S’Court Scuttles Plot To Use EFCC To Malign, Defame Key Political Figures
The Supreme Court of Nigeria has ruled that Section 46 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act should be construed within the narrow confines of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, the precursor to the establishment of the EFCC – to prevent illicit financial outflow from Nigeria.
The apex court, in a landmark judgment in Dr.Joseph Nwobike (SAN) Vs. Federal Republic of Nigeria, Appeal No. SC/CR/161/2020, told the anti-graft agency that its powers to investigate and prosecute financial crimes under Section 46 of the EFCC Act was not at large.
It held that the EFCC could not hide under its Act to usurp the functions of other law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies like the police, Office of Federal and State Attorneys General, Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee, and National Judicial Council (NJC), among others.
The court further held that in so far as those agencies were in place and for offences that had been clearly defined by penal and criminal codes; the EFCC had no business dabbling into such areas.
This landmark judgment comes on the heels of public outcry over what many have described as the excesses of the EFCC and its operatives vis-a-vis the limits of its powers.
There have been questions on why a federal agency would be exercising oversight powers on states under the guise of financial crimes, when each state has its penal and criminal codes dealing with such offences.
There are concerns about the principle of federalism, whether a case where a federal agency is probing into the finances of states is not an abridgment of federalism.
For instance, the apex court that held in Ehindero Vs. Federal Republic of Nigeria that EFCC derives its power from that of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), looked the other way when the issue of propriety of EFCC prosecuting former Governor Shehu Shema in respect of an offence committed in Katsina State, without the fiat of the Attorney General of Katsina State.
Lawyers have said that the Supreme Court has, by this judgement, corrected the anomalies of the past and restored constitutional order by reinforcing the prosecutorial powers of the AGF under Section 174 of the Constitution for federal offences and the powers of Attorneys General of the respective states under Section 211 of the Constitution.
The justices of the apex court must be commended for this show of courage in restoring constitutional order, Amos Olalere, an Abuja-based lawyer, said.
“EFCC has no role whatsoever in intra state pursuit of public officials or private contractors under the guise of fighting corruption. Their role as captured by the UN convention on fighting corruption, defined by the law establishing the commission, and as affirmed by the apex court, is to prevent illicit financial outflow from Nigeria,” he noted.
The tenure of the judgement is an indictment of EFCC and the supervising ministry that an agency set up to prevent outflow of money from Nigeria, abandoned its core mandate and got enmeshed in activities that are clearly outside its purview.
This judgement clearly calls for a total overhaul of the agency in order to position it to focus on and pursue the important task the agency was set up to do.
Ahead Of Inauguration: Reach Out To Opposition, Kenyatta Urges Tinubu
Former president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, has advised President-elect Bola Tinubu to “overhaul” any “adversarial mindset” and reach out to those aggrieved by the results of the presidential poll to build a more unified Nigeria.
Kenyatta spoke on Saturday while delivering his speech as a guest speaker at the inaugural lecture preceding the swearing in of Tinubu as president of Nigeria.
He advised the president-elect to ensure his leadership encompassed all citizens, regardless of whether or not they supported him during the election process.
The former president of Kenya said Tinubu must surround himself with voices that challenge his own, adding that he will “lose nothing and gain everything by reaching out across the political, ethnic and religious lines”.
“The contest is now over. And the hard work of building a prosperous and unified Nigeria now begins,” Kenyatta said.
“Upon assuming the office of president, you would be wise to transcend from the tactical politics of an election and assume your role as Nigeria’s vision bearer. This will demand a complete overhaul of the adversarial mindset that we, as politicians, are conditioned to embrace during the electoral process.
“As president, you must learn very quickly to lead those who do not love you and those who love you with equal passion and commitment because you are now the father of all.
“Your Excellency, when countries are in election mode, the people and their leaders are more divided than ever and boxed into their various sectarian and partisan interests.
However, when you are the head of state and you take command of the country’s armed forces, you become the embodiment of the sum total of the many different ethnic groups and religions that make up your country, and you become the symbol of unity. Indeed, you have become the face of Nigeria.
