From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), said the Federal Government did not go after sponsors of quit notice to Igbo living in the northern part of the country because of its security implications.
The AGF also blamed the rift between him and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, over prosecution of high profile cases on negative media reports.
He spoke at a media briefing in Abuja, yesterday, on the activities and progress made by his ministry. Malami said his ministry has concluded a total of 296 terrorism cases between 2015 and 2016, while a total of 6,646 criminal cases ranging from oil theft, culpable homicide, rape, armed robbery, unlawful possession of arms and murder, among others.
“The issue involves a lot of investigations, but most importantly, government considered the security implications on the issue. Let me state that government is alive to its responsibility and whoever is found wanting will be prosecuted. This administration is determined to provide good governance and promote justice, peace and fairness.
On the rift between him and Magu, the AGF said “the issue arose as a result of negative reporting emanating from the press, but I am a positive person, I don’t speak on negative things.”
The minister blamed delay in the recovery of $15 million arms money seized from Nigeria by the Government of South Africa, in September 2014, on the cumbersome legal process between the two countries.
“The recovery process involves mostly nations whose legal systems have diverse processes; diplomatic considerations equally play roles over and above international conventions and best practices. So, when multiplicity of legal systems became an issue, multiplicity of diplomatic engagement is in contention, delay is naturally bound to set in.”
Malami, however, disclosed that the Federal Government is doing everything possible to ensure the recovery of the money. The AGF, who expressed worry over the lack of legal expertise in the conduct and process of investigations by security agencies in the country, announced the establishment of an Investigation Unit within his ministry.
He said “the unit shall coordinate and form part of every investigation in Nigeria towards successful prosecution of criminal cases,” and added that “the unit will address the anomalies that lead to consistent rejection of vital evidence in the course of prosecution because of the inappropriate investigation.”
Malami said the unit will, among other things, ensure that every investigation is comprehensively and conclusively conducted.
On the issue of prison decongestion, the minister said the federal government will establish a case management system to integrate with existing prison information management system covering Lagos, Enugu and the Federal Capital Territory.
The AGF also announced that his ministry was working on getting the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the installation and implementation of a state of the art modern Virtual Automated Case Management System (V-ACMS) to incorporate an online up-to-date integrated biometrics prisoners’ information technology that would strengthen the operations of the federal justice sector institutions and eliminate bottlenecks in the administration of criminal justice system in the country.
He said the pressing problem in the Nigerian Prisons system was the over crowding caused by the majority of prisoners awaiting trial, and added that modalities will be put in place to reduce prisoners’ population, while the committee on prerogative of mercy will further consider and recommend inmates that would be granted state pardon.
The minister said the judgment department profile of the ministry stood at N113 billion as at last year, which he said necessitated the reestablishment of the Judgment Department Verification Committee to assist in reducing the quantum of the department against the Federal Government, by reaching a compromise with judgment-creditors on modalities and payment of such departments.