By Ola Adeola
Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, has defended the raid by the Department of State Security, DSS, on homes of some judges suspected to be corrupt. Malami told the House of Representatives’ judiciary committee that he chose the agency to enforce the raid and didn’t feel the need to inform the Inspector General of Police, IGP.
“I didn’t have to inform the Inspector-General of Police or Commissioner of Police in the State about the DSS operation because they were also under the same constitutional obligation to act”, he said.
Also, Malami defended his preference of the DSS for the task, a development many believed was aberrant.
The AGF said: “To my mind, I have a discretion to look at and weigh the situation and decide which agency against the background of the petition, who will act for the purpose of ensuring that the obligation of the provisions of Section 15 (5) of the constitution are carried out.
“So, whatever evolved from the search and arrest of the judicial officers revolved around the need to comply with the responsibility and obligation vested in them by provisions of the constitution and the need to ensure that the investigation was not in any way tampered with negatively.
“These were the circumstances that led to the operations. It was a clear exercise of the constitutional mandate in respect of what is expected of the State to abolish corrupt practices.
“When we got the petitions, I had cause personally to write to the NJC, requesting that they take administrative steps to investigate the allegations contained in the petitions.
“A response was made to my office that the NJC could not act unless the petitions were accompanied with affidavits.
“But I felt there were no reasons why the petitions could not be looked into on their own merit by placing sanctions on the AGF, while it was a constitutional obligation.
“Incidentally, multiple petitions were also written to the DSS and I requested that they equally write to the NJC to look into the petitions, but it was the same response the DSS got from the NJC that without a supporting affidavit the petitions could not be looked into.
“So, we have a situation where there is reasonable grounds for suspicion for commission of corruption and we have a body saddled with the primary administrative responsibility of looking at such things first, but it seems not to be cooperating in that respect.
“Meanwhile, when issue of commission of corruption practice is established, the executive has the responsibility of investigation without recourse to the judiciary.
“That is how the idea of taking the advantage of Section 15 (5) arose.
“I asked the EFCC and the DSS and another agency to investigate because they were in receipt of several petitions on the same subject and I was informed by the DSS before the search and arrest and I did not object.
“The DSS presented a formal report to me before and after effecting the search and arrest.
“They informed me that the operation will be done at any hour without restriction.
“I had no objection that the operation would be carried out at night because I have taken time to go through the administration of Criminal Justice Act and I was convinced that this operation can be conducted at any hour, any moment without restriction.”