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Govt to face contempt charge over court order on recovered loot

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Minister of Justice  Abubakar Malami

Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami

For allegedly failing to comply with the judgment ordering publication of the spending of recovered stolen funds since return to democratic rule in 1999, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has commenced contempt proceedings against the Federal Government, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris.

Already, SERAP, through the Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, has filled the form 48 contempt suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos, following the service on Mr. Malami and Alhaji Idris of the certified true copy of the judgment of 24 March 2016 by Justice Muhammed Idris.

Form 48, which is the notice of consequence of disobedience of court orders reads in part: “Unless you obey the orders of the court contained on the reverse side of this process you shall be deemed to have disobeyed the orders of the court and shall be liable to committed to prison for contempt.”

Mumuni said, “Despite the service of the certified true copy of the judgment on both the Attorney General of the Federation and the Accountant-General of the Federation they have failed and/or neglected to acknowledge the judgment let alone obey it. It is unacceptable to take the court, which is the guardian of justice in this country, for a ride. A democratic state based on the rule of law cannot exist or function, if the government ignores and/or fails to abide by court orders.”

The 69-page judgment in suit no: FHC/IKJ/CS/248/2011 signed by Justice Mohammed Idris reads in part: “Transparency in the decision making process and access to information upon which decisions have been made can enhance accountability.”

“Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the Constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a constitutional democracy like ours, this is meant to be the norm.”

“In respect of the SERAP reliefs on recovered stolen funds since return to democracy in 1999, the government had kept mute. Let me say that they have no such power under the law.

“There is public interest in public authorities and high-profile individuals being accountable for the quality of their decision making. Ensuring that decisions have been made on the basis of quality legal advice is part of accountability.”

“The government has no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide SERAP with the information requested, and therefore, this court ought to compel the government to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, as the government is not above the law,” he added.


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