No one immune to investigation’
CRITICS of the night raid in some judges’ homes got an official reply yesterday.
It was all part of an investigation, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN), said. The Department of State Services (DSS) arrested some judges after storming their homes at night last weekend. The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) condemned the raids, which the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) described as “saddening” and “unfortunate”.
Malami argued that the judges’ fate was mere investigation of criminal allegations.
He contended that no one is immune to investigation under the law, noting that once an allegation of criminality was raised, it was the duty of the investigating agencies to carry out a probe.
The AGF spoke in Abuja shortly after inaugurating the “country expert review committee for the second cycle of the review of implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).”
Malami, who was asked by reporters to comment on the arrest of judges, said: “The fundamental consideration is whether there is an allegation of the commission of a crime; whether there is the need for investigation, and whether the relevant provisions of the law and indeed, all circumstances, as provided in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) are put into consideration in our conduct as regard the fight against corruption.
He said: “The bottom line is that we have a responsibility to fight corruption. Corruption is a crime and nobody, regardless of how highly placed, is exempted as far as issues that border on crimes and criminalities are concerned.
“The limited exceptions as we know constitutionally are the exceptions of immunity. And to the best of my knowledge those exceptions do not apply to investigation.
“For those that are conferred with the immunity, the right to investigate has not been taken away constitutionally.
“So, I think the framework and the circumstances within which we are operating are clearly whether there exists the right to investigate or not, and whether the action borders on criminality.”
“Once crimes and criminality are concerned, nobody is an exception. I think the undertone should be exclusively the consideration of the existence of a prima facie case; existence of reasonable grounds for suspicion of commission of a crime.
“And if there are, no member of the Legislature, Judiciary and Executive can definitely be exempted from investigation. I think where we are now is the point of investigation and that is what is taking place,” Malami said.
Inaugurating the committee, Malami expressed confidence in its members’ ability to execute their responsibilities.
Members of the committee are drawn from 22 agencies of the Federal Government, including Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) and Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-corruption Reforms (TUGAR).