August 3, 2017

AGF Malami, Magu head for showdown over high-profile cases

AGF Malami, Magu head for showdown over high-profile cases

Malami and Magu

By Kenneth Ehigiator, News Editor
Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, SAN, may clash with Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, following alleged breach of the rules in the latter’s prosecutions, especially in high profile cases.

Malami and Magu

A top official of the anti-graft agency told online portal, TheCable, that the EFCC acting Chairman was served a letter from the office of the Attorney-General on Tuesday, asking him to comply with regulations in prosecution of high profile cases.

There was a similar showdown between the AGF and EFCC in 2007 when Michael Aondoakaa, then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, sought to take over the prosecutorial powers of the anti-graft agency, headed by Nuhu Ribadu at the time.

The Attorney-General, Malami, is said to have accused the EFCC boss of violating section 10(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Enforcement) Regulations 2010.

The regulation mandates the EFCC to forward the outcome of investigations along with its recommendations to the AGF in cases or complaints that are “serious or complex”.

A case is considered “serious or complex” if it has significant international dimension or involves money or assets of a value exceeding N50 million or requires specialised knowledge of financial, commercial, fiscal or regulatory matters such as the operations of the markets, banking systems, trusts or tax regimes.

It is also considered serious if it involves allegations of fraudulent activities against numerous victims.

Similarly, a case is also considered serious if it involves a significant loss of money by a ministry or department or public body, or is likely to be of widespread public concern or involves an alleged misconduct which amounts to economic sabotage.

After the EFCC must have conducted the investigations, it is then left to the office of the AGF to decide whether or not there are sufficient grounds to initiate prosecution, according to the regulation.

What the AGF has against EFCC

But the AGF is said to be peeved that the anti-graft agency is not doing this, thus breaching the regulations guiding its operations.

EFCC officials believe Malami is seeking to take over the prosecution of cases handled by the commission in order to water down the anti-graft war, but sources in his office, according to the The Cable, said he was trying to reassert himself, “having been persistently sidelined by the anti-graft agencies under his supervision.”

Only last weekend, Special Assistant to the President on Prosecutions, Okoi Obono-Obla, threatened that Malami would report chairmen of the EFCC, and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences, ICPC, Ibrahim Magu and Ekpo Nta, respectively, to the Presidency for breaching the rules.

He accused the agencies of withholding the case files of more than 35 former governors and senators from the AGF.

Obono-Obla said the failure to forward the files to the AGF since July 2016, when the request was made, had caused a setback to the anti-graft war.

He also blamed the strings of losses recorded in high-profile cases on the “breach” by the anti-graft agencies.

He accused the EFCC and ICPC of failing to cooperate with Malami, which had led to the loss of some high-profile corruption cases.

But EFCC’s Head of Legal Department, GK Latona, had since denied claims of not cooperating with the AGF.

“We are not working at cross purposes with the office of the Attorney General of the Federation; we are cooperating with them. We have a wide range of corruption cases in concert with state agencies,’’ Latona said.

He also said the attorney-general’s office had the right to initiate new high-profile corruption cases and investigate them without waiting for cases initiated by the EFCC.

Chairman of ICPC, Ekpo Nta, was on Tuesday, redeployed from the agency to the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission by Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.