“I encourage you to surround yourself with the voices of those who will counterbalance the hardliners that feel entitled to a piece of your office. You will lose nothing and gain everything by reaching out across the political, ethnic and religious lines.
“To those who may feel aggrieved by your victory in one way or another, please allow them to exhale and be part of your vision for a greater Nigeria.
“It is my hope and my prayer that the lessons from across the continent will give you the resolve to walk the difficult path of overcoming those three enemies.
“I started by mentioning the three enemies of nationhood: negative ethnicity, religious discrimination and corruption. As your fellow African, I look forward to a Nigeria that emerges from this transition, ready to flex and fight for its rightful place on the global stage with both hands at the ready.”
Tinubu was declared the winner of the presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and he’s billed to be sworn into office on May 29.
However, major opposition parties during the election have gone to court to challenge the outcome of the election.
Last Day In Office, Buhari Apologises For Painful Economic Policies
President Muhammadu Buhari has apologised for the negative impact of some his economic policies on Nigerians.
The president spoke in his farewell broadcast to the nation yesterday.
Buhari acknowledged that some of his administration’s policies caused “temporary pain and suffering” to Nigerians.
He added that although the decisions were “difficult choices, the measures were taken for the overall good of the country”.
“In the course of revamping the economy, we made some difficult choices, most of which yielded the desired results,” the president said.
“Some of the measures led to temporary pain and suffering for which I sincerely apologise to my fellow countrymen, but the measures were taken for the over-all good of the country.”
Buhari was elected Nigeria’s president under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015, ending the 16-year rule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
FG Confers Nigerian Citizenship On 385 Foreigners
The Federal Government has conferred Nigerian citizenship on 385 foreign nationals from different continents across the world.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, made this known at the 1st 2023 Conferment ceremony of Nigerian citizenship by naturalisation and registration on Saturday in Abuja.
The minister said one of the objectives of the present administration was to lay a solid socio-economic and political foundation that would elevate Nigeria into one of the 20 great economies of the world.
He said to achieve this vision, the federal government was determined to encourage and attract foreigners, investors, resourceful individuals and people with rare talents and unbounded energy into the country.
“Today’s conferment ceremony will be granted to 385 foreigners who have gone through diligent checks by the relevant agencies of state as stipulated by the constitution and have fulfilled all statutory and administrative requirements.
“I need to state that the acquisition of Nigerian citizenship is a great privilege and not everyone that applies becomes successful.
“However, that we have a high number of foreigners willing to become Nigerians is an indication that the ongoing efforts to make Nigeria a destination for investment and peaceful coexistence is beginning to yield good fruits”, he said.
The minister said that it was under the present administration that the largest number of foreigners had been naturalised.
“Between 2011 and 2013, a total of 266 foreigners became Nigerians. In 2017, 335 people took up Nigerian citizenship.
“But last year, 286 foreigners and today at this ceremony, 385, making a total of 671 have acquired Nigerian citizenship.
“I am still not pleased with this figure. In Europe and America, thousands of foreigners are inducted into citizenship every year.
“They do this to attract youths and people in their prime who would like to contribute to the development of their countries.
“The bane of the smooth pathway to Nigerian citizenship, however, is the constitutional requirement of continuous residency in Nigeria for 15 years”, he added.
This, he said, was a huge disincentive, considering that in the U.S. and most European countries, it is five years.
Mr Aregbesola added that some of these countries have made a habit of snatching young and resourceful brains, who after four years of schooling and working for just one year, through easy pathways, obtain migration to their countries.
He, therefore, urged the relevant institutions of state to reconsider this in the next effort at amendment to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Also, while the foreign wives of Nigerian men can automatically become citizens through registration, this same privilege is not available to foreign husbands of Nigerian women”, he lamented.
Mr Aregbesola added that the ministry had been invested with the power to grant permanent residence to foreign nationals who had demonstrated exceptional talents, knowledge and skills in rare fields of Science, Technology and Medicine, among others.
He assured them that they would not regret the decision they have made to become Nigerians, reminding them, however, that every privilege goes with responsibility.
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