The Special Assistant to the President on Prosecutions, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, has told the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, to act on the order given by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), warning that there will be “consequences for insubordination.”
The AGF had ordered the EFCC boss to forward to him the case files of ex-governors, including Bukola Saraki (Kwara, now Senate President ); Ali Modu Sheriff (Borno); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Achike Udenwa (Imo); Ubong Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom); Jolly Nyame (Taraba); Rasheed Ladoja (Oyo); Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo); Joshua Dariye (Plateau ); Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara ); and Gabriel Suswam (Benue), among others.
The EFCC boss had allegedly withheld the files from the AGF since July 2016 when the request was first made.
The follow-up request was made on August 1, 2017.
Obono-Obla told one of our correspondents that the August 1 letter to the EFCC was a follow-up request on the files of indicted former governors and senators, warning Magu that there would be “consequences for insubordination.”
Obono-Obla said the EFCC was not more patriotic than the office of the AGF, adding that the commission must involve the minister in any case that is above N50m.
He said, “A letter dated August 1, 2017, was written to the EFCC, urging the commission to comply with the EFCC Enforcement Regulation that was made in 2010. The regulation requires that in any case above N50m, the EFCC must carry along the office of the AGF from investigation to prosecution.
“The letter was about the case files because if the cases are not well prepared, the office of the AGF will be blamed for it. So, the office wants to carry out its oversight function. The EFCC cannot be more patriotic than the office of the AGF. Why is it that the EFCC is not cooperating when we are working for the same government?
“If the EFCC refuses to act on the letter, there will be consequences on acts of indiscipline and insubordination. There is no personality clash between the two heads. It is wrong to say that there is a clash. The EFCC is an institution and the office of the AGF is another institution. What we need is compliance. We should not personalise our institutions.”
However, Malami on Thursday said there was no rift between him and Magu, over his request.
The AGF, who held a press briefing on the maiden National Summit on Justice scheduled for the second week of August, was asked to comment on whether Magu’s alleged refusal to forward the case files to the AGF office had affected their relationship.
Malami said, “It has not; thank you.”
Earlier, the AGF said, “I am not going to comment over a news item I have not watched.”
But the EFCC said that there was no conflict whatsoever between it and the Office of the AGF.
The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, attributed reports of the clash between commission and the AGF to mischief makers in an e-mail on Thursday.
Uwujaren said the EFCC was adhering to stipulations of the law and had no intention to be in conflict with the office of the AGF over the request to forward “serious” cases to the office.
He said it was not tenable for the commission to have a conflict or plan a showdown with the AGF or other government offices, adding the operational responsibilities and activities of the commission are within the confines of the law.
He said, “The EFCC has been consistent in its position that there is absolutely no conflict with the AGF.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, the EFCC is compliant with all the provisions of law and has no intention to stoke a misunderstanding over any request from the Minister of Justice.”
Uwujaren added that the conflict between the commission and the AGF’s office only existed in the imagination of corrupt elements out to create a nonexistent conflict to further their criminal acts.
“Any such conflicts being paraded exist only in the fertile imaginations of corrupt elements angling to knock heads together in furtherance of their own pro-corruption agenda,” Wilson said.
Meanwhile, the justice ministry has explained that the national summit on justice would bring together all stakeholders in the sector.
According to Malami, the stakeholders would consider, adopt and validate the draft National Policy on Justice developed by a technical committee constituted by the Federal Ministry of Justice in 2016.
“Given the challenges militating against an effective administration of justice and the peculiarity of our federal system, there is the need to harmonise and integrate the various reform initiatives into a clearly articulated national justice policy,” he said.
He explained that the policy would define Nigeria’s political philosophy with respect to justice delivery.