The Special Assistant to the President on Prosecutions, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, on Saturday, said the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), may report the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu; and Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Ekpo Nta, to the Presidency.
He revealed that the heads of the agencies could be sanctioned for insurbodination for withholding the case files of more than 35 ex-governors and senators from the AGF.
The case files requested by the AGF in separate letters to both agencies were for ex-governors, including Bukola Saraki (Kwara, now Senate President); Ali Modu Sheriff (Borno); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia); Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu); Saminu Turaki (Jigawa); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Joshua Dariye (Plateau); Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); James Ibori (Delta); Martin Elechi (Ebonyi); Danjuma Goje (Gombe); Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); Ikedi Ohakim (Imo); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Achike Udenwa (Imo); Ubong Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom); Jolly Nyame (Taraba); Rasheed Ladoja (Oyo); Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo); Adamu Mu’azu (Bauchi); Lucky Igbinedion (Edo) and Peter Odili (Rivers).
Senators on the list included Stella Oduah and George Akume.
Obono-Obla said the refusal of the two anti-corruption agencies to forward the files to the AGF since July 2016 when the request was made had caused a setback to the anti-graft campaign of the Federal Government.
He had on Tuesday alleged that the EFCC and ICPC were not cooperating with Malami, which had led to the loss of some high-profile corruption cases.
Speaking on Saturday, Obono-Obla said, “When this administration came on board, one of the reforms that were initiated was the setting up of a National Prosecution Committee to complement the efforts of the anti-corruption agencies and the Department of Public Prosecution.
“A team of highly motivated lawyers, investigators and policy makers were brought in. The committee was inaugurated on May 27, 2016 by the then Vice President, now acting President.
“The essence of the committee was for us to take on the looters of our treasury and we have to ask the heads of the anti-corruption agencies to furnish us with case files starting from 2006.
“You remember that former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, had told the National Assembly at a time that 32 former governors were being investigated by the commission. So, we demanded the reports so that we could file criminal proceedings against those ex-governors indicted in those reports. I also made a similar application to the ICPC, but they refused to comply.
“Most important, we asked them to give us the files of senators under investigation. We wanted to, after getting those files, file an order of interim attachment of properties belonging to the suspects under investigation. This is because under Section 28.4 of the EFCC Act, when suspects are arrested, the commission attaches all the properties acquired under that financial crime.
“So, we wanted to really wage a war, get those files and carry out those attachments so that Nigerians will know we are really serious about this war on corruption. And disappointedly, they refused to hand over those files and have refused to work with the AGF.
“The AGF is the chief prosecutor of the country and I see no reason why agencies under his supervision should not cooperate with him.
“The AGF is bothered and he may likely take a definite position. What the bosses of the agencies have done amounts to insurbodination under the public service rule because the AGF is a chief legal officer and the agencies under him are to respect him. The AGF’s position may be to report the heads to the Presidency.”
The Special Assistant to the AGF on Media and Publicity, Salihu Isah, told SUNDAY PUNCH in Abuja that the office of the AGF would keep the pressure on based on heads of the anti-corruption agencies to release the case files.
He said, “Everything we are doing is official procedure. We are not relenting. We have decided to put further pressure on the agencies. That is the best option for now.
“If the pressure doesn’t work, we know how to handle the situation.”
When contacted, the spokesman for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, referred one of our correspondents to the official response of the commission last week.
The EFCC’s Head of Legal Department, G.K. Latona, had last week denied claims that the commission was not cooperating with the AGF.
He said, “We are not working at cross purposes with the office of the Attorney General of the Federation; we are cooperating with them. We have a wide range of corruption cases in concert with state agencies.
“The Attorney General’s office has the right to initiate new high-profile corruption cases and investigate them without waiting for cases initiated by the EFCC. We are also working on best practices manuals for the prosecutors and investigators. If we want a corruption-free society, we must all work towards it.”
The spokesperson for the ICPC, Mrs. Rasheedat Okoduwa, did not respond to calls or text messages sent to her by one of our correspondents.
