Mallam Abubakar Malami, SAN, has written to President Muhammadu Buhari to explain the sources of his income after being accused of embezzling public funds.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, in the letter disclosed that he has been engaged in interest-yielding ventures, such as hotels, farms, food production and processing, restaurants and legal services.
ElombahNews has reported that Anti-corruption groups in Nigeria have submitted corruption allegations against the AGF to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Their letter was titled “Compilation of Corruption Allegations and Abuse of Office”.
It was signed by the Chairman, Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Olanrewaju Suraju; Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran; and Co-founder, Say No Campaign, Ezenwa Nwagwu.
But the AGF who said he has started legal action against people who made the allegations against him noted that he listed 27 properties in his asset declaration form submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Malami Writes Buhari
The letter seen by Vanguard Newspaper read:
“I have taken a personal decision to seek remedy from the court as a result of the series of derogatory contents so published against me. In the same vein, I have written the Inspector General of Police to investigate the matter.
“I, nonetheless, felt it is imperative to write Your Excellency on the subject above. This is because the crux of their campaign is to falsely portray me as a corrupt officer who used public office to acquire wealth and build an empire.
“On the contrary Your Excellency, since my appointment as a minister in your cabinet, I have conducted myself strictly within the confines of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers contained in Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended.
“It is to be noted that apart from my successful legal practice of more than 20 years, seven of which were as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, before my appointment, I have as allowed by law had interests in business ventures, all of which I had resigned from active participation upon my appointment.
“Among other things, I owned lucrative business ventures of Rayhaan Hotels and Rayhaan Food & Drinks, both in Kano, since December 13, 2013, years before the 2015 election that saw to the victory of President Muhamadu Buhari as the President and long before I was appointed to be a Minister in the first term.
“That informs why those items were included among 27 property listed in the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, Form filled by Malami when he was first appointed a minister.
“Apart from the above as income from the government, Your Excellency is invited to also note that while the Code of Conduct for Public Officers prohibits my active participation in the running of my already established ventures, it does not preclude me from gaining the fruit of my establishments. Hence, earnings from mainly the hotels, restaurants, farms are used to either improve these ventures or to expand and build new ones. In all these, the requirement of the law is that I declare at the point of exit from office as I have declared at the point of entry.
“On assumption of office in 2015, I had course as a constitutional requirement to file my assets declaration form at the point of assuming duty as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria detailing my assets which include: my houses (both residential and others) farmlands, hotel, school and other enterprises.
“Statements of accounts from all my banks were also submitted to the Code of Conduct which were duly verified as is the procedure after submission is made. A copy of the form is attached hereto as annexure1, should Your Excellency wish to personally review it.
“As a public officer, my sources of income were streamlined and narrowed to my entitlements from the government coffers. These entitlements come in the form of salaries, allowances and estacodes. For the period, I have served as a Minister (for the 1st term) starting from November 11, 2015, to May 28, 2019, the cumulative figure of what constitutes these entitlements is as provided for in our laws relating to the salary and emoluments of political office holders.”
Corruption allegations against Malami
The coalition had called for the immediate probe of Malami to ensure a full inquiry devoid of interference.
It insisted that there are very strong allegations Malami with clear evidence and urged Buhari to act immediately.
“We have listed these corruption cases after painstaking compilation of high profile corruption cases involving the country’s No 1 law officer. The President must act without delay,” the groups said.
They told Buhari that his action has the prospect of determining the future of the anti-corruption campaign in the country.
The allegations include the alleged auctioning of sea vessels holding crude oil seized by the Federal Government, violating Section 31(2) and (4) of the EFCC Act 2004.
The coalition said Malami also authorized the sale of vessels by companies under EFCC prosecution for similar offence of illegal bunkering.
“This action was admitted by the AGF through his media aide pleading presumption of innocence on the part of the accused, in the case being prosecuted by the Federal Government through EFCC,” the letter read.
The minister was accused of twisting the law to shield his family members, corrupt officials and institutions in the most brazen manners.
The AGF was blamed for the reinstatement of Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, into the Federal Civil Service Commission without due process.
Malami was accused of filing for the discontinuation of a N25billion criminal charge against Senator Danjuma Goje without any justification after over seven years of diligent investigation and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He was alleged to have withdrawn criminal charges against soldiers accused of killing police officers and a civilian in the bid to aid the escape of billionaire kidnapper, Bala Hamisu, popularly known as Wadume.
The letter recalled that on November 18, 2018, Malami, through a lawyer from his office, Pius Akuta, withdrew a fraud case filed by the EFCC at Lagos High Court against John Abebe, younger brother to late Stella Obasanjo.
It noted that EFCC resisted the illegal move in the case before Justice Mojisola Dada on the ground that the AGF has no constitutional power to take over a case filed in the court.
The coalition cited withdrawal of a criminal case against the Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar; demand for the withdrawal of the cases against Mohammed Bello Adoke, Diezani Alison-Madueke and others involved in the Malabu Oil scandal; suspension of investigation of alleged fraud in Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).
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The AGF was also accused of duplicity of payment of $16.9million fees to two friends as new lawyers for the recovery of the loot traced to a former Head of State, Sani Abacha, after a Swiss lawyer, Enrico Monfrini, who helped in the recovery was fully paid by the previous government.
The minister was indicted for halting the prosecution of former Comptroller General of Customs, Mohammed Inde Dikko, through an alleged suspicious deal between the AGF and the immediate past DSS Director General, as well as shielding the ex-Customs boss from refunding of $8million to the government.
The groups said their investigations suggest that Malami allegedly owns assets worth billions, acquired after his appointment.
Those listed were Rayhaan Hotels worth about N500million, located at opposite Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Zaria Road, Kano State; a property worth about N600million located at Ahmadu Bello Way, Nasarawa GRA, Kano; a newly constructed school at the back of Nitel at Gesse Phase 1, Birni Kebbi, Kebbi State, worth about N700million.
Others: A property allegedly built by Malami for his son located at Gesse Phase II in Birni Kebbi worth over N400million; a mansion known as Azbir Arena allegedly built by Malami for his second son; Azbir Arena, an entertainment centre worth over N3billion, with a big plaza and kids playing centre and hotel, all combined in one expansive property.
Malami was accused of using the official letterhead of the office of AGF to seek support for his son’s wedding and that he encouraged the defacing of Naira and other currencies to the embarrassment of the country and in violation of section 21(1) and (3) of the Central Bank Act, 2007.
He was accused of allowing the breach of COVID-19 protocol and regulations, putting the lives of Nigerians at risk during the wedding of his son.
The minister was said to have displayed “his unpretentious hatred for the fight against corruption by writing a letter dated 16th December, 2016 withdrawing the case of fraud filed against Godsday Orubebe, former Minister for Niger Delta, in a case involving over N1.97billion, on the ground that there was no basis for filing the charge against him.
The coalition said they believe in due process “which is why we have forwarded this petition to your Excellency for investigation and action in order to restore the sanity of the core mandate of your administration to fight corruption which is at the verge of collapse as a result of the alleged abuse of power and office by the incumbent Attorney General and Minster of Justice.”
But Malami stated in his letter to Buhari; “As Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, I pledge to continue to uphold the highest ideals in respecting the professionalism of the Office and to continue to serve the Government with the best intent in mind in order to enable President Buhari’s administration achieve all the development goals set out.”