FOR allegedly refusing to prosecute telecoms giant, MTN Nigeria Limited, over its indictment by a special team set up by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Dahiru Abubakar, for its role in the call log saga involving the former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, a rights group, Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiatives, has reported Justice Minister, Mohammed Bello Adoke, to President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a letter sent to the President, Executive Director of the group, Sam Ayodeji Popoola, said the attitude of Adoke to the prosecution of MTN Nigeria Limited shows that crime pays in the country.
The IGP team had indicted the telecoms giant for allegedly tampering with the call logs of Salami, several Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) chieftains and the party’s legal representatives, to conceal their telephone interactions while they had matters pending before the Court of Appeal. Consequently, the report recommended the prosecution of MTN for criminal liability.
The letter reads: “The release, early this year, of a Police Report, which indicted MTN for allegedly suppressing evidence it (MTN) availed law enforcement and security agencies when Justice Ayo Salami’s case went before the Special Investigative Panel set up by the National Judicial Council to investigate allegations of corruption against the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, was widely reported in the February 12, 2013 edition of several national dailies.
“The purport of the aforementioned Police Report is that MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd allegedly tampered with the call logs of Justice Ayo Salami, several Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) chieftains and the party’s legal representatives, to conceal their telephone interactions while they had matters pending before the Court of Appeal. Consequently, the Report recommended the prosecution of MTN for criminal liability.
“Please note, Mr President that we have refrained from passing judgement on MTN because that is not our remit. Only a court of competent jurisdiction is vested by our Constitution with the powers to pronounce the guilt or innocence of an accused person or entity.
“However, we, Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative (ASRADI), a Civil Society Organization whose raison d’etre is to demand accountability, transparency and good faith of officialdom, are at a loss as to why, nearly five months after the release of the Police Report in question, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has failed, refused or neglected to act on the Report’s motif: charge MTN to Court.
Section 174 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states: Inexercising his powers under this section, the Attorney-General of the Federation shall have regard to the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process.
“Would the Attorney-General be acting in the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent the abuse of legal process if he fails to prosecute MTN as the Police have recommended?
“Is the Attorney-General’s unwillingness/reluctance to act on the Police Report consistent with your Administration’s Transformation Agenda?
“Where is the place of the rule of law in this scheme?
“Does politics have any role to play in all this?
“Are certain entities above the law?
“Considering the security challenges our country is presently grappling with, need we emphasize the security implications of the manipulation of call data records by any operator?
“These are a few of the questions we believe should be posed to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, if the Transformation Agenda of your Administration is not to be regarded by Nigerians as an empty, ineffectual mantra. Justice delayed is justice denied. Or, is there more to this than meets the eye? Grateful, use your good offices to remedy this glaring anomaly”.