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.
2023: Bayelsa PDP Delegates To Support Pro-Restructuring Aspirants – Diri
Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri has said People’s Democratic Party (PDP) delegates in the state would support any presidential aspirant of the party that will restructure Nigeria if elected.
Governor Diri spoke on Friday when he received former Senate President and presidential aspirant, Senator Bukola Saraki, in Government House, Yenagoa.
According to the governor as an oil and gas producing state, which contributes huge revenue to the country’s economy, restructuring would ensure equity and fairness to the oil-producing Niger Delta region, the state and the Ijaw nation in particular.
The governor, while stating that the Federal Government, as presently constituted, does not encourage productivity and competitiveness, but has turned the federating units to beggars where states go cap in hand to Abuja on monthly basis for revenue sharing.
He said there is too much concentration of power at the centre, which has prevented the country from functioning effectively, adding that devolution of power would enable states to develop at their own pace.
The Bayelsa governor restated his call on aspirants to place the interest of the party and country above their ambition, saying that as an opposition party, what is required to wrest power from the ruling party and rescue the country from total collapse is unity among members.
“You talked about certain things that touch us as a state. You talked about the restructuring of this country. The Ijaws have always talked about justice and equity. As a state that produces oil and gas, which has been the mainstay of our economy, we subscribe to any aspirant that has included restructuring of this country in his manifesto, to ensure equity and justice.
“The Federal Government is too centralised and nothing will work. Certain powers have to be devolved to the states and let the Federal Government face only common issues that are central to all of us. So this blame game of the previous government will stop.
“Let us go back to the foundation of this country where we had regions that took responsibility for their economy and policies. Allow the states to carry some of the responsibility.
“The present structure does not make room for productivity and competition among our states. State governments go cap in hand to our Federal Capital Territory in the name of federal allocation.”, he said.
Earlier, Senator Saraki said Nigeria was moving towards becoming a failed state in terms of security and its poor economy and needs a competent person to reverse the drift.
2023: NNPP Vows To Spring Surprises
The National Chairman of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, says his party will shock those taking it for granted.
He said this Saturday during a media briefing held at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja.
Alkali said the party leadership had commenced the process of repositioning NNPP into the political landscape of the country by offering Nigerians an alternative platform to save democracy and rescue the nation from the stranglehold of the “two old, hegemonic and visionless political parties”.
On NNPP primary election, he said the party had begun the process of electing candidates for the 2023 general elections, stating that, “This will start on Monday 16th May 2022 with the screening of state Houses of Assembly aspirants culminating in the presidential primary in Abuja on June 2nd 2022.”
He said the party was equal to the task as it had put in place all measures to avoid rancour during the forthcoming primary election.
“Let me assure you, and through you the Nigerian public, that come 2023, NNPP will spring surprises in the polls.
“And when by the grace of God we come into government, we shall tackle all the issues of insecurity (by whatever name called), restore the value of the Naira, create job opportunities for millions of our youths, accord women their rightful place in government, revive moribund industries, including the textile, manufacturing and SMEs as well respect the rule of law and fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution.
“Let me once more assure Nigerians that unlike what is happening now, the NNPP administration would give every Nigerian a sense of belonging as nobody would be treated as a second class citizen or discriminated or marginalized on the basis of tribe, religion or sex.
“Given the massive support we have received and continue to receive so far from people across the country, we are very confident and optimistic that very soon and in no distant future it would move from its current ranking as the ‘third force’ to the top in Nigeria’s political space….I can assure you that NNPP will soon be the number one force in the country,” he added.
On zoning controversy, Alkali distanced NNPP from the arrangements, saying the party would not carry “excess baggage” of other political parties as it was not founded based on ethnicity and religion.
He, however, promised that the party would provide inclusive governance and ensure balancing along geo-political zones.
2023: NSA Puts Top Politicians On Watch List
Ahead of the 2023 general elections and other off-season elections in the country, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has placed politicians who exhibit tendencies to subvert the electoral process on the watch list.
Accordingly, the ONSA said heads of security and law enforcement agencies have been tasked to step up close monitoring and profiling of political actors no matter how highly placed.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), disclosed this in his remarks at the meeting of the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja.
Monguno said that his office had noted with utmost concern, the growing uncertainty heralding the conduct of party primaries for the 2023 general elections.
“This is in addition to the unabated spate of violence that threatened the upcoming off-cycle gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states, arising from internal party wrangling, increasing acrimony and bickering among political actors as well as the inability of various contending political blocs to amicably resolve differences in line with democratic tenants,” he said.
Mungono who was represented by Sanusi Galadima, said the disturbing development had already culminated in intense power play capable of heightening unnecessary political tension across the country.
More worrisome according to him is the unguarded utterances by some highly respected individuals and groups which, more often than not, amplify divisive narratives to the detriment of national security and stability.
Accordingly, he said, “Heads of security and law enforcement agencies have been tasked to step up close monitoring and profiling of political actors no matter highly placed who exhibit tendencies to subvert the electoral process, even as thugs and their sponsors would equally be trailed for possible arrest and prosecution.”
He emphasised the need for INEC to enjoin political parties to consistently abide by prescribed rules as outlined in their respective manifestoes.
Earlier in his remarks, the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, lamented the general security situation in the country and its impact on the electoral process which according to him is a source of concern to the commission.
Yakubu said the commission was however confident that with nine months to the 2023 general election, there was enough time to respond to the security challenges and secure the nation for elections to take place nationwide. He said the timetable for the election has also been released.
“Let us not wait until a few weeks to the election before we realise that time is not on our side and begin to seek for extension of timelines. The time to act is now.
We wish to reassure the security agencies that we will continue to work cooperatively with you to ensure the success of all forthcoming elections and electoral activities,” he said.
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