Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Worgu Boms has pegged efficient intelligence gathering as a sure resource to combating economic and financial crimes in the country.
Speaking at the 32nd International Symposium on Economic Crime at the Jesus College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, Boms said Nigeria will benefit a great deal in global information and intelligence sharing as it battles the scourge of economic crimes if put in proper use.
He said, “Since economic crimes are part of the global transnational crimes committed in or between different countries, without being based on any particular location and facilitated through the use of internet technology and other techniques, the use of intelligence as the raw material for ensuring the detection and investigation of these crimes must correspondingly respond to the sophistication in nature and perpetration of such crimes.
“The extent to which we manage intelligence and protect the integrity of its sources, analyses as well as their proper utilization determines to a large extent the strength or otherwise of any initiative in the fight against economic crime. The positive use of intelligence to improve the efficacy of investigations and to facilitate the distruption of economic crime may constitute both the sword and shield in the arsenal in the fight against economic crime.”
Boms also stated that the Nigerian police which is “the primary agency established under the constitution and charged with the responsibility for the prevention and apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order and the protection of lives and property” can make great progress in the fight against economic crime and other corrupt practices in partnership with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) using high intelligence and surveillance techniques as obtainable globally as well as the powers invested on them by the law.
“As part of the statutory functions of the EFCC, its empowered to adopt measures to identify, trace, freeze, confiscate or seize proceeds derived from terrorist activities, economic and financial crime related offences or the properties, the values of which correspond to such proceeds; and the coordinated preventive and regulatory actions; introduction and maintenance of investigative and control techniques on the prevention of economic and financial crimes. The EFCC also has responsibility for receiving, requesting analyzing and disseminating to competent authorities disclosures of financial information concerning suspected proceeds of crime and potential financing of terrorism.
“From the existing legal framework on economic crime in Nigeria, it is evident therefore that the use of intelligence is the most potent weapon in the fight against crime. There is also in Nigeria, the money laundering prohibition act as amended, which contain clear provisions that make the use of intelligence mandatory in the detection, investigation and prevention of economic crime… the act provides under section 6 for special surveillance on transactions which have unjustifiable and unreasonable frequency or surrounded by conditions of unusual complexity or appear to have no economic justification of lawful objective or involve suspected terrorist financing. Transactions involving any of the above circumstances are to be reported to the commission by the financial institution or designated non-financial institution, furnishing all relevant information about the transaction including the identity of the principal and the beneficiaries and take appropriate action to prevent the laundering of the proceeds of the economic crime,” he stated.
The Rivers State Attorney-General however decried the Nigerian financial crime law which pitchs lawyers against their clients by mandating them to report suspicious transactions by their clients to the authorities.
He explained that it would be contradictory of the lawyers’ profession to act as both defender and attacker of their clients at the same time, calling for a review of that aspect of the law that makes Nigerian lawyers police detectors against their clients.
“I was here last year and reported then, that in Nigeria, the law now includes lawyers as non financial institutions and thus are expected to report their clients to the authorities if transactions with which they are concerned for their clients are suspect under the law. This therefore is another source of intelligence gathering, but for me a very uninspiring one at that. As I stated then, ours is the only profession in the whole world, not engineering, not medicine, not even the priesthood, but the legal profession that is charged with the enviable onerous and to me a defying duty of defending even the most scoundrel and despicable of persons accused of crime. To expect these professionals to report the same persons they are ethically and statutorily enjoying to defend to the authorities amounts to enjoining somebody to cry and to laugh at the same time, because as you know, when lawyers have big clients, they laugh, to tell them to report to the authorities, they’ll begin to laugh and that is very contradictory.
“Let the police do their work of investigations and detection, let the lawyer do his work of defending or prosecuting depending on where he is called, that way the coast will be clear for a pure and unpolluted investigation and intelligent gathering process. Some of these irksome provisions which put the lawyer as the defender and attacker, the money laundering act stipulate mandatory disclosure of transactions by financial institutions, the prohibition of anonymous accounts and the surveillance of bank accounts for the purpose of ensuring the detection and prevention of economic crime all by or through banks of financial institutions.
“We do not need to pitch the lawyer against his client to make success. If we remove that, we can still attain some milestone. No efforts therefore should be spared by individuals and groups in strengthening intelligence gathering and sharing between states in the collective fight against the global scourge of economic crime,” Boms noted.
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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