by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
At a time Nigerians were looking up to the President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration to engage in a legal battle against the award of $6.6bn in favour of P&ID as well as reduce the cost of governance in the country, following its claims that the economy is in a bad shape, a top government delegation to the United Kingdom led by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has again dragged Mr President’s hard earned integrity in the mud as they rather engaged in personal leisure abroad.
The Abubakar Malami’s led team, which left the shores of Nigeria for United Kindom (UK) in September, 2019, to appeal the award of $6.6bn to a firm, Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID) by a British court, disappointingly abandoned this very important national assignment and rather engaged on a shopping spree in highbrow shops
This embarrassing development, to many analysts points indeed to a clear reflection of the recklessness and laissez-faire attitude of the PMB-led administration towards governance, resulting in the biting economic recession and other woes plaguing the nation under his watch.
Very important questions begging to be answered remain: How can government officials sent to salvage the nation’s economy abandon such sensitive duty and engage in personal leisure abroad?
What on earth would push these same personalities, who blame everybody but themselves, for the choking economic situation of the country in the last four years plus into this wanton mess? Could the take by opposition political parties that these top government officials had the temerity to pursue personal interests abroad because they knew that even, if atrocious acts were brought to the attention of Mr. President it would be carpeted?
Recall that a British commercial court had in August, 2019, affirmed the ruling of a London arbitration tribunal, which awarded $6.6bn arbitral award against Nigeria in January, 2017, over an alleged breach of a gas supply and processing agreement signed with P&ID.
The Abubakar Malami-led team, which comprised the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and the acting
chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, in September last year, supposedly stormed the United Kingdom for the epic legal battle against the award of $6.6bn to P&ID.
It was, however, gathered that this high breed delegation was different from a set of a legal team (all lawyers) that embarked on the appeal mission to London prior to the Attorney General’s led -team.
Though, the case is still pending, findings revealed that P&ID is yet to respond to the issues raised by the Nigerian government in the appeal.
While the country, however, awaits a positive response, following the efforts put by the legal team that visited earlier, it’s heartbreaking to come to terms with the fact that, while 70 percent of Nigerians are suffering due to the absence of/deplorable state of social amenities ranging from poor infrastructure, bad roads, poor power supply, dilapidated health facilities and lack of quality education, the Malami’s team traded the country’s well-being with extravagant lifestyle by shopping massively in highbrow shops, while on a critical national assignment in London.
Sources said the government officials always want foreign trips as an opportunity to shop and live a luxury lifestyle at the detriment of the poor tax payers; hence, their prayers for prolonged international problem for their personal benefits.
The individuals in the photographs obtained by Elanza News rocked and lavished public funds so well with their leader, Malami, making purchases of Apple products accessories at Selfridges on Oxford Street.
He also made various purchases at the Westfield Centre in White City, including at Massimo Dutti, Luis Vuitton, Gucci and the Apple Store.
Our Sources said Malami bought items in Luis Vuitton to an estimated value of £2,730 and in Gucci to around £1,600.
The photographs also shows the senior Nigerian delegation to London – Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami and Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, the Inspector-General of Police – having lunch during the hearing at the Law Society Restaurant at 113 Chancery Lane.
One of the pictures, however, shows an unidentified individual (circled in red) –believed to be a high-level associate of Malami, who moved from one store to another, making payment of the purchases at high-end French luxury brand Louis Vuitton and the Italian fashion house Gucci, as well as the loading-up on the pricey iPhones in glamorous Apple flagship stores.
“It is a real contrast,” a source said, decrying how tax payers’ monies are spent abroad, while many citizens suffer in a country where 55 percent of the nation’s population lack access to electricity.
Nigeria recently secured a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to improve the economy, having hit by the global Coronavirus pandemic.
According to the source, “These trips to London may be reason why some cases are most interesting to the Attorney-General, compared to others. Do these photos portray to us the reason why the government is dragging out a long case against P&ID? Could it be that they can simply guarantee more expensive trips to London for ‘necessary’ court hearings and meetings (and therefore shopping trips)? This is especially important as Malami claims P&ID is a ‘vulture fund.’
The source said adding, “The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, loves to tell the Nigerian people how he is a crusading corruption crime fighter; yet, his approach is far from consistent.
“Malami’s hard-charging ways have been reprimanded by U.S. Senators – who worry over his big ‘pay day’ with the Abacha loot – who were concerned that the Abacha loot could fall back into the hands of the former dictator’s family and allies because of Malami’s dealings with them.
“After all, Malami went so far as to even describe the stolen Abacha loot as ‘assets,’ which as we know couldn’t be farther from the truth. Those monies belong to the good people of Nigeria; not his friends like Governor Bagudu.
“His flagrant comments led to angry denunciations from the victims of the former dictator, and also from civil society groups, opposition politicians and the media. There was grave worry that he intended to give the cash back to the late dictator’s family. Despite assurances to the US Department of Justice and the US Ambassador to Nigeria, this was not the case.
“Malami attempted to defend his remarks by shifting the discussion to his record on fighting corruption, noting that anyone involved in corruption – whether they be ‘members of the ruling or opposition parties and otherwise’ – are in no way spared from the reach of his office, and the ‘numerical data of recorded judicial convictions’ proves it. The truth, however, is quite different when viewed in the cold light of the day,” the source added.
“Many have complained bitterly about the 2019 Corruption Perception Index released this year, which ranked Nigeria the fourth most corrupt country in West Africa, and 146 out of the 180 enlisted countries in the world.
“The ranking falls directly under the Attorney-General’s tenure and does not give confidence in his so-called ‘crusade against corruption,’ ” a source said, adding, “Let’s look no further than the famous Malabu Oil and Gas deal scandal where over $1bn USD was looted, or the case of Sen Danjuma Goje, who was implicated in the theft and mismanagement of public funds, while he was governor of Gombe State.
“In both cases, according to Transparency International Nigeria representative, Mr Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, the Attorney-General and his team of “anti-graft” investigators at the EFCC looked the other way. Too often, though, foreigners give Malami and the EFCC a free pass and do not apply the proper scrutiny.
“Then there is the infamous P&ID saga, a multi-billion-dollar dispute that pits the Attorney-General and his government against an Irishman, a dead man and his estate, and a New York hedge fund.
“On this case, Malami shows no sign of looking the other way. He has been loud and bullish. What is not clear is why/what is different about this particular case to make him so passionate?,” another source queried, apparently referring to the London’s shopping spree.”
When contacted for comment, Malami could not respond, neither did he react to the WhatsApp message sent to him.