Attorney General As Atanni Je -By Louis Odion

Filed under: Democracy & Governance |

Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami

 

We thought we had seen the worst mutation of fawning depravity in Michael Aondoakaa, the pathetically loquacious character who, as Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), strove tirelessly to pervert justice by openly putting the law at the service of shady political players during the Umar Yar’Adua administration, thereby dragging the nation’s jurisprudence into utter disrepute.

So embarrassed was the legal establishment that it barely waited for the earliest opportunity to publicly disrobe the buccaneering fellow as SAN after his removal from office in February 2010. For want of what to do thereafter, he retreated to his native Benue and resorted to rice farming.

Under Aondoakaa, the rule of law was perverted to the ruse of law.

Today, Abubakar Malami is increasingly proving to be in a class of his own in professional misjudgment, if not worse. His role in “Mainagate” that unraveled last week seems to have, at last, helped drag into the national spotlight what could only be termed a culture of zig-zag sprouting in the Ministry of Justice since 2015 and, more significantly, underscore in cold, bold print the grave danger a society faces ultimately having a Lilliputian in such big chair.

From the facts now known, Malami undoubtedly diminished the integrity of that lofty office by repeatedly providing false interpretation of court judgments for the sole benefit of a common fugitive.

Worse still, rather than hiding his head in shame and immersing himself in ashes and sackcloth in penitence, Malami was still arguing last week that he had acted in “public interest” by availing the pension fraud suspect, Abdulrasheed Maina, the legal equivalent of bulletproof jacket.

A man already being sniffed at by the entire community as a prime suspect did not seem to see the folly in flaunting a little he-goat around.

In drafting the three vile letters seeking to launder Maina before the Head of Service a few months ago and smooth his way through the Interior Ministry, crafty Malami resorted to a poor imitation of what is called “imaginative omission” in literary theory. He harped, harped and harped on the 2013 judgment of an Abuja court which purportedly vacated the arrest warrant against Maina, as if that was enough to override the charge of absenteeism as the actual basis for his dismissal from the service in 2013 or to blot out the memory of the substantive criminal case against him over the looting of pensioners’ billions.

The emergency legal alchemist must have prayed fervently that no one also remembered that Interpol was still on Maina’s trail. Of course, his ramshackle letters paved the way for slimy Maina to not only return to office but also reap a triple bonanza: receipt of a whopping N21m in back pay, double promotion to Grade Level 16 and a chance to sit for further promotion exam.

Never in recent history has official collision in gross illegality been this audacious and the full weight of the state so vigorously thrown behind open criminality.

What confounds is not just that Malami’s actions violates logic and decency; more shameful is that someone who occupies such very high office still does not appear to have the commonsense after the fact and seems too inured by the shimmering ambience of power to figure that something was ever amiss.

Yet, in the eye of the law, that office is deemed the next ranking after the President and Vice President in the Federal Executive Council; not even the position of the self-preening Chief of Staff to the President comes close.

For the ease of reference and maybe reverence for the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, many have over the years formed the habit of addressing occupant simply as Attorney Gen. But on account of the foregoing case of duplicity entered against Malami, I can almost bet that those now left disillusioned in, say, Yoruba-speaking South-West, are likely to discountenance the acronym Attorney Gen literally as “Atanni Je” (the deceiver) henceforth.

If faith were lost in the chief law officer, in whom shall the common man trust?

So, let it be recognized that, with the nation’s supposed legal czar mired in such noxious sewage, what is left of the credibility of President Buhari’s anti-corruption agenda only gets further eroded.

Worse still, while indulging in the orgy of self-righteousness now, Malami hardly seems bothered by the monumental global shame his perfidious act has certainly brought the nation, nor the contempt with which bodies like Interpol (earlier pressed into worldwide manhunt for Maina) are now likely to view the country.

Indeed, if public anger is stoked to boiling point over the Maina scandal, it is partly because of the memory of how the monster had evolved. He was invited President Jonathan to plug the leakage in the pension scheme. Like a typical rogue plumber, he ended up making matters worse.

True, he recovered some loot and unmasked the rats. But he soon became the replacement for the swines displaced. Because he already knew their tricks, he was more savage in his own pillage. Unlike the principle Mobutu Sese Seko preached, Maina gobbled too much for the owner not to notice.

By one account, the Grade Level 14 civil servant, whose known wage was less than N250,000 monthly, suddenly had enough to shell out staggering $2m cash on a property in an upscale Abuja neighborhood in 2012. So, just as the now late Zairean kleptocrat-in-chief already forewarned in the circumstance, the whole town and the Interpol were soon in a hot pursuit of Maina.

But Malami and the conniving Interior Minister soon hatched a counter-plot with the apparent blessing of the shadowy enforcer at the DSS.

Of course, their hearts were too deadened to feeling.. Otherwise, they would have been enraged that what Maina is accused of stealing is actually blood money, being what was either stolen from senior citizens who died in unspeakable pain or those left to stew in abject penury at old age.

Malami’s knack for poor judgment was also very much in evidence in the Misau-IG affair. The senator from Bauchi had leveled sundry weighty charges against the no 1 cop including allegation of inseminating serving female officers, thus insinuating that the title, Inspector General, could perhaps now be rightly taken as “Inspector Genital”.

Documents tendered by Senator Misau exposed the IG’s profligacy. The First Lady’s staff requested operational passenger vehicles. But Father Xmas IG chose instead to bless them with two hefty SUVs, even when his men on the field do not have vehicles to chase criminals. A calculating fellow, the IG obviously acted with the expectation that the tale of his generosity would, at least, reach Madam’s ears.

Malami’s response? He rushed to the court to press grave charges against Misau.

It is perhaps a reflection of the AGF’s cluelessness that, under him, the justice ministry has been unable to secure any conviction in all the high-profile cases.

Yet, like all deluded power-mongers, Malami seeks to acquire more; to perform more magic, maybe. He wants to bring the far more aggressive EFFC under his infirm thumb. In the final analysis, only an AGF unworthy of his title will not feel diminished by Aso Rock developing the infernal habit of disobeying court judgments as illustrated by the Dasuki and El Zakzaky cases.

Even where the government appeared to have a good case, he plays the spoiler by throwing a spanner in the works. At least, we saw his bungling hand in the graft case brought by ICPC against Godsday Orubebe. The reason the multi-billionaire Malabu case is also stalled.

Again, we saw his wrecking hand in the case of alleged theft of N2.1b against a certain Ahmed Saleh. The independent prosecutor was about to deliver the killer punch when Malami suddenly appeared and filed a nolle.

Initially, they cited “conflict of interest” against Adeogun Phillips, the lead prosecution counsel. If that was the only reason, how come the matter was not sustained after he withdrew?

Curiously, Saleh, against whom the weighty charge of complicity in the diversion of N2.1b as the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court was entered, would almost immediately be ushered into the more sensitive office of the Secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

One would think that, being the custodian of juridical values and therefore emblematic of jurisprudential integrity, only men and women squeakily untainted would be accorded the rare honor and privilege of sitting at that supreme council.

So, if the public loses faith in the AGF, whom shall we trust then?

 

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