The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) yesterday said that he directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to conclude its investigation of alleged fraud in Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) to save cost.
The AGF in a statement signed by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, said he received a petition that five agencies were investigating the organisation in respect of the same subject matter.
He gave the list of the law enforcement agencies investigating NIRSAL as the Nigeria Police Force, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the State Security Services (SSS), and Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).
Malami said he found the situation “not only an unhealthy competition among the agencies of the same Federal Government of Nigeria, but a sheer waste of government resources.’
This, he said, informed his decision to issue a directive to the EFCC to conclude its investigation of the complaint against NIRSAL.
The AGF quoted his letter to the anti-graft agency dated
4th day of February, 2020, wherein he wrote: “In view of the foregoing, you are requested to conclude your own investigation on the matter and forward the outcome of your investigation on the matter to the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation for legal advice and further necessary action”.
While trying to justify his decision, the AGF said:
“It is pertinent to submit for all intent and purposes that the statement as quoted above does not convey the mischievous conclusion of stopping of the investigation of NIRSAL.
“The clear and unambiguous directives of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation was that the other several agencies conducting parallel investigation on NIRSAL in respect of the same subject matter should stay action to allow the Nigeria Police Force to continue and conclude the investigations it had started. The directive is by implication that of continuation not stoppage of the investigation.
“The directive was inspired by the desire to avoid multiplicity, confusion and wastage of scarce resources. After all, only one charge can be competently filed against the entity in respect of the same subject/facts being investigated by the multiple agencies if found wanting at the end of the investigations.
“The office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation wishes to point out that the Police, which was directed to take control of the investigation is a body legally recognized and empowered under Section 214(1) and Section 29 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Police Act, respectively.”