For The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to perform its statutory obligations to the people of
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.
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.