The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has denied the allegation that he frustrated the recovery of $60 billion stolen from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and stashed away in Texas, United States.
The media aide to the AGF, Umar Gwandu, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on phone on Wednesday, denied the allegation and asked the accuser to provide evidence to back up the claims.
The special prosecutor to the defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property, Tosin Ojaomo, made the allegation on Wednesday at the investigative hearing into the status of the recovered loots.
“There was an intelligence given to the panel that the sum of $60 billion belonging to the Nigerian government is currently being domiciled at Texas in the United States of America, which the panel has started working on, sir. All this has been taken over by the attorney-general of the federation,” Mr Ojaomo stated.
He did not provide any evidence to back up his claims.
However, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), the chairman of the House ad-hoc committee investigating the matter, asked him to provide evidence to support his allegation.
Mr Ojaomo also made other allegations against Mr Malami, and promised to avail the committee of all relevant documents to back up his allegations.
Mr Malami’s reacts
“We challenge anybody, who says the attorney general received any amount, we challenge such person to bring evidence forward.
“The AGF has a record of facilitating the repatriation of funds from the United States of America, the U.K., Island of Jersey and other territories across the globe. He has never had any history of standing as an encumbrance or preventing the recovery of any looted Nigerian asset.
“It is because of the track record that the attorney general has, that has earned Nigeria reputation, which is why many recoveries are being made or are on the verge of completion. Because of the reputation the attorney general has, he has never had any record of frustrating any Nigerian government recovery.
“You remember the $9.1billion P & ID case, where he stood firmly in order to ensure that Nigeria does not lose a single penny, someone with such a record will never frustrate recovery. This is just an effort to frustrate the efforts of the AGF,” Mr Gwandu said.
He added that the allegation was an attempt to smear the reputation of Mr Malami.
Mr Malami has faced criticism over the handling of the recovered loots. He was queried on Tuesday by the committee over a transfer from the recovered loot account to fund the budget of his office.
The situation was clarified by the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, who said all accounts of the government are not sub-set to Tertiary Single Account.
Links between Mr Malami and his accuser
The two gentlemen have a long history together. Mr Malami had a turbulent relationship with other Anti-graft, including the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property, EFCC and ICPC.
Mr Magu, the former boss of the EFCC, has been removed and replaced with Abdulrasheed Bawa, who is from Kebbi State, the same state as Mr Malami.
Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property was disbanded in 2019 by President Muhamadu Buhari, and its former chairman, Okoi Obono-Obla is facing prosecution over corruption.
Aside from being a member of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property, Mr Ojaomo also served as lawyer to Mr Magu during Ayo Salami-led panel that investigated the ex-EFCC boss.
In 2020, Mr Malami reportedly revived the panel and appointed Dennis Aghanya as the “lead consultant” for the panel.
Mr Aghanya’s Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative was the CSO that wrote the petition against former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Mr Ojaomo tried to speak on behalf of his disbanded panel but Mr Adeogun said he could only speak as an individual.
Mr Adeogun also disclosed that the committee will consider inviting Mr Malami again.
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