Arrest lawmakers ignoring invitation, Sagay tells EFCC
The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), however, asked the EFCC to arrest any lawmaker that refused to honour the commission’s invitation when he spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday.
The lawmaker representing Anambra North Senatorial District, Senator Stella Oduah, was invited by the EFCC on June 20, but refused to honour the invitation.
It was learnt that she also did not write any letter to the commission stating reasons for not honouring the invitation.
Oduah, a source said, was invited over some petitions bordering on the purchase of two armoured BMW vehicles at N255m by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority during her tenure as aviation minister in 2013 and the N9bn contract for the remodelling of some airports.
She had filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit, asking the court to stop the Attorney General of the Federation’s office, the EFCC, and the police from inviting, arresting, investigating or prosecuting her but the court denied her request on October 6, 2016.
Oduah, it was learnt, was emboldened by a Senate resolution three weeks ago in which the senators resolved not to recognise the authority of the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu until he stepped aside, having been rejected twice by the Senate.
Similarly, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Leo Ogor, who was invited by the EFCC as part of investigations into the N284bn budget padding, refused to honour the invitation.
The Clerk to the House said in a letter that he was directed by the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, to tell the EFCC that Ogor or any representative be invited through Dogara.
However, Sagay said the EFCC should not hesitate to arrest anybody who failed to cooperate.
He added that the commission had the power to arrest anyone without an arrest warrant.
He said, “The EFCC is an institution; so, recognising Magu or not is totally irrelevant and until the Supreme Court says Magu is no longer chairman or acting chairman, the Senate cannot refuse to recognise Magu or the EFCC as an institution.
“If the EFCC invites you, you must go. There is no law that says invitation letters must come through the leadership of the National Assembly. The EFCC can inform the leadership as a matter of courtesy but letters should go directly to the person being invited.
“The danger now is that if they keep insisting on this, the EFCC will arrest her (Oduah).
“In fact, the law allows the EFCC to make arrests without a warrant if it has a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed a crime. So, I think the woman is taking a risk.”
Similarly, a human rights advocate, Femi Falana (SAN), said no one had the right to ignore an EFCC invitation.
Falana said, “The EFCC does not need to go through the leadership of the National Assembly because they are like other members of the public. There is no law that says letters must come through the leadership of the National Assembly.
“Whether you recognise Magu or not, what of the institution and other staff in EFCC? Are they not doing their work? So, if you say you don’t recognise the Inspector General of Police, wouldn’t you recognise the commissioners of police in every state? Doesn’t the EFCC have zonal heads in every state?”
Sagay should contest in 2019 or keep quiet –Senate
The Senate on Saturday replied Sagay, asking him to stop making ‘nonsensical statements’ capable of denigrating the nation’s parliament.
The red chamber stated this while reacting to a statement credited to the professor of law, which was widely published in the mass media on Saturday.
Sagay had described the 8th Senate as the worst in the history of Nigeria, adding that its members would be kicked out in 2019 general election.
He also described the ongoing constitution amendment by the National Assembly as a hypocritical exercise, which would lead nowhere.
He further lambasted the Bukola Saraki-led Senate for refusing to devolve power to the states, scrapping the State Independent Electoral Commission and for refusing to ensure 35 per cent affirmative action for women.
But the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, asked Sagay to go back to the classroom if he had become overwhelmed by the national assignment given to him.
Sabi-Abdullahi said, “He (Sagay) is entitled to his opinion. That people can make nonsensical statements is the beauty of democracy but to be totally irresponsible in denigrating state and democratic institutions is definitely unacceptable. He is not speaking as a private citizen, given his position in this government.
“He needs to guard his utterances. He is in a democratically elected government brought about by the electoral victory of our great party made possible by the collective efforts of party members, including members of the Senate and House of Representatives.
“If he does not understand the decorum and values of democracy, let him go back to the classroom; if he is still needed there. His disdain for the National Assembly surely makes him anti-democratic. In the alternative, I challenge him to contest in 2019 or forever remain silent.”