Law News
AGF Sets Up New Investigative Unit For Sensitive Cases

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami SAN yesterday explained why the Federal Government could not arrest sponsors of the quit notice issued to Igbo residing in the northern part of the country, citing security reasons

Malami said the government resisted pressure to go after leaders of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, after it gave due consideration to “security implications” of arresting them.

However, the AGF said the government would not hesitate to wield the big stick against anyone or group found to have engaged in any form of lawlessness in any part of the country.

According to him, “government considered the security implications on the issue. Let me state that government is alive to its responsibility and whoever is found wanting will be prosecuted.

“This administration is determined to provide good governance and promote justice, peace and fairness.” Sets up new investigative unit for sensitive cases The AGF spoke on the issue shortly after he established an Investigation Unit in the Federal Ministry of Justice, with a mandate to investigate “sensitive and important cases”.

Malami blamed the rift between him and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, over prosecution of high profile cases on negative media reports, though he admitted that shallow investigation was a major reason some cases were thrown out by the courts. He said the new unit established in the Ministry of Justice will henceforth “coordinate and form part of every investigation in Nigeria.”

According to him, the move became necessary in view of apparent lack of “legal expertise in the conduct and process of investigations by the various security agencies in Nigeria.”

The AGF insisted that the new unit would address those anomalies that not only led to frequent loss of court cases by the prosecuting agencies, but also the “consistent rejection of vital/relevant evidence of the course of prosecution.”

The Justice Minister, however, declined to specify the agencies whose pending court cases might likely be taken over by the new unit. Announcing the establishment of the new investigative unit in Abuja, yesterday, the AGF said:

“Consequent upon want of expertise in the conduct and process of investigations by various security agencies in Nigeria and the need to address such anomalies leading to consistent rejection of vital/relevant evidence in the course of prosecution and or the writing down of the probative value of such evidence owing to inappropriate investigation, my office as a result, and in line with the constitutional powers conferred on me as the chief law officer of the federation and by virtue of section 105 (1) and (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, hereby deem it fit to establish an Investigation Unit within the ministry.

“This unit shall coordinate and form part of every investigation in Nigeria for robust investigation and successful prosecution of such cases.” He said the core function/mandate of the unit would equally involve giving advice, beforehand, to every security agency carrying out investigation on the best lawful and admissible means of such investigation for effective prosecution thereafter. Profiling of 1,000 suspected Boko Haram members More so, Malami said, the government had commenced the profiling of over 1,000 suspected Boko Haram members, including those either in custody and those whose case-files were left un-prosecuted.

He maintained that despite numerous challenges facing the ministry, such as prolonged and inconclusive investigation by law enforcement agencies, lack of funds to sponsor witness to court, delay in mobilsing prosecutors, delay in the production of case files to his office by law enforcement agencies, officers in the Department of Public Prosecution, DPP, were able to secure commendable convictions.

Malami said the Justice Ministry was working on securing approval of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, for the installation and implementation of a state-of-the-art Virtual Automated Case Management System, V-ACMS, to incorporate an online up-to-date integrated biometrics prisoners’ information technology that would strengthen the operations of the federal justice sector institutions and eliminate bottlenecks in the administration of criminal justice system in the country.

He decried the high number of awaiting trial inmates in Nigeria, saying it was the major reason why the prisons are constantly overcrowded. He said the government was working on modalities to reduce the population of awaiting trial inmates in the country, adding that the committee on prerogative of mercy will consider and recommend inmates that are qualified to be granted state pardon.

Besides, the AGF revealed that the judgment debt profile of the ministry stood at N113 billion as at last year, a situation he said necessitated the re-establishment of the Judgment Dept Verification Committee to assist in reducing the quantum of the debt against the Federal Government, by reaching a compromise with judgment-creditors on modalities and payment of such  debt.

Meanwhile, the AGF said the government was determined to recover about $15million seized by the South African government under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. He blamed delay in the recovery of the money on cumbersome legal process between Nigeria and South Africa.

TML News

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