It is well known that when someone decides to take a stand against corruption, such a person is going against a monster that will fight back ferociously, fight dirty and that all you hold dear will be attacked. It is especially so in a country like Nigeria where corruption has almost become the national culture. Accepting to serve in public office for many is an invitation to take one’s share of the “national cake” and so when your job is to fight corruption, you become Public Enemy Number 1.
So it is with Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice. President Muhammadu Buhari has always been a man of high integrity and is known for his stand against corruption. The President searched diligently for a man who would uncompromisingly lead the charge in the fight against corruption and decided on Malami. The man probably had an idea of the kind of opposition he would face but nothing would have prepared him for the intensity of it. Lesser men might have been scared off and tendered their resignation because of the risk to their lives and that of their families. Not so with Abubakar Malami.
To his credit, within the first three years of being appointed as Attorney General, he successfully recovered looted money and assets to the value of hundreds of millions of dollars and secured 603 convictions on corruption charges among Nigeria’s elite, including former State Governors; no easy feat when Nigeria’s sociopolitical set up is considered. He has relentlessly pursued those who have stolen Nigeria’s wealth. One of the high profile cases includes the one he instituted against multinational oil companies ENI and Shell over how they procured OPL 245 below market prices under the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
He has also gallantly fought a clever attempt by a British Virgin Islands company, Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) to force the Nigerian government to pay it billions of dollars. As interest accumulated, the total sum has climbed over $10bn,which is more than twice what Nigeria spends annually on education, health and counter-terrorism combined. P &ID is accusing Nigeria of reneging on a 2010 gas and power contract but it appears to be a scam and not just because of the antecedents of the company whose principals had been involved in arms deals with Nigerian dictators since the 1980s. The company signed a contract with the administration that preceded Malami’s tenure as Attorney General and alleges that in the contract, Nigeria was supposed to build a plant to generate power from waste gas but didn’t do so at all and due to that breach of agreed terms, they were entitled to compensation for loss of all their potential future earnings. It appears those who signed the contract on behalf of Nigeria deliberately did not build the waste-to-gas plant so the nation would be in the breach and they would share in the money the courts would award P &ID as penalty.
Understandably, the number of people who view Abubakar Malami as their enemy has increased from when he was first appointed as Nigeria’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General in 2015. Interestingly, one of the men who fought corruption in Nigeria alongside Malami, the erstwhile Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu has been allegedly fingered for massive corruption and is currently being investigated. As his country’s top prosecutor, Malami is tasked with overseeing the collation of evidence as the State prepares its case against Magu and has accused the suspended EFCC chairman of insubordination and using his office for gross misconduct. Those with whom Magu re-looted looted funds and diverted seized assets have taken to the media to attempt to smear the Attorney General as others tried to but failed to do before him. Thankfully, President Buhari reposes great trust in Malami and Nigerians do as well. Enough is enough of the smear campaign and scare tactics being deployed against the AGF and his family.