A coalition of civil society organisations has condemned the re-nomination of Abubakar Malami, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation.

The coalition accused Malami of being a “barrier-in-chief” to President Mohammadu Buhari’s ‘intention’ to fight corruption, according to excerpts of a press conference published by Premium Times.

The civil societies agreed that Malami performed below standards during his first term as the AGF. 

Jaye Gaskia, co-convener of the coalition said Nigeria repeatedly ranked low by the Transparency International Corruption Perception index while Malami was the AGF.

He said: “There was hardly any significant progress in any of the 14 national action plans. Similarly, Mr Malami failed to show any support to the work of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, despite the revelation of the financial haemorrhage and leakages in oil production costing the country billions of unremitted dollars.

“It is on record that Mr Malami superintended the illicit payment of over $15 million in illegal fees to his compatriot lawyers through a phoney recovery contract, contrary to publicly available records which showed that all negotiations and payment in respect of the return of the $323 million Abacha loot had been concluded long before the phoney contract.

“It is also on record that the United States government has repeatedly insisted never to return the outstanding $500 million, another Abacha loot, to Nigeria as long as Mr Malami is in office as Attorney General of the Federation.” 

They said this was to give a “window for citizens’ voice in the nomination and/or screening of public appointees”. 

They described the current procedure as an “expression of the current total political capture of the public administration system which bodes no good for Nigerians and our nascent democracy.”

Rafsanjani Auwal, the Chairman of Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), said the groups singled Malami out because of the central role ”he has to play in the fight against corruption".

He also ascribed the refusal of some foreign countries to release Nigeria’s looted funds to their growing lack of trust in the judicial system.

Auwal said: “It is wrong that we condemn other people in the past who had done a similar thing and close our eyes now because Mr Integrity is the one in power, God will not forgive such an act.

“We cannot fold our hands and watch corruption thrive because someone claims he is fighting corruption. If he has the intention to fight corruption it has not translated into action and what he is doing now invalidates such intention.

“In 2015, the whole world looked up to President Buhari to lead the fight against corruption but with what has been going on, many Nigerians have started to doubt his seriousness of fight against corruption.”

The signatories to the statement were the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), YIAGA Africa, Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Centre for Transparency (CTA), Lawyers Network Against Corruption (LAWNAC), Peer Advocacy and Advancement Centre for Africa (PAACA), Power to Protest (P2P), Connected Development (CODE), Keen and Care Initiative and Social Action.

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