It took a threat from the House of Representatives that a warrant of arrest would be issued against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to force him to appear before it on Tuesday.
Malami had shunned two previous invitations by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the invasion of property and arrest of seven judges by the Department of State Services (DSS).
At the committee’s sitting on Tuesday, Malami disclosed that he authorised the raid on the homes of judges and their subsequent arrest by the Department of State Services (DSS) only after several petitions sent to the National Judicial Council (NJC) were not acted upon.
According to Malami, no law was broken in raiding the homes of the judges because there was reasonable evidence.
“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 could be conducted at any hour, any moment without restriction,” he said.
On the criticism that the DSS was not the statutory agency empowered to effect the raids and arrests, Malami said he had powers as the AGF to decide which agency to deploy on a case by case basis.
“To the question of which agency has the responsibility of executing it, my response to that derives from the fact that multiple petitions were written to the Office of the AGF, DSS, EFCC and a lot of other agencies of government, and to my mind, I have a discretion to look, weigh the situation and decide which agency against the background of the petition will act for the purpose of ensuring that the obligation of the provisions of Section 15(5) of the constitution are carried out.
“I asked EFCC and 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.”
The AGF also explained that the raid was carried out because the NJC refused to act on the petitions sent by his office and to other agencies accusing the judges of corruption, revealing further that the NJC said it could only act on petitions that were backed by sworn affidavits.
Malami said he also advised the DSS to write the NJC to look into the petitions it (DSS) also received against the judges, and got the same response for supporting affidavits.
“So we had a situation where there were reasonable grounds for suspicion for commission of corruption and we had a body saddled with the primary administrative responsibility of looking at such things first, but seemed not to be cooperating in that respect.
“Meanwhile, when the issue of commission of corruption practice is established, the executive has the responsibility of investigation without recourse to the judiciary,” Malami said.