The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has reacted to a statement by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that information about its ongoing investigations were leaked after the commission made same available to the justice ministry.
In a statement on Friday signed by Mr. Malami’s special assistant on media and publicity, Salihu Isah, the justice minister said the EFCC was alleging that the leaked information was brought to the public domain by the Ministry of Justice. It added that such an allegation is “petty and unsavoury.”
”The attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has been drawn to a report in the media space insinuating that the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, GCON and other former and serving government and judicial officers are under investigation for alleged corruption.
“The report also listed other high-profile Nigerians who it claimed are purportedly under investigation for corruption to include former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance under ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, present Minister of Solid Minerals Development and former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, a sitting judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice Abdu Kafarati, among others.
“The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice wishes to express his displeasure over the unfortunate and unbecoming innuendo by certain persons and agencies which sought to accuse his office of leaking what was termed as classified information to the public.
“This office therefore wish to state categorically, but with absolute repudiation, that it did not at any time leak such information to the media as wrongly alluded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The pertinent question to ask is since the EFCC has publicly denied that the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria is not under probe or investigation; is it then possible for the same EFCC to have forwarded any classified information on a non-existent probe or investigation of the Honourable CJN to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation? It also goes to show that the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation could not have leaked a non-existent classified information on an equally non-existent probe or investigation.
“The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice strongly frowns at any unsavoury attempt or conspiracy to drag his office and that of the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria into petty squabbles in the midst of burning national issues”.
The statement adds that the justice ministry would not tolerate any attempt at denigrating its principal officers and that Mr. Malami has profound respect of Mr. Onnoghen and the entire judiciary in Nigeria.
“We therefore use this opportunity to reaffirm our deep respect for the distinguished person and office of the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria, and we will never be party to any unpatriotic effort to denigrate his exalted office. We wish to state unequivocally that the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation will continue to collaborate with His Lordship in his efforts to reform the judiciary and galvanise the anti-graft war. Indeed the present administration appreciates His Lordship for his unwavering support for its anti-corruption drive.
“We wish to state further that we are neither aware of nor privy to any purported probe or ongoing investigation of the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria by any security or anti-graft agency. The office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation dissociates itself from the baseless allusion or suggestion obviously made in bad faith to the effect that His Lordship is under any form of probe or investigation whatsoever.
“In view of the above, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice wishes to emphatically reiterate that he has profound confidence in the Chief Justice of Nigeria and wishes His Lordship the very best in the discharge or performance of his daunting duties to the nation at large.”
Reports published Wednesday by the Punch Newspaper had alleged that the EFCC was conducting investigation into cases of alleged fraud involving high profile persons numbering over a hundred.
The EFCC in its reaction, however, denied investigating Mr. Onnoghen but confirmed that it was indeed conducting an investigation of other politically exposed persons whose details had earlier been sent to the justice ministry.
“For the avoidance of doubt, cases under investigation communicated to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation by the Commission are classified information and it is troubling how such would be leaked to the media”, the EFCC said in its statement signed by the commission’s head of media and publicity, Wilson Uwujaren.