Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, on Tuesday, urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who allegedly distributed over 200 exotic sport utility vehicles to politicians in Kebbi State to influence the May governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress in the North-West state.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said it is illegal enough that Malami declared his ambition to succeed Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi in May 2023, without resigning his position as a minister according to the Electoral Act.
The group described as untenable and diversionary, Malami’s denial that it was his friends and associates who donated and distributed the vehicles just as the rights group challenged the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice to publish the list of his friends that donated those cars as he reportedly claimed and also furnish Nigerians with the receipts of purchases of the vehicles so Nigerians from all over the world can easily make an inquiry from the sellers if they are overseas. HURIWA said it is relying on the Freedom Of Information Act to make the demand public.
In a statement after the photos of the lush vehicles went viral, Malami’s spokesman, Umar Gwandu, claimed, “It was friends and associates of Malami who donated and distributed vehicles to long term workers in the Khadimiyya Foundation.”
However, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The excuse of the AGF through his aide is the same ambiguous and one-sided strategy that all politicians use during campaigns.
“They use phantom groups as an alleged shield to divert what is alleged to be ill-gotten money and fund campaign expenses, as corroborated by Transparency International recently which raised the alarm that support groups use stolen funds to purchase exotic cars for party delegates and party forms politicians.
“It is very suspicious that the so-called chief law officer who has been in charge of the recovery of foreign loots including those of the late Sani Abacha and James Ibori is involved in this bogus donation of cars to party delegates even if remotely through his affiliates and friends.
“He could have dissuaded those so-called friends not to proceed with this illegality given his frontline role as the Premier Cabinet-level officer in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari that lay claims to fighting corruption.
“The EFCC must probe Malami and his so-called friends whose names are not mentioned by the AGF’s spokesman. Who are they? What is their pedigree to afford 200 lush SUVs?
“The anti-corruption agency must quit its keeping cool whilst ministers like Malami allegedly fritter millions buying cars for delegates, buying nomination forms. So we aren’t indicating the minister of Justice but we are of the humble opinion that there have to be FULL DISCLOSURES on the donors if any.
“It is also important to state that the EFCC is complicit in corruption by refusing to probe the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi; and other serving ministers, governors, and appointees who have purchased the exorbitant N100 million nomination and expression of interest forms of the ruling APC.
“The silence and inaction of the Rasheed Bawa-led EFCC can instigate a big protest worst than EndSARS if nothing is done to reassure Nigerians that EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission are not already hijacked by corrupt politicians.”
HURIWA further slammed President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to compel his appointees to comply with the provision in the Electoral Act that demands that political appointees should resign before pursuing any electoral ambition.
Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act reads, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
HURIWA said even without any clearly stated statute, it is unethical for those who still enjoy public salaries to divert the resources and time for which the public pays them as servants of the people as ministers to engage in the selfish pursuit of political aspiration.
Onwubiko added, “It is not surprising that the same AGF had gone to court surreptitiously as alleged by some persons in the corridors of power and even some sources in government who wouldn’t speak publicly for fear of retribution from the powerful minister who single-handedly railroaded the EFCC Chairman into office and allegedly lobbied (We are not alleging bribery) Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State, to nullify the section of the amended Electoral Act.
“The alleged action of the AGF if found out by the government investigators like the Nigeria Police Force or EFCC turns out to be true then it is illegal and then it would be regarded as a clear case of a hidden agenda laced with corrupt motives.”