The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), has directed the Police, the Department of State Services (DSS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), to hand over all pending high profile cases to his office.
Such cases include the murder of high profile Nigerians, money laundering and financial fraud, tax evasion by corporate bodies and prominent Nigerians.
In a statement issued on Tuesday by his media aide, Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, the minister ordered the agencies to compile the pending cases being handled by them in the courts with a view to determining which of them falls within the category of high profile cases to be taken over by the National Prosecution Coordination Committee (NPCC).
Malami met with the agencies in his office on Monday with a view to briefing them on the exigency and existence of the committee and to fashion out a working synergy between NPCC and the agencies.
Isah, who is also NPCC’s Head of Communications and Public Affairs, said Malami’s message was read by the Special Assistant to the President on Research and Special Project attached to the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Sylvester Imhanobe who is also the Secretary of the Committee.
The AGF explained that for a case to be tagged high profile, it must have overriding public interest elements, but that ultimately, he determines what case fits into the high profile category.
He added that sometimes, the quantum of value of a case and its sensitivity also influences whether a case is a high profile case or not.
According to him, members of the committee are mainly his aides as well as eight external members selected on the basis of experience and expertise, stressing that Heads of Agencies are not part of the NPCC due to their busy schedules.
Malami also hinted that the intention is not to distract the heads of the agencies, but rather to engender smooth synergy between the committee and the organisations.
The Special Assistant to the President on Coordination and International Affairs in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Pius Oteh, who chaired the meeting, said the measure was aimed at sensitising the relevant agencies on the objectives of the NPCC.
He emphasised that the AGF in his wisdom saw the need for coordination and cooperation between the NPCC and these Agencies with prosecutorial and investigative powers, surmising that it was necessary for cooperation and synergy between the Committee and the Agencies consistent with the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari in the anti-graft war.
Oteh disclosed that beyond the synergy and partnership between all concerned, a robust interface between the Agencies was necessary, pointing out that the agencies should take their mandates seriously for a more vigorous and efficient prosecution.
Others who represented the ministry and the committee at the meeting are Special Assistants to the President, Mrs. Juliet Chikaodili Ibekaku (Justice Reforms); Mr. Okoi Obono Obla (Prosecution), Mr. Kehinde Oginni (Financial Crimes) and an official of the ministry, Ms. Aisha Bajeh.