There seemed not to be any let up in the battle of wits between the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice and that of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
The fued between the duo bubbled up again Friday with the AGF denying that it leaked classified information from the EFCC on the alleged probe of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen and other prominent Nigerians on corruption.
Media reports alluding to the EFCC had alleged that the office of the AGF had deliberately leaked classified information concerning the purported investigation of the CJN and others by security agencies over corruption.
But a visibly angry AGF Friday not only denied the allegations but took a swipe at the sponsors of the report, describing it as, “the unfortunate and unbecoming innuendo by certain persons and agencies which sought to accuse his office of leaking what was termed as classified information to the public”.
In a statement signed by comrade Salihu Isah, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the AGF, the Minister wondered how the EFCC could accuse the AGF of leaking a document that does not exist in the first place.
“The attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has been drawn to a report in the media space insinuating that the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, GCON and other former and serving government and judicial officers are under investigation for alleged corruption.
“This office therefore wish to state categorically, but with absolute repudiation, that it did not at any time leak such information to the media as wrongly alluded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The pertinent question to ask is since the EFCC has publicly denied that the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria is not under probe or investigation; is it then possible for the same EFCC to have forwarded any classified information on a non-existent probe or investigation of the Honourable CJN to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation?
“It also goes to show that the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation could not have leaked a non-existent classified information on an equally non-existent probe or investigation.
The statement further adds that the AGF strongly frowns at any unsavoury attempt or conspiracy to drag his office and that of the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria into petty squabbles in the midst of burning national issues.
Malami also reaffirmed what he described as his, “deep respect for the distinguished person and office of the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria”.
“we will never be party to any unpatriotic effort to denigrate his exalted office. We wish to state unequivocally that the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation will continue to collaborate with His Lordship in his efforts to reform the judiciary and galvanize the anti-graft war. Indeed the present administration appreciates His Lordship for his unwavering support for its anti-corruption drive.
“We wish to state further that we are neither aware of nor privy to any purported probe or ongoing investigation of the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria by any security or anti-graft agency. The office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation dissociates itself from the baseless allusion or suggestion obviously made in bad faith to the effect that His Lordship is under any form of probe or investigation whatsoever.
“In view of the above, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice wishes to emphatically reiterate that he has profound confidence in the Chief Justice of Nigeria and wishes His Lordship the very best in the discharge or performance of his daunting duties to the nation at large”, the statement read in part.
Other high-profile Nigerians listed in the purported investigation for corruption include former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance under ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, present Minister of Solid Minerals Development and former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, a sitting judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice Abdu Kafarati, among others.