The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, yesterday expressed disappointment at comments made by chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN, to the effect that he was not committed to the anti-corruption efforts of the government.
Sagay spoke at a programme organised by the National Association of Seadogs (the Pyrates Confraternity), entitled “Feast of Barracuda” with the theme “Critical Review of the Anti-Corruption War in Nigeria: Strategies, Challenges and Prospects.”
He said: “The Federal Government, particularly the President and Vice-President, who were elected into office principally to eliminate corruption, must go back to their drawing board, search and scan the constitution and other laws to draw the requisite irresistible power to deal firmly with this terrible scourge of our times, otherwise we are all dead.”
A member of PACAC, Professor Femi Odekunle also spoke in like manner at the event. Frontally, Odekunle wondered if the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), was committed to the anti-graft war and further questioned the honesty of the Code of Conduct Tribunal chairman, Mr. Danladi Umar, who discharged and acquitted Senate President, Bukola Saraki of all 18 charges levelled against him in the false asset declaration case.
His words: “Does the Presidency realise that routine crime prevention and methodology, instruments and processes are not adequate in fighting corruption in this country? That is, does the Presidency realise that fighting corruption must be a ‘rofo rofo’ fight?
That it is not a question of due process, long process, fair hearing and all those that will give you technical justice instead of real justice? “Is the Attorney-General of the Federation, who is to lead the anti-corruption fight, going by the way things have been going in the past two years, as committed as others who could have done the job better? I have no answers but I believe if they are answered, it will give us an insight into the cause of our current dilemma in the fight against corruption.”
But Malami in a statement issued by his spokesman, Isah Salihu, regretted that Sagay and other members of PACAC, who ought to know better, were now the same people making unguarded statements against him.
Explaining that the Federal Government was more than ever committed to the eradication of corruption in the country, the statement said: ‘’The Attorney General asked Nigerians not to condemn the anti-corruption drive of the present administration based on temporary setbacks recorded lately.
“Attorney General of the Federation wishes to assure Nigerians that despite some recent setbacks recorded in some of the cases involving politically exposed people, the war against corruption is fully on course. “It shall be fought resolutely, painstakingly, doggedly, purposefully and determinedly with all the constitutional and legal arsenals at the disposal of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“In this regard, the AGF has directed that a Notice of Appeal be lodged against the ruling of the Code of Conduct Tribunal acquitting and discharging false assets declaration case preferred against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki. “To those in a hurry to condemn due to the temporary setbacks recorded lately, they should tarry awhile because a legal process is deemed not concluded until it terminates at the Supreme Court which is the highest court of arbitration in Nigeria.
“The Attorney-General is disappointed that the Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, led Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, PACAC, had at a public function recently, questioned his commitment towards the war against corruption in the country.
“He is highly disappointed that such accusation and statement could be made by those who ought to know better. “The Attorney General of the Federation is saddened and flummoxed at the attempt to cast aspersions on his integrity, dedication and commitment to the war against corruption which undoubtedly is one of the major cornerstones of the present administration.’’