The Federal Government on Tuesday declared that there would be no sacred cows in the trial of persons indicted recently by the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Management.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, who appeared as one of the guests at the Ministerial Platform programme in Abuja, said the Federal Government had finally received the report of the committee and is committed to prosecuting indicted officials.
“The Federal Government is in receipt of the report,” the Minister said.
“We have forwarded the report as at this afternoon to the EFCC to complement their on-going investigation, which has been on for quite a while. And I want to assure Nigerians that there would be no sacred cows, we will prosecute them within the due process.”
The Minister had pleaded with Nigerians for patience to enable government act on the House of Representatives report and its recommendations.
The report had passed sweeping indictments on various individuals, institutions and groups involved in the operation of the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF)
He had said although the government is committed to the implementation of the recommendations in the report, it is important that thorough investigations are carried out by relevant law enforcement agencies to avoid abuse of due process and the rule of law.
On the conviction of the former Delta state governor, James Ibori, the minister said there were misconceptions over the case.
Nigerians have consistently criticised the Nigerian government for its inability to bring the former governor to book at home only for him to be convicted abroad.
But the argued that the judicial systems in the two countries are fundamentally different and that so are their ability to convict suspects.
“Let me state categorically that there is a world of difference between the legal processes in the U.K. and in Nigeria”, he said.
“The fact that he was convicted there is not an indictment on our own judiciary. Don’t lose sight of the fact that Ibori was charged for money laundering in the UK. He was not charged for money laundering in Nigeria.”
Mr. Adoke drew attention to the legal advice by the U.K. Attorney General claiming difficulty in proving cases of corruption against Mr. Ibori. It finally resulted in the plea bargain after he was convicted of money laundering.
“If it were in Nigeria, and I had given such an advice, people would have read different meanings to it. They could have accused me of connivance or trying to shield corrupt people,” he said.
On having separate courts for anti-corruption cases in the country, the minister said he had always held the opinion that the problem is not the number of courts but the ability of the anti-corruption agencies to conduct proper investigations that would fast-track the trials.
“What we need to do is to retool our anti-corruption agencies to boost their capacities and ensure that they have the requisite competence to investigate and collate the relevant information, so that when the cases go to court they need not ask for adjournments every now and then”.
“No matter the amounts of courts one creates or establish, as long as one is unable to generate the evidence to prosecute the courts would have no option than to discharge the accused person,” he said.