The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, has revealed that the federal government cannot prosecute the people indicted in the House of Representative probe into the management of the fuel subsidy, saying the probe was just a ‘fact-finding’ mission.
Reacting to calls for the prosecution of those allegedly indicted in the report of the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime, the AGF in a statement on Thursday stated that the government will need relevant agencies to conduct necessary investigations before it can commence the prosecution.
According to the AGF, “government must be guided by the dictates of the rule of law and due process as required of any democratically elected and responsible government. In this regard, the need to ensure that thorough investigations are carried out by relevant law enforcement agencies cannot be overemphasized.”
Even as the House of Representative in a unanimous vote approved all the recommendations of the report, the AGF noted that the exercise carried out by the legislature is “mainly fact-finding.” He further pointed out that the report of the ad-hoc committee and the resolutions adopted by the House of Representatives, were yet to be transmitted to the executive arm of government.
“Nevertheless, when the report and accompanying resolutions are received, the relevant law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies will commence the tedious process of sieving through the report, with a view to assembling all the essential ingredients required to sustain criminal charges that may be filed as a result of such investigations” he added.
Lack of evidence
Referring to recent flaws recorded by the anti-corruption agencies in the trial of some corrupt allegations, Mr Adoke stated that “experience has shown that whenever our law enforcement agencies are stampeded to arraign suspects, the end result is usually the discharge of such suspects by the courts ostensibly for want of evidence.”
“Nigerians must therefore allow our law enforcement agencies to conduct painstaking investigations that will ultimately satisfy the standard of proof required in criminal cases.”
He however admitted that the allegations contained in the subsidy probe report deserve serious action on the part of all those with oversight responsibility over the agencies and persons concerned.
He urged Nigerians to have faith in the processes being undertaken and to patiently wait for the outcome of the investigations and subsequent prosecutions that may flow from the fuel subsidy probe and also the on-going probe by the Senate.
Mr Adoke also reached out to the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) that has given the government a two weeks ultimatum to commence the prosecution of all those indicted in the report; else they will call for a nationwide protest.
The AGF stated that the threat to embark on demonstrations and strike actions will only “compound the problem and divert attention, as well as, the energy that would otherwise have been channeled into productive use by law enforcement agencies”
Mr Adoke reiterated government’s commitment to anti-corruption as he recalled the President’s initial reaction to the Report of the Fuel Subsidy probe, saying that “any person found wanting will be prosecuted irrespective of the person’s standing in the society.”
He therefore enjoined all Nigerians who are concerned about the revelations from the fuel subsidy probe report to be “patient and exercise restraint while these difficult, but essential processes are carried out by appropriate agencies.”
“As Attorney General of the Federation, I swore to uphold the Constitution and I am therefore not oblivious of the constitutional responsibility placed on my shoulders to ensure that those who contravene our laws are held accountable through the legal process” he stated.