Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, remains the cynosure of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government. Little wonder that Malami’s conspicuous postures, legal acumen and administrative dexterity in the discharge of his statutory responsibilities puts him in the eye of the storm. In another sense, these depict him as a workaholic and an achiever, a minister who works relentless in ensuring the attainment of the cardinal objectives of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
As always, Malami for the most part of 2021 was preoccupied with public-interest national assignments and international engagements geared toward enhancing the fortunes of Nigeria.
For instance, as a demonstration of the administration’s commitment to end banditry and other forms of associated insecurity in the country, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice filed an application for the proscription of bandits as terrorists.
The proscription shows the determination of the federal government to deal ruthlessly with the bandits and to do things in accordance with the rule of law.
Also in a bid to address the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice facilitated the move by federal government to join membership of the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog. The FATF monitors 39 member countries to ensure fully and effective implementation of FATF standards thereby holding nations that do not comply accountable.
Following the signing of Memorandum of Understanding for the repatriation of the Ibori loot on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria by Malami and the British High Commissioner, Catriona Laing, the sum of 4.3million Pounds connected to the family of Ibori were returned to the federal government on May 10, 2021.
The development, according to Malami, was a demonstration of the recognition of Nigeria’s record of management of the funds recovered in the execution of public oriented projects.
In addition to the fight against corruption, crushing banditry and combating terrorism, the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is also determined and committed to arraign and prosecute anyone found wanting or connected to the sponsorship of Boko Haram terrorists. Specifically, the AGF has worked assiduously and carried out a thorough and comprehensive investigation to prosecute all the financiers of Boko Haram.
Only recently, Malami informed a section of the media at the sidelines of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, in September, 2021: “As far as terrorism funding and financing is concerned, we have succeeded in identifying those that are allegedly responsible for funding same and we are blocking the leakages associated with funding while embarking on aggressive investigation that is indeed impacting positively in terms of the fight against terrorism”
Also in the year, through combined efforts of stakeholders, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, was re-arrested and brought back to Nigeria in June 2021 to face his trial. Kanu and his co-defendant were facing treasonable felony charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja before they fled the country in September 2017.
The resumption of the trial has been applauded as remarkable particularly as minister has carefully to set out the atrocities committed by the IPOB with their unrelenting mayhem in the country.
At a press conference in October, 2021, the AGF told the nation of how a federal lawmaker is among the major sponsors of the Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Igboho. Malami said the investigation also revealed how Igboho got monies from 43 bank accounts, across nine banks – all in the effort to show the link between the separatists’ agitators and terrorism across the country.
In the effort to bring lasting peace an at the Lake Chad Region, Malami, spoke of on-going efforts by the federal government to partner in the collaborative efforts to see to an end the multidimensional crises facing the Lake Chad Basin states even as the minister has been engaging in international cooperation assignments with such other countries as United Kingdom, United States, Egypt, Cameroon, China, Gambia among others.
Speaking at the annual public lecture in New York organized by the Centre for Media and Peace Initiative, New York, United States of America, Malami explained that “various steps have been taken (by the Buhari-led federal government) in terms of legislative frameworks, establishment of institutions and policy measures targeted at combatting corruption, regional cooperation and ensuring good governance for the benefit of citizens”.
To Malami, the outstanding successes recorded in the fight against corruption, especially in international asset recovery, should be a good template for other African countries in their fight against corruption.
In an effort to ensure a better Nigeria, the AGF, while receiving members of the Presidential Implementation Advisory Committee for the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Reform Committee on Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces of Nigeria, pledged support in providing the legal backing for the immediate implementation of the reforms strategy for national security architecture. He noted that the review of the defense and security architecture is crucial and a necessity considering the heightened level of insurgency and other internal and external threats.
Also at “Policy Dialogue on Protection of Journalists in commemoration of the 2021 International Day to end impunity for crimes against journalists in Nigeria”, organized by Federal Ministry of Justice with the support from the Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) program of the British Council held on Tuesday November 2, 2021 in Abuja. Malami, in his keynote address, reassured the public of the federal government’s support, dedication and commitment to end impunity for crimes against journalists.
The federal government, he pointed out, had identified many stolen funds which the government was determined and committed to recover from different countries of the world.
“We are looking to recover further about USD2 billion among others, but then, that does not mean to say that no other associated assets are being pursued in other countries of the world, including Ireland and other countries,” he said.
For these and many more, Malami has been in public glare and from all indications are not about to stop.
Dr. Gwandu wrote from Abuja