The seeming rift between the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, and the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has been reinforced after Malami issued a query to the EFCC boss.
A private lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Festus Keyamo, was also queried by the attorney-general.
Magu and Keyamo were separately queried by the federal government over the corruption charges filed against the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr. Danladi Umar.
The EFCC had on February 2, 2018, brought a two-count charge against Umar bordering on alleged taking of N10 million bribe from one Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo in the charge signed by Festus Keyamo as a private prosecuting counsel and one Offem Uket an official of the EFCC.
Umar was accused of receiving N1.8 million through his personal assistant, Gambo Abdullahi, for a favour to be afterwards shown to the petitioner who was standing trial for a criminal offence before the tribunal. Meanwhile, March 15 has been fixed for arraignment of the CCT boss at the High Court of the FCT, Abuja.
In the query dated February 16, 2018, with reference number DPP/ADV: 368/15, Magu was ordered to make his response to the query available to the AGF on or before Tuesday, February 20, 2018.
In the query, signed by Mr. Dayo Apata, solicitor-general of the federation and permanent secretary, Magu was instructed to explain what informed the filing of corruption charges against the tribunal chairman, having been cleared of corruption allegations twice by the same EFCC.
The query, titled “FRN vs Danladi Umar (CR/109/18) request for briefing,” read in part: “The attention of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation was drawn to news report that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed charges of corruption against the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Hon. Justice Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.
“I am directed by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation to seek clarification from you as to whether the charges were filed on your instruction or directive and if in the affirmative, what is the compelling basis for doing so. This clarification becomes imperative in view of the following background facts.
“The commission’s investigation report dated March 5, 2015, addressed to the secretary to the government of the federation stated as follows: ‘The facts as they are now against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will, therefore, not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the defence.
“The commission’s position in paragraph 2(a) above was also maintained and sustained by the Honourable attorney-general of the federation while appearing before the House of Representatives’ investigative committee sometime in 2015 to the effect that report of investigations showed that the allegations against Hon. Justice Danladi Umar were based on mere suspicion.
“In view of the foregoing, the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation requests for your prompt briefing as to the existence of new facts, which are contrary to the position in your attached investigation report, sufficient evidence or other developments upon which the prosecution of Hon. Justice Danladi can be successfully based.
“Kindly accord this letter top priority while your prompt response within 48 hours from the receipt of same is required in the circumstances.”
In the same vein, in a separate letter to Keyamo, who was purportedly engaged as a private lawyer by Magu to prosecute the CCT boss, was also requested by the AGF to confirm who authorised him to file the corruption charge against Umar.
Like Magu, the senior lawyer was given till Tuesday, February 20, 2018, to furnish the office of the AGF, in writing, details of who engaged or issued him authority to file the corruption charges.
The letter to Keyamo, with reference number DPP/ADV: 369/15, dated February 16, 2018, which was also signed by the solicitor-general of the federation and permanent secretary read in part: “The attention of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation was drawn to news report that you have filed charges of corruption against the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Hon. Justice Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.