September 9, 2016

In defence of the AGF Abubakar Malami

THE common saying that “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” seems to be the lot of Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. A man with genteel disposition and one that is not enamoured by the attractions of high office, Mr. Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria has been in the saddle for less than two years, but his fight against graft in public offices is already having a backlash on his person and reputation.

Due to his determination to recover Nigeria’s looted funds, some vested interests, and even fraudsters are now heaping insults and false accusations against him, all in a bid to break his will in continuing the fight. Nonetheless, the Abubakar Malami that I know will not waver nor falter in his assigned task, as his love for country and loyalty to President Buhari’s anti-corruption fight is unequivocal and unquestionable.

One begins to wonder why a certain Nigerian lawyer will accuse the Attorney General of asking for kickback in the return of about $458m Abacha loot. Obviously, such allegation smacks of blackmail and a calculated attempt to undermine Mr. Malami’s determination to repatriate all Nigeria’s stolen funds abroad.

It is pertinent to point out that throughout Mr. Malami’s day in the bar, and later National Legal Adviser of defunct Congress for Progressive Change he never wavered or left anyone in doubt on the need to combat corruption in Nigeria. It is therefore strange that a certain Nigerian US-based attorney will choose to malign his sterling reputation, simply because of his insistence that all the Abacha looted funds should be returned to the Federal Government.

It is worthy of note that under the new Attorney General, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been rejuvenated and has been professionalised in the way and manner they execute their duties. So far, they have recovered for the Federal Government over N3Trillion. This is an amount that ordinarily would have been in private pockets, and Nigerians will continue to wallow in poverty. With the recoveries, critical infrastructures such as roads, power, railways, health, education and others will be fixed and the ultimate beneficiaries are Nigerians.

The Attorney General has also continued to carry out his responsibilities within the framework of the constitution, as we no longer have cases of arbitrary arrests and trampling of the fundamental human rights of citizens. Rather, we are witnessing total observation of the rule of law and the recent inspection of EFCC detention cells to the press is a testimony that under Malami’s watch rule of law has become the norm.

It is indeed disheartening that some unscrupulous elements among us will always want to throw darts on performing government functionaries, all in a bid to intimidate or harangue them to do their bidding. Or how else can we describe a situation where the Abacha looted funds which ought to have returned to Nigeria from the United States are being withheld because of the unpatriotic actions of some Nigerians.

There is the need for total attitudinal change among Nigerians, and the Federal Government re-orientation programmes such as “Change start with me” are timely as they will help to sensitize Nigerians on the need to be patriotic. For us as a nation to make progress in the war against corruption there is the need to support the Justice Minister in his efforts to recover looted funds, as well as reposition the justice sector.

In this era of dwindling oil fortune, all hands must be on deck to ensure that Nigeria’s stolen wealth which have been stashed in foreign countries are urgently repatriated. It is the height of irresponsibility and unpatriotism for some individuals to constitute themselves into obstacles in ensuring better lives for Nigerian citizens.

In these trying times of the nation’s history, we owe it a duty to ensure that well-meaning government officials like the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami are given the necessary support to realise the objective of ridding our country of corruption. The effort he has so far invested in the recovery of looted funds should not be wasted on the altar of frivolous allegations and blackmail.

As a consummate lawyer, he has being in the vanguard of the advocacy for good governance and integrity in governance and it is too late in the day to distract him from those lofty goals. One can only implore him not to lose focus but devote his time and energy in ensuring that the cankerworm of corruption and dishonesty are eliminated from the Justice sector and the entire public service sector.

Perhaps I need to remind these  framers that they are on a wild goose chase as Nigerians have already reposed their confidence in the current ATTORNEY GENERAL as his antecedents are glaring and inspiring and no amount of false allegations will change Nigerians’ good disposition towards him.

Mr. Chukwudi Enekwechi, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Abuja.