According to a leaked list of President Muhammadu Buhari's ministers, Femi Falana, the famous lawyer and human rights activist, is being considered as the next attorney general of the federation (AGF).
President Buhari’s decision may be caused by the need for a person with a strong character and a sound background in law.
Leadership’s investigation disclosed that the president’s choice of Falana was not only grounded in his apparent forthrightness and liking for fighting for the interests of the under-privileged, but also because Buhari sees the lawyer as someone who can lead his anti-corruption war.
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Some media sources had earlier reported that Nigerian leader was considering Falana or Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN) as the next AGF.
But the realisation by the president that without an up-front and strong courtroom lawyer like Falana, who knows all the tricks in the books as the AGF, his decision to prosecute and return stolen funds from ex-government officials and their assistants would be near impossible. The source added that the development may have forced Buhari to give Falana the job.
Another motive which may have caused the choice is the immediate need to reform the judiciary system and the Ministry of Justice.
A presidency source said one thing Buhari is not happy about is the huge judicial debt that federal government ministries, departments and agencies have accumulated over the years due to the apathetic attitude of lawyers in the Ministry of Justice in defending cases filed against the administration.
He said that at the last count the judgement debts owed by the federal government are over N1 trillion and most of them are from undefended cases.
The source also claimed that federal lawyers prompt questionable lawsuits that have accumulated into enormous judgment debts by encouraging plaintiffs to file claims, so that they can present a weak defence on the government’s behalf.
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The source also spoke on why Falana would make the difference as the next AGF.
He said: “There are many instances where the justice ministry just refused to defend or appeal cases in court. It is true that Buhari is looking for competent judges to handle corruption cases that would soon be filed in court. But the questionable conduct of some judges in recent time has underscored the need for an holistic reforms at the instance of competent AGF.
“A case where judges issue restraining orders against the anti-graft agencies and also grant unnecessary adjournments is not good enough and this may scuttle Buhari’s resolve to fight corruption.”
The APC leader Bola Tinubu and Vice President Osinbajo were said to have told Buhari that appointing Falana, who he jailed over 30 years ago, would boost his image as a ‘converted democrat.’
Muhammadu Buhari is currently on three-day state visit to France, where he is having talks aimed at stopping the deadly Boko Haram insurgency.
The list of Buhari’s appointees is undergoing screening by the Department of Security Services.