Setting Aside The  Rule Of Law : The EFCC Tragedy

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Acting Chairman, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu

That Buhari’s failed APC federal government has dragged the country 30 years backwards cannot be controverted. Even officials of the Buhari administration cannot point to a reasonable project, initiated and completed by this non-performing administration.
However, the most worrisome aspect of the failed APC federal government is the courage with  which it dispenses and promotes impunity.  I was shocked beyond words when I read that the president in the presence of the leadership of the Nigeria Bar Association and the nation’s judiciary declared that the rule of law must be subjected to the supremacy of national interest.
The questions that readily come to mind;  who determines national interest ? Are we not deepening the process of impunity and dictatorship? Why would a federal government  circumvent due process for political expediency?
The bar and bench watched helplessly with this desecration of the temple of rule of law.  This explains  the negative slide by the country on all fronts.
One area where the Buhari administration has fundamentally destroyed this country is in the area of the fight against corruption.  This is an ungodly film trick by a failed APC federal government with the active connivance of the media.
Since 2015, the APC federal government has conscripted the media into her unholy media trials, orchestrated by an EFCC that is tainted by corruption itself. Recall that the Department of State Services (DSS) indicted the perpetual Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr Magu for alleged fraud. He has not been investigated, let alone prosecuted.
Using the media with reckless abandon, the EFCC has consistently  destroyed the foundation of the rule of law. They use newspapers and the electronic media to throw-up rumours and allegations against perceived opponents of the failed APC federal government.
On Sunday night, I received a text message from a correspondent of Vanguard Newspaper on the EFCC charade on Rivers State Government. This is the second time this same charade is coming up. The first was before the Rivers Legislative Rerun Elections in 2016 when the APC federal government thought it would use blackmail, fraud and electoral criminality to acquire majority at the Rivers State House of Assembly to impeach Governor Wike.
EFCC  was used in 2016 by the APC federal government to circulate these items of the unfortunate campaign of witch-hunt  through  selected newspapers especially Vanguard, Punch and Nation. That tranche of media war failed and Rivers people voted PDP, defended their votes with Governor Wike fully entrenched in line with the will of the people.
The regrettable aspect of this media war is that the EFCC  knowing the position of the law as contained in the 2007 Judgment against the commission, embarks  on deliberate   illegality.
This is why the EFCC pays media organisations  to publish unsigned statements that negate  the ethics  of journalism.  This illegal form of journalism has been entrenched by the APC’s EFCC since 2015 because the APC Federal Government hates the  rule of law.
The 2007 injunction obtained by the Rivers State Government was clear about the restrictions on the EFCC.
The 2007 Judgement stated: “An order of injunction restraining the 1st defendant (EFCC) by itself or by its servants or agents or in any manner however from disseminating, publishing or circulating to any government, government agency, the news media, or members of the public or in any manner at all, purported  findings in respect of any investigation or inquiry into the appropriation, disbursing, administering or management of the funds of Rivers State or putting the said report or finding to any use whatsoever is hereby made.”
It was because of the above that no official of EFCC signed or owned the statement where unfortunate false allegations were made against the Rivers State Government. A federal government agency that deliberately contravenes for political reasons cannot be relied upon to fight corruption.
On the powers of EFCC to look into the books of the  Rivers State Government, Justice I. Buba in the March 20, 2007 judgment had this to say: “I declare that under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the 1st defendant (EFCC)  is not entitled to share in the power of the House of Assembly for Rivers State, vested on it by virtue of section 188 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and accordingly is not entitled to coerce, induce, intimidate or in any manner whatsoever influence the House of Assembly for Rivers State into removing or causing to be removed, or into taking any steps whatsoever towards removing the Governor of Rivers State or the Deputy Governor of Rivers State from office.”
It is on the strength of this judgment that Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike stated that the EFCC lacks the power to investigate Rivers State Government.  It has no power to investigate any state of the federal republic for that matter. Governor Wike noted: “We are  not afraid of their probe and they have no power to probe  us. No government official will appear before the EFCC until they set aside the court judgment of Rivers State Government against them in 2007. We cannot be intimidated.
“They filed for leave to appeal the judgment at the Court of Appeal. Until they  set aside the judgment, we will  not come. We are aware of their tricks. They should not bother engaging in media trial because it will not work. This is mere political witch-hunt.
