share our concerns over recent developments which are casting increasingly long shadows over the hopes that, under your leadership, Nigeria is at last emerging from an era where looting was the norm to a new age of prosperity where Nigeria’s wealth will be safeguarded for the benefit of all Nigerians” the groups said.
Ait recalled that along with others in the international anti-corruption movement, the groups have been taken aback by the handling of allegations made by the Attorney General against the Acting Chair of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu.
“ We have written to you previously to express our concerns and will not repeat them here, other than to underline that those concerns arise from the troubling lack of due process accorded to Mr Magu. To be clear: we fully support the investigation of any official whose conduct is under suspicion. The rule of law rests on everyone – no matter who they are – being subject to the law. As the great jurist Thomas Fuller put it: ““Be you never so high, the Law is above you.”
The groups expressed support for the CSNAC and others in Nigeria that the allegations made against the Attorney General, as detailed in CSNAC’s Memorandum, must be investigated with the same vigour as those made against Mr Magu.
To date, they observed, efforts have been directed at giving every possible support to the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria and to the civil society organisations that are fighting corruption adding that this will remain the case so long as the official fight against corruption goes in the right direction. However, the groups noted that any hint that the corrupt are being protected would of necessity mean that “our investigative efforts would increasingly be focussed on assisting civil society in exposing those whose political contacts enable them to escape the net. We would also give technical support to efforts to achieve justice through private prosecutions.”
It ended the call with a strong call on Mr President to investigate the allegations against Malami immediately.
“You have no greater admirers in the international anti-corruption movement than us. Your legacy should be one that stands amongst the tallest in Africa. Few have achieved what you have achieved in bringing the corrupt to book. Please do not allow that legacy to be tarnished by the actions of rogue elements. The surest way to protect it is to insist that all allegations of corruption are treated equally.”
They argued that now that evidence of credible allegations against Mr Malami have been made, Mr Malami must be investigated and suspended from office during the investigation.