Ministerial Screening: Malami Reels Out Achievements As AGF In Buhari’s First Term
The Nigerian Senate on Friday resumed its screening of ministerial nominees with the assessment of the immediate past Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), who made the list of ministerial nominees sent to the upper legislative chamber by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Malami, who appeared before the Senate at about 10:42 a.m. for his screening, reeled out his achievements during his tenure as AGF and Minister of Justice in President Buhari’s first term.
The ministerial nominee from Kebbi state also responded to questions pertaining to rejection of Legislative bills by the Executive, Federal Government’s continued detention of persons who have been granted bail by the courts, among others.
Malami, who noted that his achievements in office were multifaceted, identified his successes from the legislative perspective to include presentation of legislation that were targeted at shaping President Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.
“Among the legislation of note that has direct bearing to the fight against corruption were: Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill 2017, Anti-Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Bill 2017, National Financial Intelligence Bill 2017, Proceeds of Crime Bill 2017, Public Interest Disclosure and Witness Protection Bill 2017, Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill 2017.
“I’m happy to state that arising from the passage of some of these bills, Nigeria that was at a point being considered for dismissal from participation in EGMONT Group was indeed restored as a privileged member.
“The implication of participation of Nigeria as a member of EGMONT Group is the ability of Nigeria as a country to share intelligence as it relates to financial cash flow among others.”
“I’m equally of the view that we have recorded some successes in terms of policy formulations. Before the coming in place of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, we have had cases, particularly criminal cases, associated with corruption that had been on for over a period of 10 years without meaningful progress.
“And then arising from desire to ensure speedy determination of cases, I came up with Executive Order No. 6 that was eventually signed by the President and arising from that development, cases particularly that have corruption undertone have recorded tremendous speedy dispensation.
“Modest convictions were as a result of results recorded. It was those types of policies that eventually saw us being reconsidered for membership of the EGMONT Group among others.
“We have had in place a whistle blowing policy that translated into greater success associated with the recovery of looted assets. We have taken steps to ensure that not only policies were formulated, but they were indeed effectively enforced.
“Among the policies that were in place that we have succeeded in enforcing was the TSA (Single Treasury Account), Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which eventually translated to a massive discovery of over 23,000 ghost workers that were taken out of the payroll of the Federal Government, arising from the IPPIS policy that was out in place,” he said.
Malami went on to state that under his watch as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice in three and half years, 12, 412 criminal cases were successfully prosecuted under him.
He also stated that during his time as AGF, “we increased the balance in FG recovery account from N19bn to N279bn.”
Rejection Of Legislative Bills By Executive
Senator Opeyemi Bamidele representing Ekiti central had asked Malami how he intends to ensure bills passed by the National Assembly are not unnecessarily rejected by the Executive as seen in the last administration if he is reappointed as the chief law officer of country.
Responding, the ministerial nominee promised to establish a culture of collaboration in order to make sure that Legislative bills get better response by the Executive arm of government.
Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege had similarly made reference to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) passed by the 8th Senate but that was rejected by President Buhari.
Omo-Agege noted that the PIGB was very significant to addressing certain issues affecting oil producing states in the South-South region of the country.
Malami however explained that the PIGB was rejected because oil-producing host communities were compromised and that self-serving sections of the country were brought into the bill.
Protection of Nigerians’ Rights
Minority Senate Leader and the Senator representing Abia South, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, had also asked the ministerial nominee why some persons who have been granted bail by the courts are still being detained by the government.
Abaribe asked Malami how he intends to guarantee the rights of Nigerians who fall under the aforementioned category.
Responding, the ministerial nominee said: “I concede that I had a responsibility as the Attorney-General of the Federation to protect individual rights. But looking at the provisions of Section 174 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I want to reiterate and state further that the office of the Attorney-General is meant to protect public interest and where individual interest conflicts with public interest, the interest of 180 million Nigerians that are interested in having this country integrated must naturally prevail.”
Malami further buttressed his point using an example of the case between Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and Nigerian government.
“I think that position has been very well captured by the apex court as stated in the case of Asari Dokubo versus the Federal Government of Nigeria that where an individual interest conflicts with the public interest, the public interest naturally prevails.”