Wednesday, December 30, 2015 2:24 am
#BringBackOurGirls, the group that has been at the forefront of the campaign for rescue of over 200 Chibok, Borno State school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram on 14 April, 2014 met Tuesday with Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
The group, led by Oby Ezekwesili, a former minister of education met with the Minister in a special session during which it addressed a lot of issues.
The group asked the Federal Government to make public details of the Fact-Finding Committee report on the mass abduction of the Chibok girls in April, 2014. But the group which noted that Nigeria has become a nation “where there is hardly any deterrence for wrong
behavior,” argued more forcefully for the need to ensure water tight case to punish those indicted for diversion and sharing of the monies meant to prosecute the war on terrorist group Boko Haram.
For one, the group said government should not consider the option of plea bargain in the trial of those indicted over what it tagged blood money as it is being rumoured in the media.
Rather, the group asked government to consider charging the accused with a more serious crime of treason or money laundering as stipulated under the Economic and
Financial Crimes, EFCC Act.
Sambo Dasuki was about two weeks ago arraigned on 16 count charges of stealing and criminal breach of trust in the diversion of N32 billion to principally fund activities of Nigeria’s former ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The NSA’s former director of finance and administration, Shuaibu Salisu who was arraigned with him had detailed how billions were withdrawn from the office of the NSA for transfer to companies owned by various chieftains of PDP.
Also, Dasuki, Salisu and Kusa are also being tried in another FCT High Court on another 22-count criminal charge bordering on alleged diversion of public funds to the tune of about N13. 6billion. He was arraigned alongside former Minister of Finance, Bashir Yuguda, former
governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, his son, Sagir Attahiru and a company – Dahaltu Investment Limited.
“We suggest that all the companies Col. Dasuki, the ex NSA shared money through, for instance be investigated. If for example, their taxes are not up to date, they and their directors should be gone after. US, for example, mafia leaders are often nailed in for the tax
evasion when charges of their criminal activities can’t be proven.”
The group also called for the release of soldiers currently serving various jail terms over their refusal to fight Boko Haram based on the recent interview in which President Muhammadu Buhari admitted that the men mutinied because they were sent to the war from without arms and ammunition.
The Army recently commuted death sentence slammed on some of the convicted soldiers by its court martial to 10 years imprisonment.
But the group said that is not good enough. It is ironic that if those who misappropriate the funds leading our troops to commit the offences they are accused of are convicted under the present charges, they will get a maximum of seven years while our troops have been
given 10 years. It isn’t fair that our patriotic, gallant troops be made to spend even a day for refusing to commit suicide fighting with their bare hands and on empty stomachs.
The group also raised a lot of questions related to administration of justice in the country, especially the exploitation of the weaknesses of the system calling for removal of all impediments in the system.
In his response, Malami promised the group that there would be no comprise in the fight against corruption and that the federal government is not considering the option of plea bargain with suspects
“I cannot imagine someone being responsible for monumental deaths of our citizens and then going scot-free arising from plea bargain as a policy. It has never been the policy of the government to make compromises on terrorism and financial crimes. It will never be
tolerated by the office of the AGF,” said Malami who added that the abduction of the Chibok school girls was tormenting and psychologically traumatising for the nation.
“It is tragic for a nation to have a budget meant for arms procurement for the protection of lives and property of the citizens, and end up not having the arms but compromising the process of making adequate provisions for the protection of lives of its citizens.
“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has demonstrated sufficient skill and commitment to the protection of lives and property within the shortest practicable time of coming into existence, it has recorded tremendous success including confronting Sambisa forest head-on with the hope of rescuing the Chibok girls.”
The Minister also revealed that government has already provided a strong team of public prosecutors to purse cases of corruption at the various courts of the country. He added that the President is committed to bringing to book all perpetrators of corrupt practices that heightened insurgency activities.