EFCC, The Rule Of Law, And The Rest Of Us

by Femi Sobowale

For The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to perform its statutory obligations to the people of Nigeria with credibility, it should be seen to abide by the decision of court of competent jurisdiction. Not to do this, constitutes an abuse of office on the part of the commission, and should be condemned by all without exception. The present situation where the commission is reported to have violated the court’s order restraining it from prosecuting former Abia state governor, Chief Orji Kalu serves as a reference point.

According to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa, the anti-graft body should not have prosecuted the former Abia state executive based on the order of court on the matter. Subsequently, the minister threatened to take over the case, citing section 174 of the 1999 constitution which vested in him the power to do so. This scenario would have been unnecessary if the commission has duly obeyed the court of law which granted the relief to Chief Kalu in the first instance.

It is very important that the commission is conducting its operations in the manner that suggests respect for the law of the land no matter which side of the divide it finds itself. After all, before its creation, there were existing laws dealing with corruption at every level of governance. Its coming should be seen as complementing and enhancing the arrest and prosecution of corrupt public officials, and not to humiliate them in any manner as we are witnessing right now.

To flagrantly disobey court’s order is unacceptable in the present dispensation as Nigerians are trying hard to put the past where such orders are flouted with impunity behind them. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s administration is credited with its avowed belief in the rule of law, and any conduct of government’s agencies that contradict this amounts to an opposing view which should be condemned promptly. Nigeria’s constitution gives independence to all tiers of government, and this should be respected if the dividends of democracy we all crave are to be realized.

By virtue of its position as an anti-corruption body, the EFCC should be aware of the fact that, its actions and conducts will be questioned by the accused persons in the court of competent jurisdiction. It is therefore important that the commission should be prepared to abide by restriction order of court as in the case of Chief Orji Kalu. For the Attorney General of the Federation to threaten the commission with a take over is not in its best interest as an operator with a credible and respectable public image.

Apart from the credibility problem the commission is currently facing in respect of apparent selective manner it chooses to prosecute the ex-governors, its operatives had been largely considered disrespectful in their handling of prosecuted former governors. Situations where the former state executives are publicly manhandled speak volume of the level of respect accorded our leaders irrespective of their offences while in office. It should be noted that they are adjudged innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Any punitive measures taken against them outside the pronouncements of the court is by all means a violation of their fundamental human rights.

The EFCC can not and should not arrogate to itself the power of the court in dealing with the accused as it is potentially dangerous for the doctrine of separation of power as embedded in the Nigerian Constitution. The power to impose punishment on the accused is in the hands of the judiciary, and this must be respected at all times. It is out of place to stand the rule of law on its head, and pretend as if nothing happens. The EFCC should not only be upright in its conducts, but should be seen by all to be doing just that.

The enormous responsibilities on its shoulders can not be carried without exhibiting the sense of purpose required for the job it was created to do. Flexing muscles with the Executive arm of government is not a show of strength by any organ of the same government in the Federation. Without being overzealous, the commission’s operatives can still perform their duties creditably well to the admiration of Nigerians. The status of the Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as an incorruptible police officer, and an experienced prosecuting lawyer should not be rubbished, but rather improved upon.

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Anonymous September 9, 2007 - 12:25 pm

To segun akinyode: I love your quote: "Curing us of the corrupt tendencies requires an equally crazy man…" and it really got me thinking, we need to figure out a way soon to relegate these theiving illitrates to their proper level in society. I am a successful forty year old Nigerian father of three living in the states, and I wake up daily, feeling like someone stuck between a rock and a hard place. I want to go home, but don't want to have deal with the likes of Adedibu, OBJ, Atiku and other buffoons on a daily basis just to enjoy the place my Almighty destined as my nation.

I want sit on my balcony in my wrapper, and watch the light of God shine through to every hard working Nigerian without listening to the PDP idiots proclaim that they know better than God Almighty. The current generation of leaders have proven time and time again that they are not only incompetent, they are also not worthy to be called humans. The time is ripe to start figuring out how to eliminate this cycle once and for all.

segun September 9, 2007 - 5:08 am


Honestly, I share your fervour and concern about the need to obey court orders and abide by the rule of law and the dictates of the constitution while administring Nigeria.It is the right thing in order to create the conducive atmosphere necessary for nation-building.But you will agree with me that it is almost impossible to do anything by the law in Nigeria if our anticedents are assessed.Where was the rule of law and the constitution when a sitting governor stole one million pounds?What did the rule of law do to caution Mr Obasanjo when he sat on the statutory allocation of local government councils of Lagos State in spite of the country's supreme court's verdict that his action was illegal?A probe panel found Bode George guilty of embezzling Nigerian Ports Authority funds to the tune of over a billion naira, what has happened to him?A governor decalred that he was running the business of state at a loss,he was applauded.The money that was used to host the Commonwealth heads of state by Obasanjo was not part of the budget he presented to the National Assembly,where did he source the funds? Emeka Ofor took one billion dollras for Turn Around Maintainance of Nigerian refineries soon after Obasanjo was sworn in in 1999, months after that the refineries all collapsed.The man is still walking the sreets of Nigerian a free man.Between 1999 and 2007 Obasanjo spent 1.3 trillion naira on NEPA.The supply is still arratic in Nigeria today.I have lived in Nigeria for more than four decades, and I want to submit that the issue of the rule of law should be reserved for the sane society.Nigeria and Nigerians, myself included, are very sick.Curing us of the corrupt tendencies requires an equally crazy man.Honestly, I have said it before and I am saying it again, we need somebody in the mould of Jerry Rawlings to handle Nigeria.With the likes of Obasanjo,Atiku,Babangida,PDP and a host of others alive, Nigeria is doomed.


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