As part of measures to reform the justice sector, the Federal Government, on Thursday August 26th, barred the Nigerian Police Force from prosecuting criminal cases. FG, which made its decision known through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, said the action was in line with the provision of section 106 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015. Malami maintained that the ACJA has transferred to the Federal Ministry of Justice, the responsibility of prosecuting all criminal matters.
The AGF, in a statement signed by his media aide, Salihu Isah, said his Ministry had so far taken over about 8000 case files from Police for prosecution. IGP-Idris However, he said there was need for the judiciary to be transparent in the use of its powers as enshrined in Section 6(6)(c) of the 1999 constitution, as amended. He described as worrisome, the proliferation of counter judgments and orders by courts of coordinate jurisdiction, saying it amounts to abuse of the judicial process According to him, “Multiplicity of counter judgment and orders by the court of coordinate jurisdiction on the same matter does not encourage the desired confidence building in the judicial process”.
He said the policy thrust of President Muhammadu Buhari was anchored on the fight against corruption, building a safer, secured nation and improving the economy that will provide answers to national interest questions that brought about the change. He further explained that the anti-corruption fight was aimed at not only to arrest, investigate and prosecute criminals, but also preventing crimes from being committed through the rigorous application of extant laws and regulations in all strata of our national lives. Malami said the administration of President Buhari has put Nigeria back in the book of records among comity of nations that abhor corruption and the ills it portends. “On the international scene, there is no doubt that there is a greater global awareness on the part of international partners that Nigeria government now exhibits greater political will in its capacity to pursue and recover national assets abroad”. “We have therefore, begun to receive greater cooperation from all such foreign entities”. Besides, Malami disclosed that FG has signed an agreement with Swiss government that will engender the repatriation of about USD321 million back to the country. “Recently, we signed MOU with Swiss Federation that will ensure the imminent repatriation of USD321 Million Nigeria funds in Switzerland. We are equally addressing, through a robust Mutual Legal Assistance Mechanism, the challenges which had hitherto tied down assets in excess of USD500 million in jurisdictions such as the United States , Jersey Islands and United Kingdom”, he added.
He said Nigeria has equally signed critical agreements with United Arab Emirates in a “renewed fight against corruption and the re-invigorated efforts to repatriate home illicit funds”. He said: “In January, we signed four critical agreements with the United Arab Emirates which is a favourite destination of Nigeria Funds to enable us commence long term cooperation to block and recover illicit funds in that jurisdiction”. Noting that imprisonment of looters of the national treasury may not serve as enough deterrent, the AGF, said the government has resolve to explore the option of ensuring that they are compelled to make restitution “through the dis-gorgement of the proceeds of crime within the ambits of law”.
“It has been long recognised by criminal justice stakeholders that mere imprisonment of guilty persons is not sufficient to repair the damage done to society by such persons. “If society must be healed of the harmful effects of illicit property acquisition by the unscrupulous persons and institutions, then the law must compel them to make restitution through the disgorgement of the proceeds of crime in order to use such resources to provide critical services to the citizenry.” Malami explained that the absence of adequate legislation to prosecute and punish those that plunder our economy and plough back such funds, informed Buhari’s decision to re-transmit the Bill seeking to establish Proceeds of Crime Agency (POCA) back to the National Assembly for reconsideration and possible passage into law. According to him, the bill, if passed, would ensure that there is coordination and proper management of assets recovered from those suspected or convicted of embezzling public funds.
He also stated that a Bill on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters which is expected to define and validate processes for mutual legal and symbiotic relationships with other countries on a predictable basis, has also been transmitted to the National Assembly.