The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has denied an online report that he stopped the investigation of the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).
The minister, through his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Gwandu said in a statement on Saturday that the said story in an online media was a baseless falsehood, mischievously spread in order to tarnish his image and the hard-earned reputation he has built over the years, “making reference to a letter insinuating that he had directed the stoppage of investigation of NIRSAL”.
For the records, the statement said, Malami’s directive in his letter dated February 4, 2020, stated that “after a careful study of the petition, we found that NIRSAL is being investigated by several agencies to wit: the Nigeria Police Force, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the State Security Services (SSS), and Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), in respect of the same subject-matter which is not only an unhealthy competition among the agencies of the same Federal Government of Nigeria but a sheer waste of government resources.”
Malami submitted that: “For all intent and purposes that the statement as quoted above does not convey the mischievous conclusion of stopping of the investigation of NIRSAL as portrayed by an online media called Sahara Reporters.
“The clear and unambiguous directives of the Attorney-General of the Federation was that the other several agencies conducting parallel investigation on NIRSAL in respect of the same subject matter should stay action to allow the Nigeria Police Force to continue and conclude the investigations it had started. The directive is by implication, that of continuation not stoppage of the investigation.
“The directive was inspired by the desire to avoid multiplicity, confusion and wastage of scarce resources. After all, only one charge can be competently filed against the entity in respect of the same subject/facts being investigated by the multiple agencies if found wanting at the end of the investigations,” Malami stated.
The office of the Attorney General of the Federation, therefore, pointed out that the Police, which was directed to take control of the investigation is a body legally recognised and empowered under Section 214(1) and Section 29 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Police Act, respectively.