Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has given reasons why the federal government failed to arrest members of a northern group that demanded Nigerians of Igbo ethnic nationality quit the region by October 1.
Mr. Malami said the failure to make arrests was to avoid jeopardising the nation’s fragile security.
Northerners, under the platform of the Arewa Consultative Forum, had issued the threat but later withdrew it while still attaching conditions.
The quit notice was widely condemned by Nigerians although a few expressed covert support.
Mr. Malami’s comment came amid criticisms over plans to rearrest the leader of the pro-Biafra group, Nnamdi Kanu.
The government says Mr. Kanu has violated his bail terms, and wants the bail revoked.
But critics accuse the government of bias, pointing at its failure to arrest members of the northern group while moving to re-arrest Mr. Kanu.
Vanguard newspaper quoted Mr. Malami as defending the government’s decision on Wednesday, shortly after establishing an investigation unit in his ministry.
“Government considered the security implications on the issue. Let me state that government is alive to its responsibility and whoever is found wanting will be prosecuted,” Mr. Malami reportedly said.
He however said this Buhari administration is determined to provide good governance and promote justice, peace and fairness.
Mr. Malami said the newly formed investigation unit would “fill the vacuum created by the obvious lack of expertise in the investigation process”.
“Consequent upon want of expertise in the conduct and process of investigations by various security agencies in Nigeria and the need to address such anomalies leading to consistent rejection of vital/relevant evidence in the course of prosecution and or the writing down of the probative value of such evidence owing to inappropriate investigation, my office as a result, and in line with the constitutional powers conferred on me as the chief law officer of the federation and by virtue of section 105 (1) and (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, hereby deem it fit to establish an Investigation Unit within the ministry,” he said.
“This unit shall coordinate and form part of every investigation in Nigeria for robust investigation and successful prosecution of such cases,” he added.
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