$2.1bn Arms Deal: ‘No Plea Bargain For Suspects’ Says FG

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The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, said on Tuesday that his office would not tolerate any act of “compromise” in the form of plea bargain for suspects whose corrupt acts had heightened insurgency in the country.

Malami, who described as tormenting the alleged diversion of funds meant for procurement of arms under the previous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, spoke while receiving members of the Bring Back Our Girls movement in his office in Abuja.

Notable suspects in the ongoing trial of the alleged diversion of the $2.1bn arms procurement fund are the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.); a former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa; a former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda; and a former Chairman, Daar Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi.

While Dokpesi had been released on bail, Dasuki and others are still in Kuje Prisons, Abuja, having failed so far to perfect their bail conditions.

The BBOG group, which is campaigning for the release of the over 200 schoolgirls abducted by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group in Chibok, Borno State, in April 2014, engaged the AGF on a number of issues, including wars against corruption and insurgency during the meeting on Tuesday.

Responding to the issue of plea bargain raised by the Convener of the BBOG group, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, the AGF said the Federal Government would not tolerate such policy under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Malami said, “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.”

Malami described the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls as “tormenting and psychologically traumatising” for the nation.

He said, “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.”

He said the Federal Government had put in place a formidable team of public prosecutors to drive the government’s anti-corruption war at the various courts of the country.

He reiterated Buhari’s commitment to bring to book all perpetrators of corrupt practices, who heightened the wanton killings of citizens by terrorists in the country.

Malami added, “We have put in place a national prosecution team that comprises all stakeholders for the purposes of ensuring the success of what charge is presented before the courts.

“The committee will be saddled with the responsibility of preferring relevant charges and ensuring that charges are preferred in line with the dictates of the law without compromises.”

He noted that corruption cases under the past administrations in the country were deliberately compromised during investigation in order to pave the way for criminal elements to escape the long arm of the law.

Malami, however, assured his guests that steps had been taken to audit such cases with a view to bringing the culprits to justice.

Earlier, Ezekwesili had told the AGF that the inefficient governance of the immediate past government was largely responsible for the tragedy of the Chibok girls

She recalled that since the advocacy for the Chibok girls began in April 2014, no concrete step was taken by the Jonathan’s administration to secure the safe return of the schoolgirls.

She added, “In the movement, we, over time, realised that it was the failure of governance that resulted in the abduction of the Chibok girls and that corruption was the key obstacle to the rescue of the girls.

“To that effect, therefore, we believe that in recent times and the revelations that have followed, it is clear that there is a lot your office must do in order to establish a framework that would assure Nigerians that every bad behaviour that took place and facilitated the abduction of the girls and every bad behaviour that impeded their immediate release must be fully prosecuted.

“The matter of disclosure of the Presidential Task Force report on the fact-finding mission into the veracity of the abduction is key and urgent.

“This will put paid to the saying by some people that the Chibok girls’ abduction is a scam. How can the tragedy of the Chibok girls be a scam when the government, under which it happened, instituted an inquiry into it, and there are parents who are crying that their children are not yet back? Their children are still with terrorists and their fellow citizens dare to call their experience a scam!

“The government owes it a duty to the girls under captivity, their parents, to the community of Chibok, the movement and to all well-meaning Nigerians that that report be transparently disclosed in its entirety; so, we will know exactly what made it possible for our Chibok girls to have been abducted.”

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