A former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has punctured reports that he is on the run over allegations of corruption.
Following the suspension of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, over his conduct while in office by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Wednesday, there have been reports that Malami has left the country in a bid to evade arrest and investigation.
Malami, who hails from Kebbi State, held sway as the chief law officer of the country throughout the eight years reign of President Muhammadu Buhari. When Bawa was named as the EFCC chair in 2021, Malami exclusively told this paper that he recommended him based on his competence.
“I am happy that most of the comments made are not on his capacity, intelligence, competence and associated ability to deliver. His capacity to deliver was never questioned across the nation,” he said in March 2021.
However, the suspension of Bawa on Wednesday has raised dust about the stewardship of Malami.
A source at the EFCC told this newspaper that the anti-graft agency was interested to find out from Malami the alleged loss of over $2.4 billion in revenue from the illegal sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil export in 2015 including all crude oil exports and sales by Nigeria from 2014 till date. He said the former minister has been invited.
The source added that there are other issues the former attorney-general of the federation would respond to when he finally honours the invitation.
But in an exclusive interview last night, Malami said, “I have not been invited by the EFCC or any other anti-corruption agency in Nigeria. I’m available in Nigeria and attending a wedding Fatiha slated for 2.30 at Sheikh Isiyaka Rabi’u Mosque, Kano, tomorrow (today).
“I have no plan of leaving Nigeria and I will gladly honour any invitation extended to me by any agency of government. I’m a true Nigerian and I believe in the Nigerian project.
“I will make myself available to Nigeria and its institutions on demand.”
On his part, the former Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, who was also reported to have been invited by the EFCC, has faulted the claim.
In a phone interview, he said, “Well, maybe they invited me in their imagination, but what I do know is that I had gone to see the former chairman (Bawa) last week, and I have not received any invitation. If they want to invite me, I’m here.”
When asked whether he went to see Bawa based on his invitation or personally, he said, “I did not get any invitation from the EFCC, Oga, that’s what I said to you. I have not been invited. If I’m invited, it is not any news or no news; I can go whenever I’m invited.
“If they invite me today, I will appear. I was a public officer and I am accountable for my actions. Public officers are accountable for their actions. If I’m invited by the EFCC, I will go. I’ve not seen any invitation. I am in my house, and I’m based in Abuja, not Kaduna, and they are also here in Abuja.”
There were reports that Sirika was summoned over how he handled Nigerian Air. The anti-graft agency had already questioned officials of the proposed national carrier over the recent launch of the airline in Abuja.
Uwujaren confirms ex-Aviation minister’s invitation
But the spokesman of EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, told Daily Trust that Sirika had been invited.
“Yes, that’s what I am telling you, he was invited. I can confirm that there is an ongoing investigation in that regard. I won’t speak further until he confirms his invitation,” he told one of our correspondents via phone.
A source at the EFCC had last night told this paper that eight former ministers, who served under former President Muhammadu Buhari, have been invited over allegations bordering on corruption.
The invitation letters, it was learnt, requested the former top government officials to come and explain how they spent funds allocated to their ministries on some designated projects when they held sway at their respective positions.
The letters, it was gathered, were extended to the former ministers before the suspension of Abdulrasheed Bawa as chairman of the commission. The anti-graft agency had commenced investigations, according to sources within the commission.
The source said apart from the former minister of Women’s Affairs, Pauline Tallen, who was invited last week over alleged N2bn fraud and “part of the money allegedly diverted from the African First Lady Peace Mission Project,” about seven others have also been invited.
It would be recalled that Sale Mamman, also a former minister of power under former President Buhari, was last month arrested and detained by the commission in connection with an alleged N22 billion fraud related to power projects.
In the same vein, it was learnt that the immediate past minister of police affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, has also been summoned over how the Police Trust Fund was handled.
Speaking further on condition of anonymity, the source said Dingyadi would provide answers to allegations of purchasing refurbished vehicles for the Nigeria Police as new.
“Well, I’m not aware of the letter, I’ve not seen it. Maybe they sent it to the office, I will inquire from the office”, the minister of police affairs, Dingyadi, told one of our correspondents on the phone.
Ex-president’s corruption war, a one-man show – Don
Commenting on the wave of investigations and allegations, a renowned political analyst, Prof. Kamilu Sani Fage, said the latest development confirmed the notion that the kind of war against corruption touted by President Muhammadu Buhari was nothing but a one-man show.
“The president was tough on corruption but his staff and other government functionaries were not with him. This is the same way we could say governors (including those of his own party) were not on board the war against corruption,” he said.
Fage, a professor of political science at Bayero University Kano (BUK), said that also showed the leadership style adopted by Buhari when he held the realm when issues relating to corruption were raised against his appointees and he did nothing.
By Ismail Mudashir, Idowu Isamotu, Dalhatu Liman (Abuja) & Clement A. Oloyede (Kano)