The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has grabbed the headlines again after taking over the case involving Bala Hamisu Wadume, a notorious kidnapper.
Some soldiers had killed three policemen in Taraba State while Wadume was being taken to the police headquarters in Jalingo, the state capital.
Wadume was later re-arrested in Kano and is facing prosecution alongside Tijjani Balarabe, an army captain; and 18 others on a 16-count charge bordering on terrorism by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
AGF Abubakar Malam
However, the matter took a new turn when a lawyer from the Ministry of Justice, Shuaibu Labaran, informed the court that Malami would be taking over the case.
This action has attracted reactions with many saying the AGF was plotting how to kill the case, going by his past records.
This is marked by previous top corruption cases taken over by the AGF as some of them ended up being swept under the carpet or the trial withdrawn.
The recent of such cases taken over by the AGF is the money laundering trial of Akinola Ogunlewe being handled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
At the continuation of the trial on March 10, 2020, Labaran told the court that Malami had shown interest to take over the matter.
In view of the interest shown by the AGF, counsel to the first, second, third, fourth and fifth defendants, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, and the prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga, agreed to return before the court on April 7, 2020 to report on an out-of-court settlement.
That was the last heard of the matter as Ogunlewe walked away a free person.
Nigeria’s Attorney General, Malami, Takes Over Prosecution Of Kidnapper, Wadume
Another case taken over by Malami was the N25bn fraud trial of Danjuma Goje, former governor of Gombe State.
The case was stalled when in an emergency hearing before Justice Babatunde Quadiri EFCC counsel, Mr Wahab Shittu, told the court that the agency was withdrawing from the case and handing it over to the office of the Attorney-General for continuation.
The AGF however, stated that having thoroughly reviewed the matter found no prima facie case while adding that it was weak, withdrew the charges against Goje from the court in exercise of his constitutional power.
The withdrawal of the cases by the AGF made Goje a free man.
Another of such corruption and controversial case taken over by the office of the AGF was the alleged debt of MTN’s N242bn and $1.3bn for its business malpractices in the country.
MTN announced that it received through its counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), a letter from the AGF formally withdrawing his demand for N242,244,452,215.97 and USD$1,283,610,357.86 alleged revenue indebtedness.
According to MTN, while the AGF had dropped his demand, he, however, referred the matter to the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Nigeria Custom Service to resolve the controversy.
The matter has since fizzled into oblivion.
Also, in 2017, Malami ensured the withdrawal of an ongoing corruption case involving three former officials — Nasiru Ingawa (former Special Adviser on Sure-P to former Governor Ibrahim Shema), Abdulazeez Shinkafi (former director of finance and Account at the Katsina State Sure-P department) and Bello Bindawa (former Chief Store Officer in the Katsina State civil service) who were prosecuted for allegedly mismanaging N5.7bn Sure-P funds.
However, on October 25, 2017, the Katsina State Attorney-General, Ahmed El-Marzuqat, notified the court that the state government was taking over the prosecution of the accused persons from the ICPC following a fiat from the office of the AGF to take over the prosecution of the case.
After a slow prosecution by the state government, the Katsina State High Court terminated the corruption trial of the three persons.
The AGF was also accused of stopping the prosecution of former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, for allegedly forging the Senate rules to conduct the election of principal officers of the upper legislative chamber.
In 2019, the Concerned Football Patriots accused Malami of making frantic efforts to shield the President of Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, and other accused officials from being prosecuted for the mismanagement of $9.5m FIFA grant.
While the case was going on, Malami reportedly sent Abubakar Musa, a lawyer in his office, to pray the court for an adjournment to allow the AGF harmonise all the cases in the various courts.
After a month, the Federal Government withdrew the case against Pinnick, NFF Secretary-General, Sunusi Mohammed; 1st Vice President, Seyi Akinwumi; 2nd Vice President, Shehu Dikko and an executive member, Yusuff Fresh.
Malami had denied involvement and quashing corruption cases in the country.
Defending an allegation by Transparency International, Malami described reports of him compromising corruption fight in Nigeria as false, frivolous and baseless.
“If the AGF had watered down corruption cases since he assumed office as maliciously claimed in the report, then all the convictions on corruption cases recorded by the EFCC would have been taken over and stopped by the AGF using his constitutional power of Nolle Prosequi.
“However, the AGF allowed the EFCC to thrive well due to his total commitment to the fight against corruption in line with the manifesto of President Muhammadu Buhari,” Malami said, clearing himself of all corruption allegations.