A Civil Society Organisation, CSO operating under the aegis of Nigerian Movement for Probity and Accountability, NMP, has called for the prosecution of Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai over alleged sale of federal government properties between 2005 to 2007 when he was the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
The group, in a statement jointly signed by its National Coordinator, Mr. Bako John Isaac, National Secretary, Mallam Garba Kaoje and Director of Publicity, Alhaji Salisu Abdulkadir and made available to our correspondent on Friday, reminded the federal government, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and other anti-graft agencies that the proceeds of the sales which was worth N32 billion was allegedly missing became a subject of litigation against the governor in 2019.
According to the statement, the CSO was monitoring the case while it lasted in the court up till the time, it was discontinued, but said time was ripe for the continuation of the case.
It noted that the governor knew well the guidelines set by the Federal Executive Council, FEC in the sales of the government houses, which it believed was not properly observed by El-Rufai at the time.
“El-Rufai at the time understood succinctly that the Federal Executive Council under the former President and Commander-in-Chief, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo approved guidelines for the sale of Federal Government properties in the Federal Capital Territory which the transaction under the Nasir El-Rufai was questionable.
“With regards to remitting the sum of N32 billion into the coffers of the Federal Government at the time, Nigerians need to know,” the group stated.
At the time legal proceedings were initiated against El-Rufai by the EFCC between 2018 and 2019, the CSO said he had become the executive governor of Kaduna State, hence, he enjoys immunity which the anti-graft agency could only investigate and not prosecute him.
This was confirmed by Justice Binta Nyako vide the Federal High Court ruling on 20th November, 2019, where she held that, “no court would stop the EFCC from investigating anyone in line with its constitutional mandate. No court, including this one, will allow itself to be used to shield anybody from being investigated by the 1st respondent.”
The group said the court ruling was at the backdrop of El-Rufai’s spirited and audacious move to stop the EFCC from investigating and prosecuting him over the proceed of sales of the federal government houses in the FCT when he held sway as the minister.
It recalled that, while the economic crimes investigation was progressing, the governor rushed to the court through the suit: FHC/ABJ/CS/60/09 seeking the court’s determination whether, as the then minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), he had complied with the guidelines approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the sale of Federal Government Houses between May 2005 and May 2007.
El-Rufai as an applicant approached the Federal High Court through an originating summon with catalogue of reliefs where he mentioned the EFCC, FCT Minister at the time, FCDA, AGF, CBN, the now rested Oceanic Bank, Access Bank PLC, defunct Intercontinental Bank, Aso Savings and Loans Limited, Union Homes, Akintola Williams Delloite and Aminu Ibrahim & Co., and seeking a declaration that the sum of N32 billion being proceed of sales of Federal Government Houses and 2005 between 2007 in FCT was remitted into the Federation Account.
“Unfortunately, the Section 302 of 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 3 and 18 of the FCT Act 1990, which El-Rufai sought the court’s determination cannot stop the EFCC’s investigative powers which consequently made the anti-graft agency to file counter-affidavit in objection to the prayers, in which it had submitted that the motive of the applicant was to stop the commission from investigating him in order to cover up the alleged fraud perpetrated when he was FCT Minister.”
The NMP insisted that the matter should not be allowed to be swept under the carpet, particularly that the accused will hand over as governor of Kaduna State on 29th May, 2023 and will not be covered by immunity anymore, adding that El-Rufai should cooperate the EFCC to prove his innocence as he would want the nation to believe.