“They must obey the law. We have filed another action against the EFCC.  Because they have been served, they are telling the press that they have started investigating Rivers State Government. This media war by the EFCC  will not work. We stand on the rule of law”.
Hon. Justice I. N. Buba in his 2007 judgment against EFCC harped on the principles of Separation of Powers thus:
“This case reminds me of what I read on separation of powers that: the small depiction in the Bible; That there are 66 books in the Bible and 66 Chapters in Isaiah; They are clearly divided into sections, Chapters 1 -39 (They are 39 books in the old testament and chapters 40- 66 (They are 27 books in the new testament). The theme also corresponds with the 1st set of chapters addressing law and government of God and the second group covering grace and salvation of God.”
It must be stated quite clearly that the EFCC is an institution that derives her powers from the National Assembly. The National Assembly legislates for the good governance of the federal government.  It considers the budgets of the federal government, while the state assemblies performs similar functions for  the respective state governments.
It is on this premise that several Acts of the National Assembly have to be domesticated by state  assemblies to be  effective.  Many state assemblies are yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act passed by the National Assembly, hence the ineffectiveness of the Act. The National Assembly  Act setting up the EFCC cannot be any different.
Under the present sharing FAAC formula, about 52.68 per cent is allocated to the federal government from the Federation Account, 26.70 per cent to the 36 states and 20.60 per cent to the 776 local government areas.
The federal government takes the lion share, thereafter through the  EFCC  tries  to micro-manage the 26.70percent that accrue to the states. The EFCC   has never stampeded the federal government on her expenditures. It has no such control.
Several petitions have been written against the  agencies under the presidency and federal Ministries over the years, EFCC has never been courageous to question their  finances and expenses. The reason is obvious, the EFCC is not on ground to fight corruption, but to hold opposing governors hostage.
On what basis is the EFCC interested in the withdrawals of another tier of government.  Should governors now write to the EFCC chairman to obtain permission of the type of withdrawals to make before embarking on selected projects and programmes?
Is it in line with extant laws for the federal government to attempt to manage the expenditures and operations of other tiers of government through proxy, in this case, the EFCC?
The United States Department of States recently released a damning report on the level of corruption in Nigeria. It even berated the federal government for the cosmetic anti-corruption war. The U.S State Department in a 48-page report posted on its website categorically stated that impunity remained widespread at all levels of government in Nigeria, further noting that the Buhari-led administration lacked transparency.
According to the US report, “Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security services.”
Due to the high level of corruption at the federal government level over  the last three years, the country’s debt profile has crippled the economy.
The  Guardian, in an Editorial of 27/08/18, stated “According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s total debt has increased by about 90% in almost three years from about N12.6 trillion in December 2015 to about N22.71 trillion as at March 2018. The DMO figure indicates that total public debt prior to the 2018 budget stood at about N21.17 trillion.
“With the N1.95 trillion budget deficit of the 2018 budget and the $475 million loan agreement recently signed with the French government, following the recent visit of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, total debt will stand at about N23.645 trillion with debt service likely to increase beyond the N2 trillion provision in the budget. “
The DMO is an agency of the federal government.  So is the DSS that indicted the EFCC for corruption.  Nothing has been done to check corruption at the federal Level.
It for this reason that the APC Federal Government has no single project it initiated and completed in three years.  Instead it basks in the projects of President Jonathan in the rail, aviation and transport sectors. With over N30trilion expended and several loans obtained, the APC Federal Government has nothing  to show for her three years in Government.
Under this failed APC Federal Government, national resources are withdrawn and handed over to APC officials to buy votes. It happened in Ondo, Ekiti, Rivers and the recent bye-elections across the country.
Security Agencies escorted funds in bullion vans in broad daylight  for vote-buying.  Because these acts of criminality favoured the APC, EFCC was never directed to harass anyone.
But the APC Federal Government prefers to question the withdrawals of the most vibrant state in terms of developmental projects.  This is a country that has states like Kogi, Kaduna, Katsina, Bauchi, Edo, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Plateau, Kebbi, Zamfara, Osun and Ondo where governance have gone on exile and their governors are perpetually in Abuja to caress the ego of a non-performing Presidency.
For the purpose of emphasis, the APC Federal Government through the EFCC cannot assume the position of the Rivers State House of Assembly.  It should focus her attention on the 52.68 percent of the country’s monthly revenue that accrues to the Federal Government.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.

 

Simeon Nwakaudu