Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice, has written to President Muhammadu Buhari, denying the allegations of corruption levelled against him.
A coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) had asked the president to probe Malami over “14 high-profile corruption cases”.
The CSOs listed “financial fraud” and “influence peddling” among the allegations levelled against the AGF, while calling for his resignation.
Malami was also accused of “illegally” auctioning sea vessels holding crude oil seized by the federal government.
Reacting to the allegations, Malami said he needed to write to the presidency in order to clear his name, and that he would also seek redress in court.
According to Vanguard, the minister said in his letter that the allegations were orchestrated to ” falsely portray me as a corrupt officer who used public office to acquire wealth and build an empire”.
Malami, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said before his appointment in 2015, he had a “successful legal practice of more than 20 years” and “owned lucrative business” which earned income from.
He said he declared all his assets and statements of accounts upon his assumption of office.
Explaining that none of his wealth is ill-gotten, Malami said: “While the code of conduct for public officers prohibits my active participation in the running of my already established ventures, it does not preclude me from gaining the fruit of my establishments.
“Since my appointment as a minister in your cabinet, I have conducted myself strictly within the confines of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers contained in Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended.
“It is to be noted that apart from my successful legal practice of more than 20 years, seven of which were as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, before my appointment, I have as allowed by law had interests in business ventures, all of which I had resigned from active participation upon my appointment.
“Among other things, I owned lucrative business ventures of Rayhaan Hotels and Rayhaan Food & Drinks, both in Kano, since December 13, 2013, years before the 2015 election that saw to the victory of President Muhamadu Buhari as the President and long before I was appointed to be a Minister in the first term. That informs why those items were included among 27 property listed in the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, Form filled by Malami when he was first appointed a minister.
“Apart from the above as income from the government, Your Excellency is invited to also note that while the Code of Conduct for Public Officers prohibits my active participation in the running of my already established ventures, it does not preclude me from gaining the fruit of my establishments. Hence, earnings from mainly the hotels, restaurants, farms are used to either improve these ventures or to expand and build new ones. In all these, the requirement of the law is that I declare at the point of exit from office as I have declared at the point of entry.
“On assumption of office in 2015, I had course as a constitutional requirement to file my assets declaration form at the point of assuming duty as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria detailing my assets which include: my houses (both residential and others) farmlands, hotel, school and other enterprises.
“Statements of accounts from all my banks were also submitted to the Code of Conduct which were duly verified as is the procedure after submission is made. A copy of the form is attached hereto as annexure1, should Your Excellency wish to personally review it. “As a public officer, my sources of income were streamlined and narrowed to my entitlements from the government coffers. These entitlements come in the form of salaries, allowances and estacodes. For the period, I have served as a Minister (for the 1st term) starting from November 11, 2015 to May 28, 2019, the cumulative figure of what constitutes these entitlements is as provided for in our laws relating to the salary and emoluments of political office holders.
“I have taken a personal decision to seek remedy from the court as a result of the series of derogatory contents so published against me. In the same vein, I have written the Inspector General of Police to investigate the matter.”
Malami earlier defended himself, saying he committed no illegality in approving the auction of the sea vessels, for which Kabir Akingbolu, a human rights lawyer, said the AGF risks five years in prison.