Stop EFCC from prosecuting alleged corrupt Nigerians- Ex NBA President urges new justice minister
A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, has charged the newly sworn-in Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Lateef Fagbemi to restrict the powers of the anti-corruption agency, EFCC, to conduct investigations alone and step aside from prosecuting alleged corrupt Nigerians.
“There are pressing tasks to be carried out urgently by the new Attorney General of the Federation. Major reforms of the criminal justice system with particular reference to the utter confusion in the duplicated work of our law enforcement agencies in particular EFCC and ICPC are urgently needed. Also, there is a need to unbundle EFCC and restrict them to investigation only while a new National Prosecution Agency ought to be established,” he said on Monday, in a post on X platform, formally known as Twitter.
Mr Fagbemi was among the 45 ministers sworn in on Monday at the State House Conference Center, Abuja by President Bola Tinubu.
Mr Agbakogba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should not take up the duty of prosecution pending the establishment of a new national prosecution agency.
Mr Agbakoba has in the past acted as a major critic of the operations of the EFCC.
Last year, he criticised the Commission for continuing to look into the Kogi state Governor Yahaya Bello and his family over allegations that they had stolen N10 billion, claiming that the EFCC lacked the constitutional authority to look into how a state spent its funds.
Mr Agbakoba described the EFCC’s investigation into the Kogi government’s affairs as “unwarranted.”
In his statement on Monday, the senior lawyer also said a key reform should include a complete overhaul and decentralization of the Nigerian police force.
He also called on Mr. Fagbemi to address the issues of some of the country’s outdated laws, which he considered as urgently needed.
Citing the case of Rwanda, Mr. Agbakogba said the East African nation modified 1000 laws.
He said, “Another key reform would be a completely decentralised Police Force at the local state and Federal levels. A major revamp of our outdated laws is urgently needed to follow the Rwanda example that modified 1000 laws. Last but not least the AGF must work on Speed of Justice. It’s a crying shame it takes upwards of 15 years to conclude cases from the High Court to the Supreme Court.
“Finally but not exhausted is to create sector-specific dispute resolution Agencies to free up the utterly cluttered dockets of the regular courts.
“The other very important task before the Attorney General will be the unnecessary and wholly inefficient matter of over-centralization of our superior courts. There is no better time than now to hack down the highly centralized Court systems in Nigeria. The AGF is invited to consider major constitutional amendments to create a system of Federal and State Courts. State Courts ought to have exclusive jurisdiction over matters related to them.
“This is also the case for Federal Courts whose Jurisdiction must be limited to Federal causes. This will free up the Clutter at the Supreme Court and make it the Policy Court it ought to be in the first place.
“We have a brilliant Attorney General in Lateef Fagbemi SAN. I am convinced that this will be a simple task for him. He is not only a very good colleague but also someone in whom I have the highest confidence regarding his abilities,” he wrote.