By OBINNA EZUGWU
Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami has said he would go to court to seek redress over series of allegations of corruption against him.
The Attorney General is being accused in some media reports, among other things, of buying houses for his son, granting approval to Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd, an oil firm standing trial in court for stealing crude oil, Diesel to auction goods seized from It
He is also said to have mandated the firm to sell five vessels despite the fact that the firm and its Managing Director, Mr Jerome Itepu, stood trial at the Delta State High Court, Asaba, for allegedly stealing about 12,000 metric tonnes of crude oil loaded in a vessel, MT Akuada a.k.a. MT Kua, valued at N384m in 2009.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in 2015 arraigned four persons on charges of conspiracy, stealing and receiving stolen goods. The accused, according to online medium, Sahara Reporters, included a businessman and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Edo Central Senatorial District, Chief Francis Inegbeneki; Chief Executive Officer of Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd., Itepu; Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd and Ine Oil Ltd owned by Inegbeneki.
The suit numbered A/EFCC/1c/2015, was filed on March 24, 2015 by A.J. Arogha, Esq. and U.R. Ewoh, Esq on behalf of the EFCC.
The accused were charged with “conspiracy, contrary to, and punishable under section 516 of the Criminal Code Law, CAP C21, Laws of Delta State 2006”.
Explaining himself, however, Malami in a statement issued by Umar Gwandu on his behalf, said he committed no illegality in approving the auction. According to him, the issue in contention should be whether Omoh-Jay “being a duly registered company can be denied the opportunity to participate in the auction bidding process”.
He said, “The position of the law is clear by virtue of Section 36 (5) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) that a person is presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
“Assuming, without conceding that Omo-Jay is being tried for criminal offence, if indeed any, does that take away the constitutional presumption of innocence in their eligibility to apply and be considered for auction?”
Many observers have, however, continued to question his powers to order the said auction, as according to them, he breached the constitution.
Amid the growing allegations, however, the Malami in another statement on Monday by Gwandu, said has resolved to go to court over series of allegations against him.
Malami said the publications have subjected him to “considerable distress, psychological trauma, anxiety and greatly injured his character and reputation”.
According to him, his person is suffering “what appears like a coordinated attack”, even as he insisted that the publications were untrue, fabrication and figment of the imagination.”
Malami noted that he has been receiving telephone calls and visits “from well-meaning Nigerians, his friends, well-wishers and associates from all over the world”.
The Attorney General said the publications against him were contrary to Nigerian Criminal and Penal Laws and a gross violation of his right.
“A senior lawyer has already been briefed to deal with the matter as may be appropriate, in the event of failure to retract the publication in question and offer the requested apology within seven days.”