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Corruption Responsible For Agitations In Nigeria, Says AGF

Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN) , Attorney General and Minister of Justice, on Wednesday said the ongoing agitations by various groups in the country was being fuelled by corruption.

Malami spoke in Lagos at a Media Roundtable on Approaches for the Completion and Effective Prosecution of Abandoned, Unresolved and Longstanding High-profile Reports and Cases of Corruption in Nigeria.

The roundtable was organised by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in collaboration with Trust Africa.

The minister who was represented by Chief Okoi Obono-Obla (SAN) , disclosed that Nigeria had about 39 unresolved high-profile corruption cases.

Malami accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC) of not cooperating with the AGF’s office in the fight against corruption.

He noted that the AGF office had since June 2016 written to both agencies to forward the files of all politically exposed persons cases in their custody to the AGF, adding that both agencies had failed to do so up till now.

“It is not President Muhammadu Buhari’s war. It is a Nigerian war. It is corruption that is fighting back in various agitations across the country,”Malami said.

He also accused senior lawyers of frustrating the anti-graft war despite the provisions of Sections 306 and 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which mandated acceleration of cases before the court.

Responding, the head of the EFCC prosecution team in Lagos, Mr G.K. Latina, however maintained that the agency was ready to cooperate with the AGF in the anti-corruption campaign.

“The anti-corruption agencies, particularly EFCC, are not working at cross purposes with the office of the AGF.

“We are all working for the benefit of the country but we are doing our work within the confines of the EFCC Act, ” he said.

Also speaking, Prof. Akinseye George (SAN), President, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, called for the setting up of a comprehensive data base to track grand corruption cases.

He said :”There is need for a reliable source of information on these cases.

“SERAP and other civil society groups should assist the government in setting up a comprehensive data base to track and monitor these cases. ”

On his part, Mr Oluwakemi Balogun (SAN), National Legal Adviser, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), urged lawyers to desist from various tactics aimed at stalling prosecution of corruption cases.

“Our courts must be very firm and report to the NBA if a counsel is frustrating a case. No matter how highly placed such a person is, the NBA will deal with him or her, “Balogun said.

Earlier in his address of welcome, the Executive Director of SERAP, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the purpose of the gathering was to deliberate on how to fasttrack corruption cases in the country.

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