An NGO has commended the office of the Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice for the prompt prosecution of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, for non-declaration of his assets before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Human and Environmental Development Agenda Resource Centre gave the commendation in a letter sent to the office of the AGF, which was disclosed on Sunday in Lagos.
It said that similar swiftness applied in the speedy prosecution of Justice Onnoghen should be utilised in effecting the prosecution of several pending corruption-related cases investigated by the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria.
According to HEDA chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, who signed the letter, an urgent prosecution of the principal suspects in the Babachir Lawal and Ambassador Ayodele Oke’s alleged corruption scandals should commence with immediate effect.
“We commend the prompt nature with which the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice ensured the expeditious prosecution of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, over the non-declaration of assets before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“Based on the foregoing, we had wished the swiftness applied in the speedy prosecution of Chief Justice of Nigeria was utilised and visited in effecting the prosecution of several pending corruption-related cases investigated by the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria.
“Prominent among these cases are: the reported case of fraud allegation against the former Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, which was reported by several newspapers and upon which Lawal was sacked from office.
“It was reported on October 30, 2017 that the former Secretary-General of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari based on the recommendation of the panel headed the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
“Though, he was interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and reportedly detained by the Commission, he has yet to have his day in court,’’ Suraju said in a statement.
“Another case which bears so much resemblance with the aforementioned was reported since 2017, wherein the former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ayodele Oke, was suspended in April 2017.
“His suspension followed the raid conducted by the EFCC in April 2017 where about $43.4m, and nearly 27,800 pound sterling and some N23m ($75,000) was recovered at his empty apartment at Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos.
“He was eventually sacked on October 30, 2017, based on the recommendations of the same three-man panel headed by the Vice President Osinbajo.’’
Suraju said HEDA noted further that, “The office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice is saddled with the powers to institute, undertake, take over, continue and discontinue criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in Nigeria, other than a court-martial, in respect of any offence created.
“We have the mandate to pursue till infinity, accountability, transparency and integrity in governance; owing to this, we hereby request that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation exercises its power to prosecute the above-mentioned individuals indicted by the vice president’s panel, with the view to setting a standard that the law is to be upheld ultimately to setting same as a deterrent to future perpetrators.
“As part of our mandate of promoting accountability in governance and monitoring compliance of anti-corruption agencies with their mandate in ensuring fair prosecution of the fight against corruption without element of bias against only political opposition, we demand urgent and immediate prosecution of the principal suspects in the Babachir Lawal and Ambassador Oke scandal with immediate effect.
“Failure to institute the demanded legal action against suspects within one month of the receipt of this letter, our organisation will be left with no option than to seek judicial action to compel your office to discharge its constitutional responsibility,’’ Suraju said in the letter.