The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Thursday, said the anti-corruption agencies would beam their searchlight on banks that had been aiding corrupt practices in the country. He said the Federal Government, through his ministry, would work closely with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission to ensure that banks involved in corrupt practices are sanctioned.
Speaking during his first full day in office in Abuja after his Wednesday’s re-appointment as the AGF, Malami also promised to pursue judicial reforms, including proposing an amendment to the Constitution, that would provide an innovative way to tackle congestion of cases at the Supreme Court.
On financial institutions’ involvement in corruption, he said, “As bad news to the rogues within our financial system, in the next four years, the Federal Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with anti-corruption agencies, will beam searchlight on the financial institutions and non-designated financial institutions in order to make them pay dearly for the dastardly roles they played and are still playing in encouraging and deepening corruption in Nigeria.
“From arms procurement fraud, INEC bribery case to Diezani case and several others, quantitative data available to the Federal Government abundantly shows that financial institutions are directly involved in most of the major corruption cases investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission from 2015 till date.”
Nigerians behind UK’s $9bn judgment’ll be punished —Justice minister: Malami also said the Federal Government would bring to book former and current government officials who caused the August 19, 2019 award of $9bn by a British court against Nigeria. He said the anti-corruption agencies, under his watch, would be beaming searchlight on banks, and other financial institutions, and non-designated financial institutions, which he said “are involved in most of the major corruption cases.”
A United Kingdom court presided over by Justice Butcher had on August 16, 2019, awarded $9bn in favour a foreign firm, Process and Industrial Developments Limited. The court did this by granting an enforcement application which converted the arbitration award secured by the Process and Industrial Development Limited into a domestic UK judgment against Nigeria. The Federal Government had insisted that the money was awarded in favour of the Process and Industrial Development Limited despite that the 20 years old project of accelerated gas development, in Nigeria’s OMLs 67 and 123, for which it was meant for was never executed. It said it would take steps to stop the enforcement of the judgment. On Thursday, Malami described the award by the UK court as sad, and dubbed it as part of the “consequences of the underhand dealings of the past administrations.”
He said, “Sadly, in spite of the spirited and concerted efforts of the current administration to combat corrupt practices and rent seeking in all its forms, Nigerians woke up on Friday, August 16, 2019 to the rudest consequences of the underhand dealings of the past administration that has resulted in the award of $9bn against the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by a British court which ruled that Process and Industrial Development Limited had the right to seize $9bn in Nigerian assets.”
He noted that the dispute that led to the “arbitration between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Process and Industrial Development Limited which consequently resulted in the said court ruling arose from a 20-year Gas Supply Processing Agreement purportedly entered with Process and Industrial Development Limited by the past administration in 2010 which contract P&ID by the past administration in 2010 which contracted P&ID never performed as agreed.” He said steps would be taken to bring everyone involved to book.
The minister said, “That being said, it must be placed on record that the Federal Government strongly views with serious concerns the underhand manners by which the negotiation, signing and formation of the contract was carried out by some vested interests in the past administration in connivance with their local and international conspirators all in a bid to inflict grave economic adversity on the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the good people of Nigeria.
“As a government that has the mandate of the people, and their interests at heart, we shall not fold our arms and allow this injustice to go unpunished as all efforts, actions and steps shall be taken to bring to book all private individuals, corporate entities and government officials — home or abroad and past or present — that played direct and indirect roles in the conception, negotiation, signing, formation as well as prosecution of the purported agreement.” He also promised to pursue, during his second term, “judicial reforms”, targeted at including, contribution of the ministry to “improving security, fighting corruption and fixing the economy for the greater benefit of all Nigerians.”
He promised to ensure the collaboration with the judiciary and the legislature with a view to “designing and proposing a workable constitutional amendment towards ensuring better efficiency of the Nigerian judiciary. Malami said, “This will certainly involve a reconsideration of the subject-matter/cause of action jurisdiction of our courts in which such an innovative manner that will limit the nature of disputes and appeals that get to the Supreme Court which is currently battling with backlog of cases.”
The minister, however, said the reform he would seek would be “mindful of not recklessly disrupting the existing structure, but as systematic, pragmatic, cost-efficient and objective as much as practicable.” The minister also said he would ensure a harmonious working relationship among all the nation’s anti-corruption and law enforcements’ agencies, by holding quarterly meetings with them.
Thursday’s event was attended by members of staff and top officials of the Federal Ministry of Justice, as well as heads of the various agencies and parastatals under the supervision of the ministry. They rendered goodwill messages at the event, which also saw the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr Dayo Apata, who took over the affairs of the ministry on May 28, 2019, present a handover note to Malami. Punch
Pix: EFCC operatives