Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has said he decided to withdraw the N25bn fraud case against Gombe Central lawmaker, Senator Danjuma Goje, because the case against him was weak.
The Muhammadu Buhari regime had come under fire for withdrawing the charges preferred against Goje barely three weeks after he abandoned his ambition to run for the Senate Presidency and endorse Senator Ahmed Lawan.
Transparency International had also made reference to the Goje incident when it decided to rate Nigeria low on its corruption perception index.
In a statement signed by his spokesman, Dr Umar Gwandu, the AGF said he had the constitutional right to withdraw any criminal case at any time.
The statement read in part, “As to the allegation of withdrawal of the corruption case of N25bn against former Gombe State Governor, Senator Danjuma Goje; the first point of correction is that the AGF did not withdraw a N25bn case.
“The EFCC had filed a 21 charges of N8bn against Senator Goje and had been prosecuting same for over eight years without the AGF’s interference but after a no case submission filed by Senator Goje, 19 of the 21 counts making up the N8bn were struck out by the court leaving only two counts bordering on the manner in which the sale of some old buses belonging to Gombe State Transport Company between 2003 and 2011 were handled under the watch of Senator Goje.
“It was the said last two counts that the AGF thoroughly reviewed in 2019 and having found no prima facie case, withdrew in exercise of his constitutional power pursuant to Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution.”
The statement was silent why the Federal Government refused to allow the court decide the merit or otherwise of the case.
The PUNCH had reported how the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had spent over N150m prosecuting Goje for eight years only for the AGF to take over the case and ask that it be struck out.
On the Malabu fraud case, the AGF said he never interfered with the job of the EFCC.
He also denied reports that he advised Buhari to drop the Malabu case.
Malami, who is also the Minister of Justice, said TI’s allegation that his office had not prosecuted any corruption cases was not completely true.
The minister said as the chief law officer of the country, his office could take credit for cases successfully prosecuted by all anti-graft agencies.