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Rejigging The Modus Operandi Of The EFCC, By Douglas Ogbankwa, Esq

 

 

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I saw the movie “Olufinmilayo which is a depiction of the admirable life of Mrs. Olufunmilayp Ransome-Kuti, the mother of Fela Anikpolakpo Kuti , who was the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria and the first to buy a car, being the forebear of the President, Mrs. Efurulayo Tinubu.

One thing struck me in the movie.
The Alaka of Egbe Land was defiant, even when he could make concessions to the Abeokuta Women led by Olufunmilayo , when the Abeokuta Women Club led by her asked for some concessions. Instead of conceding, the Alaka clamped down on the women, until the women overthrew the Alaka and they were installed by the colonialists as the leaders of the Abeokuta Native Authority. The lesson does not underrate a movement; it could move you out of power . The Kenyan President was smart enough to realize that .

My I remind the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, HE, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu , GCFR , of his campaign promise that he will find a way to use the Yahoo Boys to improve the ICT industry by using their skills for economic development.

Recently, there has been resentment about the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). This is tied to the audacious and flagrant invasion of houses, student hostels and hotels by operatives of the EFCC. Sometimes their operatives, while invading hotels , hostels and breaking doors of hotel rooms, see the spectacle of couples copulating , some of whom are married couples, being seen completely naked . Our courts have not helped matters , treating these issues with kid gloves and emvolding the briggards.

It makes Nigeria look like a society that existed in the Stone Age. These operatives of the EFCC have forgotten the ENDSARS.So , the Gen Zs are about to remind them with a protest . The protest is gathering momentous momentum. That was how the ENDSARS was underrated until it nearly consumed the Buhari government.

Instead of looking at the issues raised, the media men of the EFCC are releasing press statements filled with bellicose rhetoric. They are unaware that these Gen Zs are like suicide bombers; they do not care about their lives; they have not even been given a good reason to live in Nigeria. So any intending protest is an opportunity for them to die as martyrs instead of dying in the ignomy of suicide.

It then behoves on the EFCC Chairman to look into all the issues that have caused the disaffection that is now tending on Twitter. The EFCC should be proactive and not reactive . The chairman should not follow the old order; he should bring in new perspectives. This situation requires thinking outside the box .

The agency, though before now had a very poor human rights record , which unfortunately has been condoned by some courts, the current Chairman of the EFCC has tried to give the Commission a new lease of life and improve their human rights records .He is the first chairman to do so, but a lot still needs to be done .

Firstly , there is indiscriminate arrest of citizens with out following the due process of law . Apartments and Hotels are broken into with reckless abandon and young people tagged “Yahoo Yahoo Boys “, are packed from apartments and detained indefinitely, with their properties, mostly cars , laptops and phones carted away, some innocent citizens are also victims and sadly some of them end up in prison .This is a kind of stereotyping and fractionation precluded by Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , 1999 (As Amended ) ,as not all young boys who wear yuppy clothes or wear trendy hair styles are “Yahoo Yahoo Boys”.

When it is time to release the suspects, they would give the relatives of the suspects obnoxious Bail Conditions asking for level 14,15,17 and above Civil Servants or a House Owner with Certificate of Occupancy,a complete illegality as the Law on the Matter -the Administration of Criminal Justice Act,2015, provides that the first line of Sureties should be blood relatives of the suspects and the Law does not give the holding facilities powers to impose extraneous conditions ,not provided for by Law. Also the case of Dasuki v. Director General State Security & Ors (2019) LPELR-48113 (CA), states that a Civil Servant standing as a Surety any where is illegal as same contravenes the Public Service Rules (PSR).When the family Members produce the Sureties, some times paying huge sums to the Sureties to do so ,the EFCC Operatives will now spend another 2 to 7 days to “confirm” the Sureties, when the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) stipulates in Section 36 that suspects should not be detained for more than 24 Hours, after arrest. When you fight them with the Law , they will go and arraign you in a jurisdiction, that it will be difficult for you to get sureties in Court .These and more are malaise the EFCC Chairman should stop and give the Commission a new brand.

The EFCC should desist from investigating Matters pertaining to contracts as the EFCC is not a debt collector as has been stated in a Plethora of cases by the Supreme Court and other Superior Courts of Records.

The EFCC is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ,how come it investigates mainly Financial Crimes and it rarely investigates Economic Crimes? We rarely hear about the following crimes :Oil Bunkering , Oil Racketeering, Palliative Racketeering, Under payment of Import Duties ,Currency Trafficking, the Massive Exchange Rate Fraud , Forgery of Customs documents, Customs Officers collecting money at borders and on the high way like high way robbers, NIMC Officials collecting money from poor Nigerians before attending to them for their NIN and National ID Card, it is called Bribery and corruption, how come we hardly hear any thing about Bribery ,mostly, we hear about corruption.

The EFCC should follow the due process of Law in all its activities as it is a creation of Law. To this end, the EFCC should stop the practice of using a mere letter to a Bank to freeze the Accounts of Citizens,they could incur damages. They should also stop the practice of writing with red paint “EFCC Keep Off” on Citizens’ Properties ,except they have a Court Order. They should also stop the illegal practice of seizing the cars of Citizens with out a Court Order.The EFCC Act provides for interim forfeiture of properties using Ex Parte Orders.Any cars seized with out a Court Order must be released forthwith. There should also be an electronic tracking system in place to track all seized properties and a public auction sale of same,after due process, with an open bid, open to public participation and public scrutiny,to ensure accountability and probity. As an Anti -Graft Agency ,the EFCC like Caeser’s Wife must be above board.

The EFCC should also know that Lawyers are partners in progress and not enemies. When they see a Lawyer, they should accord him the requisite respect and co-operation. Lawyers make your work easier if you knew how to deal with them properly, they can also make your work incredibly difficult . They are Ministers in the Temple of Justice and EFCC Officials are Officers of the Law .Their functions are interwoven as the EFCC itself cannot prosecute with out Lawyers. So, it is high time there was a synergy between the EFCC and Lawyers to preclude needless litigation and allow for a seamless operation of the Anti- Graft Agency. If you make working with you difficult for Lawyers, Lawyers will make it very difficult and some times impossible for you to work with others.

We do pray that the EFCC meets its mandate and reaches the objectives set by the Founding Fathers, who created the Organisation.We call on the Chairman, who is a colleague, to do more get the Organisation better .He must be bold enough to do the extra ordinary.

About the Author:

Douglas Ogbankwa Esq @douglasogbankwa@gmail.com , a Lawyer ,Writer and Policy Analyst is the Convener of the Security Situation Room and the Co-Convener of the New Edo Movement.

About The Author