Dismissing as deceptive and illegal the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Alhaji Abubakar Malami, to investigate the allegation of fraud made against some key government officials, a call has gone to President Buhari to order their sack and prosecution instead.
A pro-transparency and Non-Governmental Organization, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, made the observations in a statement on Wednesday.
HURIWA stated that available body of evidence as tendered to the National Assembly are strong enough to constitute the materials needed for the prosecution of the duo of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, Ibrahim Magu, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Babachir Lawal.
It said: “The directive for another probe by the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice who himself has come under intense accusations of fraudulent practices and other illegality such as authorising a misguided secret policing institution to embark on the midnight invasion of private homes of judges can not now be seen investigating other accused high profile government officials some of whom are his political party partners. This is an attempt at time wasting and is diversionary.”
According to the statement issued jointly by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Zaianb Yusuf, HURIWA said there is no provision known to the constitution or indeed any extant statute that clothed the office of the AGF with the typical police authorities of investigation.
The rights group said the appropriate step that ought to have been adopted by President Buhari was to have directed the Nigeria Police Force to arrest Magu and Lawal and jointly work with the office of the AGF to commerce immediate prosecution in the competent courts of law under section 6 of the Nigeria constitution.
The rights group argued that the specific constitutional provisions that created the office and functions of the Federal Attorney General did not award the power of investigation to the holder of the Office of the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Citing section 174 (1) (a) (b) and (c) and subsection (2) and (3) of the constitution the Rights group said it would amount political forum shopping for President Buhari to have asked the Justice minister to carry out a routine policing responsibilities.
More specifically, HURIWA cited 174. (1) of the Nigerian Constitution which unambiguously provided thus: “The Attorney-General of the Federation shall have power -(a) To institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in Nigeria, other than a court-martial, in respect of any offence created by or under any Act of the National Assembly; (b) To take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that may have been instituted by any other authority or person; and (c) To discontinue at any stage before judgment is delivered any such criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by him or any other authority or person.”
Besides, the group said that subsection (2) of the aforementioned section states that: “The powers conferred upon the Attorney-General of the Federation under subsection (1) of this section may be exercised by him in person or through officers of his department,” even as subsection (3) affirmed thus: “In exercising his powers under this section, the Attorney-General of the Federation shall have regard to the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process.”
The rights group said the federal attorney general only has prosecutorial powers just as it has cautioned against the ongoing plots to use the office of the Federal Attorney General as a smokescreen to weave the wool of mass confusion on the watching public with the underlying objective of providing soft landing to the top government officials who have breached the Federal Government’s anti-corruption standpoint for their own personal aggrandisement.
The group said President Buhari must be reminded that no Nigerian is indispensable.