Fagbemi: Nnamdi Kanu’s Case is Difficult

* Let’s leave it to court, he says

* FG to deploy £2m proceed of crime on Abuja-Kano road 

Alex Enumah in Abuja 

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), on Friday stated that the case of the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, is a difficult one and since it is already in court, it should be left to the law to have its way.

Fagbemi stated this while responding to questions at the Sectoral Ministerial Briefing on the first anniversary of the President Bola Tinubu administration.

The Igbo nation agitator has been in custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) since his rearrest in 2021.

He was first arrested in 2015 and held in custody until 2017 when he was admitted to bail and then fled the country a few months after when soldiers attacked his family home in Abia State.

Responding, the AGF pointed out that there is a remarkable difference between Kanu’s case and that of the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore.

He said: “Sowore and Kanu are not the same. When it comes to the first one I didn’t have difficulty to say go, but I have difficulty with the second one.”

While pointing out that Kanu is being held in accordance with the constitution, he observed that: “The matter is still in court, let’s wait for the court.”

Sowore was arrested in 2019 and prosecuted for allegedly calling for the forceful takeover of the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

However, the Federal Government through the office of the AGF in February this year filed a notice of discontinuation of the case.

Meanwhile, he claimed that Tinubu in the last one year have done a lot for the judiciary, especially in the area of welfare of judicial officers. 

According to him, “Tinubu apart from increasing the budgetary allocation for judiciary in the 2024 appropriation has also approved the increase in the wages and salaries of judicial officers for the first time in nearly 16 years,” adding that the administration also increased the retirement age of judges from 65 to 70.

Fagbemi pointed out that the administration, as part of delivering on campaign promises, introduced various reforms, as well as partner with other arms of government and international development partners.

The minister disclosed that in the fight against corruption, “the ministry achieved the following successes under its International Asset Recovery and Management efforts.The Asset Sharing Agreement between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Bailiwick of Jersey was signed in February, 2024 for the return of £2,125,944 (two million, one hundred and twenty-five thousand, nine hundred and forty-four GBP) proceeds of corruption”. 

He added that the president has already approved the fund for the continuation of works on the Abuja-Kano road project.

Besides Bailiwick, Fagbemi stated that the ministry, on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on April 25, 2024 concluded negotiation of a Settlement Agreement with Glencore International A.G. wherein Glencore is expected to pay the sum of $50 million as penalty and compensation for certain activities in Nigeria. 

Fagbemi also disclosed that the ministry, as part of ensuring transparency in the management of recovered loot, introduced the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Regulation, 2024.

“The objective of this regulation, which is being developed with relevant agencies, is to ensure transparency, accountability and standardization in the management of recovered assets, in line with global best practices. This document is being finalized for validation,” he said.

In the area of prosecution, Fagbemi noted that effective collaboration among relevant security and law enforcement agencies (LEAs) has resulted in the conviction of 160 persons for criminal offences, “87 convictions for terrorism cases, 3 novel convictions for extremist terrorism actors involved in the radicalization of children and violence against women”. 

Fagbemi, who claimed that the ministry’s mandate extends to matters relating to financial/cyber crime, anti-money laundering, terrorism/genocide and complex cases, said the administration has secured the conviction of 13 terrorism financing cases, “successfully concluded 150 mutual legal assistance requests and 12 extradition requests from law enforcement agencies and foreign countries”. 

“The ministry places priority on enhancing the prosecutorial and litigation capacity of its staff. To this end, it organized capacity building programmes to improve knowledge on various aspects of the law including darknet and cryptocurrencies applied to terrorism financing, investigation and prosecution of financial and wildlife crimes in Nigeria.The coordination of the effective implementation of the National Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Proliferation Financing (AML/CPF) Strategy 2023 – 2027 is also a top priority for the ministry,” he added.

Meanwhile, the minister claimed that the ministry succeeded in saving the country from huge debt liabilities in the reporting period, adding that: “A total of 625 cases instituted against the President, Federal Government and its agencies, before states, federal and ECOWAS Court were served and responded by the ministry. The ministry also received and treated 593 requests for legal advice and petitions from May 2023 till date. In all, the ministry obtained 235 judgments from May 2023 to date.”

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