AGF denies report he stalled corrupt case against former Katsina governor, others
RE: N5.7 billion SURE-P Fund: Court terminates former Katsina govt. officials’ trial
The Premium Times in its edition of November 27, 2018 reported in the opening paragraph of its story that “the Katsina State High Court has terminated the trial of three former officials of the state government charged with misappropriating over N5.7 billion SURE-P funds because the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, failed to hand over the case file to the prosecution.
And in the fourth and fifth paragraphs, it said, “The AGF had directed the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Commission (ICPC), which investigated the matter, to hand it over to the state government for prosecution. He then asked the commission to forward the case file to his office to transfer to the state government.
At the last adjourned date, the permanent secretary in the state Ministry of Justice, Abdulsalam Sabiu, told the court Mr. Malami had collected the case file from the ICPC but did not hand it over to the state government before he travelled out of the country.
“My Lord, the case cannot go on today because we are still not in possession of the case file. We have not been given the case file by the ICPC”, the Premium Times quoted counsel to the Katsina state government, Aminu Ibrahim telling the court in the eight paragraph of the story.
In the twelfth paragraph, it quoted Mr. Adamu Yerima, counsel to the accused persons asking “Why did they (ICPC) refuse to hand over the case to Katsina state government so that they can prosecute the matter properly? It appears that the ICPC are the ones who don’t want the case to continue.”
However, the prosecution counsel, Mr Ibrahim, told PREMIUM TIMES the court ruling did not acquit but only implies the state government may pursue the case when it obtains the case file from the ICPC.
While it is the opinion of Premium Times that “the termination of the case may have confirmed the fears of the ICPC when it initially objected to handing over the case.”, it further stated that, “The ICPC and the opposition in the state had raised concerns that the move by the state government to take over the case was to frustrate the trial.”
It is observed that the content of the story did not depict the headline and its opening paragraph. Besides, it was approached with a clearly biased mindset right from onset.
It is observed that while the ICPC featured consistently in the subsequent paragraphs, the Premium Times ensured it started the story by alleging that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice failed to hand over the case file to the prosecution, which led to the court terminating the case and discharging the three officials standing trial.
It is observed that the uncoordinated and disjointed report in one breadth alleges Malami is holding the case file, and in another; that it is the ICPC.
And in response to the content of its fourth and fifth paragraphs, at no time did the HAGF/MOJ directed the ICPC to hand over the file to the Katsina State government but did not hand it over before he travelled out of the country as it claimed. On the contrary, he had bluntly refused as shown below.
However, the quote of Aminu Ibrahim, counsel to the state government saying, “We have not been given the case file by ICPC” did not also support Premium Times position that the HAGF/MOJ had collected the case file from ICPC.
The Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice therefore wishes to state categorically that the Premium Times report is not only malicious and odious, but an attempt by the publication to continue on its avowed insistence to tarnish the image and reputation of the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General’s Chamber.
The write-up which has the elements of a hatchet job to disparage the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice misrepresented the role played by him on the matter in its entirety.
The truth of the matter is that, contrary to the report, The Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in response to the letter of the Katsina state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice with reference number DPPA/REQ/510/18 dated 29th November, 2018 and titled, RE: REQUEST FOR CASE FILE FROM INDEPENDENT CORRUPT PRACTICES AND OTHER RELATED OFFENCES COMMISSION (ICPC) IN RESPECT OF CHARGES NOS. KTH/9C/2017-FRN VS ALHAJI ABDULAZIZ ABDULLAHI SHINKAFI AND ONE OTHER AND KTH/SC/2017-FRN VS NASIRU INGAWA AND ONE OTHER, the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mohammed Umar Etsu had written and I quote:
“I am further directed to inform you that after a careful study of your request, it is the directive of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation that the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Commission (ICPC) be allowed to continue the prosecution of the case.”
The letter by the Katsina state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Ahmad Usman Muhammad El-Marzuq reference number MOJ/KT/CON.10/VOL.1/142 titled as above was dated 28/08/2018 for which a reminder dated 30th October, 2018 was sent to the AGF/MOJ. State inter alia:
“I wish to further seek for the intervention of your office to facilitate the release of the case files, in respect of the above mentioned cases, to me, by the ICPC for the reasons stated in our earlier letter reference NO. MOJ/KT/CON.10/VOL… of 20th March, 2017, that is to say, to enable the me (sic) to discontinue criminal proceedings against the accused persons and turn them to state witnesses in respect of charge NO. FHC/KT/26C/2017 FRN VS Ibrahim Shehu Shema (Copy attached).
“I also wish to request you to grant your fiat to me to discontinue criminal proceedings against the accused persons in the charges before the High Court of Justice, Katsina State as the patience of the court has been exhausted by our persistent requests for the adjournments of the cases, to enable me get the case files as well as your fiat based on clause (2)(c) of your fiat dated 7th July, 2017 (copy attached). The High Court is threatening to strike out the cases for want of diligent prosecution.”, the letter continued.
Consequently, and in view of the above, the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice note the seeming rabid desire by a cross section of the media to tarnish the image and reputation of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
The Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice therefore calls on Premium Times to retract the portion of its story which misrepresented the role played by the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation’s Chamber, and to publicly tender an unreserved apology to it through the same medium within 48 hours after the publication of this press release.
You are advised to tow the line of wisdom to put records in its proper perspective; as no amount of blackmail or subterranean illusion can obliterate the patriotic zeal of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
Thank you for your understanding,
Comrade Salihu Othman Isah
Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN
Monday, December 3rd, 2018