………as agency shun request to handover case files of ex-Govs
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Ongoing cold war between the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, may frustrate the trial of more than 35 ex-governors.
Investigation by Vanguard revealed that the anti-graft agency had yet to transfer case files of the affected public officials to the AGF, though the request was made since July 2016.
It was further learnt that the rift between Malami and Magu was worsened by the AGF’s insistence that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, must be separated from the EFCC.
Further probe by Vanguard revealed that Malami had in a memo marked HAGF/SH/2016/Vol.1/2, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, expedite the process of securing autonomy for the NFIU which has been under the control of EFCC since it was established in 2006.
According to section 1(2) (c) of the EFCC Act, it is the NFIU that has “the responsibility of coordinating the various institutions involved in the fight against money laundering and enforcement of all laws dealing with economic and financial crimes in Nigeria”.
It will be recalled that the Egmont Group of national financial intelligence units, had at its 24th Plenary that held in China in July, suspended Nigeria for what it termed lack of independence of the NFIU from the EFCC.
The group, at the meeting where about 354 participants representing 112 Financial Intelligence Units were in attendance, anchored its decision to axe Nigeria, on repeated failure to protect confidential information relating to Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) derived from international exchanges, which it made available to the NFIU.
The group, which is the highest inter-governmental association of intelligence agencies in the world, gave Nigeria until December to comply with its standards on financial intelligence or risk expulsion in 2018.
Following the threat which came whilst President Buhari was on medical vacation, the then Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, promptly constituted a Presidential Adhoc Committee headed by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Chukwuka Utazi.
Mandate of the adhoc committee included to recommend and facilitate legal and regulatory measures to ensure the financial and operational autonomy of the NFIU, as well to recommend other necessary steps to be taken by relevant stakeholders to ensure the restoration of Nigeria’s membership on the Egmont Group.
Meanwhile, the AGF, through his memo, persuaded President Buhari to re-transmit the Proceed of Crime Bill and Nigeria Financial Intelligence Centre Bill, to the National Assembly.
Though the two Bills were previously passed by the 7th National Assembly in 2015, however, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan could not assent to them before his tenure elapsed.
Consequently, Malami, SAN, urged President Buhari to re-transmit them to the National Assembly.
The AGF’s memo read in part; “In view of the fact that the thirty (30) days time limit permitted under Section 58 (5) of the Constitution for assent to a Bill has expired, I respectfully wish to request Mr. President to re-transmit the Bills to the 8th Assembly for accelerated hearing, as may be permitted by its Rules. I have reviewed the two Bills which are Executive Bills and can confirm that they are consistent with the agenda of the present administration.
“The two Bills have been prioritized because they will support the fight against corruption, money laundering, terrorism, kidnapping, oil theft and a host of other crimes that are related to financial crimes. They will also enhance the legal measures for the recovery and management of stolen asset and ensure that all assets are recovered from within Nigeria and outside Nigeria in a prompt manner.”
The memo signed by the AGF with the two Bills attached, dispatched and acknowledged same day by the presidency had as prayers that, “In the light of the above, Your Excellency is graciously invited to re-transmit the above-mentioned two Bills to the National Assembly for consideration and passage, please”, it concluded.
Besides, the adhoc committee that was setup by Prof. Osinbajo is expected to conclude its assignment and submit final report to the Presidency at the end of this month.
Meanwhile, the case files yet to be transmitted to the AGF as requested, included those involving the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki who was former governor of Kwara State, Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu); Saminu Turaki (Jigawa); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Joshua Dariye (Plateau); Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara); Ali Modu Sheriff (Borno); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); James Ibori (Delta); Martin Elechi (Ebonyi); Danjuma Goje (Gombe); Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); Ikedi Ohakim (Imo); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Achike Udenwa (Imo).
Others are Jolly Nyame (Taraba); Rasheed Ladoja (Oyo); Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo); Adamu Mu’azu (Bauchi); Lucky Igbinedion (Edo) and Peter Odili (Rivers) and Ubong Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom).