The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN, has faulted the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, for writing President Muhammadu Buhari to drop all the charges filed against individuals and firms implicated in the $1.1 bn Malabu oil scam.
Sagay pointed out that the matter was criminal in nature and should therefore not be treated as a civil matter.
The PACAC chairman told Punch, “My view is that this is not a civil case or breach of contract or negligence. This is an offence against the country, a criminal act.
“Although the AGF is empowered to withdraw even criminal cases filed by the Federal Government, this is supposed to satisfy the interest of the country at large.
“This is a case in which Nigeria was defrauded of about $ 1 .1 bn and it was perpetrated mainly by those who were supposed to act in the interest of the nation.
“For me, such breach of trust involving colossal fraud is a very serious thing. It is not something you negotiate . It is criminal. The only thing that can happen is for the accused people to plead guilty and opt for plea bargain.”
The senior lawyer further faulted the AGF’s claim that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the accused persons.
Sagay added, “On this same case, people are
being prosecuted in Italy and in Britain a lot of money has been recovered.
“So, it is strange to say that in the home turf, where it all originated and where all the evidences exist, there is no evidence . It is strange.
“It is also a problem because we know without any iota of doubt that past attorneys general have made money from this Malabu scandal. I am not talking of the current one. They have made money which is documented.
“For him to say the case should be withdrawn will look as if there is some form of solidarity or espirit de corps with previous AGFs. If the evidence is not enough, let the charges be withdrawn and they go do more investigations, gather more evidence, and then file charges again. But to say Nigeria should drop the case completely after losing over $ 1 bn is unacceptable.”