Abacha Loot: CSOs to challenge Malami’s ministerial nomination in court

A coalition of civil society organisations have resolved to approach the court to stop the reappointment of Abubakar Malami as a minister.

The coalition had on Wednesday sent a letter to the senate to reject Malami, citing the outcome of an audit done on him which detailed the “shady actions” of the former AGF.

Malami had engaged Oladipo Okpeseyi and Temitope Adebayo, two Nigerian lawyers, for the recovery of $321 million Abacha Loot from Switzerland, a job already completed by Enrico Monfrini, the Swiss lawyer who had been on the recovery since 2000.

Despite outcry, the federal government, in May, secretly paid the newly engaged lawyers $15 million.

“It is on record that Mr. Malami superintended the illicit payment of over $15 million in illegal fees to his compatriot lawyers through a phoney recovery contract, contrary to publicly available records which showed that all negotiations and payment in respect of the return of the $323m Abacha loot had been concluded long before the phoney contract,” the coalition said in a statement on Monday.

“Nigeria’s reputation as exemplar for corruption failed to record any significant improvement under the watch of Mr. Malami, as the chief lawmaker and attorney general of the federation. Back to back ranking by Transparency International showed no improvement in public perception of corruption in Nigeria.

“Mr. Malami failed to pull the full-weight of the Executive behind critical anti-corruption bills, while the country fumbled and wobbled in her obligations under international transparency and anti-corruption frameworks, including the UN Convention Against Corruption, and Open Government Partnership, to mention just a few. The mid-term report of the Open Government Partnership showed the effect of the near-absence of leadership across board, under Mr. Malami.

“There was hardly any significant progress in any of the 14 national action plans. Similarly, Mr. Malami failed to show any support to the work of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, despite revelation of the financial haemorrhage and leakages in oil production costing the country billions of unremitted dollars.

“We are convinced that with Mr. Malami as Minister, in whatever capacity, the fight against corruption is doomed. Therefore, the undersigned civil society organisations have resolved to approach the court to stop the nomination of Mr. Malami as a federal minister.”

The group also appealed to the presidency and other stakeholders to work collaboratively to find transparent and accountable formula for recruiting, screening, assigning and assessing performance of public officials.

The coalition, under the platform of Say No campaign, is made up of Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre for Africa (PAACA), YIAGA AFRICA, Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Protest to Power (P2P), Keen and Care Initiative, Connected Development (CODE), Social Action, Action Aid, Yes Project, Lawyers Network Against Corruption (LAWNAC).

In 2018, Cable Foundation sued the AGF over failure to respond to freedom of information (FoI) request seeking details on the matter.

After adjournments, the court eventually set September 23 to deliver judgment.

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