Delayed corruption cases: Malami changes narration, denies blaming judiciary

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The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has backtracked on his blame of the judiciary for the delays suffered in court by high-profile corruption cases.

This came about 48 hours after Malami completely exonerated the executive arm of goverment from the problem of delays and described it as entirely “a judicial affair.”

“You cannot by any stretch of imagination, place a blame associated with the conclusion and determination of the case on the doorsteps of the executive (arm of government). It is exclusively a judicial affair,” Malami had said in an interview on Channels Televison’s primetime programme, ‘Politics Today’, on Monday.

His retraction, however, did not come until barely 24 hours after the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, issued a rebuttal with references to how the executive arm of government was contributing to the problem.

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Retracting the allegation in a statement by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, on Wednesday, Malami said, “It was an innocent statement aimed at showing and re-enactment of tripartite division of powers and responsibilities among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.”

He said his comment on Channels Television “was construed to evoke an unintended and non-existing inferences which some mischief makers projected him as blaming the judiciary.”

The CJN had in a statement by his spokesperson, Ahuraka Isah, denied the twin accusations of delaying high-profile corruption cases and running an opaque budget levelled against the judiciary by Malami

Malami had about two weeks ago criticised the lack of transparency around the judiciary’s budget.

The AGF, who spoke at a Justice Sector Summit, organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), challenged the judiciary to make its budgetary allocations and expenditures open.

The judiciary had yet to respond to the charge when, Malami, on Monday, blamed it for the protracted trial of high-profile corruption cases.

Denying part of the charges on Tuesday, the CJN said Mr Malami was “one-sided” in his assessment of the issue bordering on prolonged criminal trials, especially concerning Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) in the country.

“The position of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) that the judiciary be held responsible for delays in the trial and delivery of judgements on corruption cases involving politically exposed individuals appears to be one-sided,” the CJN’s spokesperson, Ahuraka Isah, wrote in the statement.

While not exonerating the judiciary in the delays of such cases, Mr Muhammad pointed out various ways the executive arm of government was contributing to the problem.

“The Federal Government’s prosecution sector files more charges than it can prove or provide witnesses to prove, ostensibly at times for the prosecution to even fail,” the CJN statement had said.

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