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Malami’s ambition and the Kebbi fleet

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The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, appears to enjoy controversy. He has always been in the news, for mostly wrong reasons, especially entangled in some unsavoury situations.

Since the advent of democracy in 1999, no Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) cum Minister of Justice has courted controversies like the incumbent.

Malami was the national adviser for the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), a party founded by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2010.

He was later appointed by Buhari in 2015 and is regarded as one of the key members of his cabinet.

In the course of his duties, Malami had, on different occasions, triggered an avalanche of storms.

After months of speculations and series of denials, Malami laid to rest the controversies surrounding his gubernatorial ambition, when he stated that people from his state — Kebbi — have been pressuring him to contest the governorship position.

So, on 28, he his to vie for the Kebbi governorship in the 2023 general election, on the platform of the everything Progressives Congress (APC).

As pundits debated the legality of his governorship ambition while serving as Federal Republic of Nigeria’s Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Malami, once stirred the hornet’s nest with his reported donation of expensive to woo loyalists in support of his gubernatorial ambition.

The viral pictures of the vehicles, including Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs)  from luxury brands like , GLK, Toyota, among others, were shared on social media platforms during the week.

And: Amaechi, Malami, others weigh five alternatives to resignation

It was learnt that Malami gifted about 14 Mercedes-Benz (GLK), eight Prado SUVs, four Toyota Hilux, and four Lexus LX 570s to associates and other persons.

Interestingly, the vehicles were distributed days after he declared his to join the Kebbi governorship contest.

This stirred widespread reaction with many condemning his action; but Malami’s rose to his defense issuing frantic rejoinders to criticism of his action.

In spite of frantic rejoinders from Malami and his supporters, many commentators refused to accept Malami’s narrative, given his antecedents.

Speaking on the of the vehicles, the Adviser to Kebbi , Yusuf Rasheed, who Malami, said the donation was part of efforts to ensure that the humanitarian activities of the Khadimiyya Foundation reached the grassroots.

Malami is reported to be one of the key stakeholders of the foundation, a non-governmental organisation, which is based in Kebbi State.

While Malami’s media , Umar Gwandu, said the minister’s friends and loyalists supported his governorship ambition with N135m, the friends of his principal, he said, gifted the vehicles to “long-term workers in the Khadimiyya Foundation.”

Gwandu also denied the allegations in some quarters that the vehicles were given out as a soft landing for his principal, to enable pick the governorship ticket of the everything Progressives Congress (APC) in Kebbi for the 2023 elections.

Reacting, senior lawyers including Femi Falana, condemned the donations, describing it as illegal.

In his statement on the donations, Gwandu said, “It is abundantly clear that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has teeming supporters from home and beyond.

“This has been demonstrated not only by the calls from far and near for him to vie for Kebbi’s gubernatorial seat in the forthcoming election but also by the donations from friends, associates and supporters of N135m. The recent donation of N135m has for donations and support of many including vehicles by well-wishers.

“The story attributing vehicle distribution to Malami was mischievous and misconstrued information. It was friends and associates of Malami who donated and distributed vehicles to long-term workers in the Khadimiyya Foundation.

“The occasion was not for distribution of vehicles to any APC stakeholder. None of the APC stakeholders or delegates in Kebbi State was given any vehicle by Malami.”

But faulting the donations, the lawyers argued that Malami had breached Paragraph 6, Part 1 of the 5th Schedule to the Constitution and the Code of Conduct for public officials.

Falana stated, “He has breached the provisions of Paragraph 6 (1) of the Code of Conduct for public officers which provide that: ‘A public officer shall not ask for or accept or of any kind for himself or any other person on account of anything done or omitted to be done by him in the discharge of his duties.”

Another lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe faulted Malami for receiving the donations, describing it as wrong and illegal. Adedipe stated that it was contrary to constitutional provisions.

Another lawyer, Tosin Ojaomo citing section 121 of the Electoral Act 2022, described the receipt of the donations by the AGF as bribery and conspiracy.

Arguing in favor of Malami, the former General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Afam Osigwe SAN, disagreed that Malami had violated the law, insisting that he could receive political donations as an aspirant.

Malami in an attempt to clear the air on the controversy said, “In this moment, I have a barrage of attacks, left, right and centre, some are local and others international, an attack that has to do with an allegation that I shared many expensive vehicles to delegates of APC.

“As a person with some associates, neither I nor a friend of mine shared any vehicle to any delegate across the state.”

Malami described the story as mischievous and misconstrued.  He said, “Let me state categorically that some of the foundations, as Khadi Malami and Khadimiyya for Justice and Development Initiative I am associated with over time, have workers who have demonstrated a greater capacity in the development of the state.

“These associations have contributed immensely in poverty alleviation, provision of social amenities to remotest areas, empowering unemployed and women, as well as small and medium-scale farmers and businessmen and women, among others, in the state.“In appreciation of what the workers of the associations have been doing in the state and beyond, the supporters of the associations, collectively and individually, decided to solicit support from well-meaning Nigerians that have been supporting the NGOs in order to reward those that have been manning the affairs of the NGOs,” he said.

Malami explained that it was his friends and associates who donated and distributed vehicles to long-term workers in the Khadimiyya Foundation.

“I know I had an interactive with APC stakeholders some days ago and had accepted calls from Kebbi people to run for the state governorship; the meeting was not for distribution of vehicles to any APC stakeholder.

“None of the APC stakeholders or delegates in Kebbi State was given any vehicle by me, and I have not yet donated any vehicle to any delegate.

“The mischief-makers can contact the National Secretariat of the APC, get the lists of all the APC stakeholders and delegates in Kebbi State.

“You too can do an investigative story to reach out to them, then you will realise how fictitious the claim is.

“There is no connection between the names of APC stakeholders and the beneficiaries of the vehicles and are not connected whatsoever,” the minister pointed out.

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