EFCC tackles NBA president; says Nigerian Bar populated by ‘rogues, vultures’

EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu
EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has rejected a proposal by the president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Mahmoud, for the agency to be stripped of its prosecutorial powers, saying the call is “self-serving” and aimed at creating “a cabal of untouchables”.

In a stinging statement signed by spokesperson Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC said senior lawyers have been complicit in cases of corruption and money laundering, and some NBA members are “rogues and vultures”.

“It is too much of a strange coincidence that the suggestion to strip the EFCC of its prosecutorial powers is being floated few months after the Commission, in unprecedented fashion arraigned some senior lawyers for corruption,” the statement said.

Read full statement:

The 56th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association came to an end August 26, in Port Harcourt with the bar making pronouncements on major issues of national importance.

One of the new commitments as articulated by the new President of the Association, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, is to reinvent the association by reclaiming its moral high ground through a campaign for ethical rectitude by members of the bar.

“The NBA under my watch will fight judicial corruption. We shall make the legal profession unattractive for corrupt lawyers,” he said.

This is reassuring considering the evidence that senior members of the Bar have become complicit in cases of corruption and money laundering, leading to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arraigning two members of the inner bar for acts of corruption. A Bar populated or directed by people perceived to be rogues and vultures cannot play the role of priests in the temple of justice.

The EFCC appreciates the NBA’s acknowledgement of the Commission’s strategic place in the fight against corruption in Nigeria and the modest achievements that it has recorded so it. It also welcomes the suggestion for reform. As the Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu has repeatedly started in his public pronouncements, the agency is open to suggestions that will improve its operations as it cannot pretend to have a monopoly of ideas on how to fight corruption.

Nevertheless, the Commission views with concern, the call by the NBA president that the EFCC be stripped of its prosecutorial powers. According to him, “We need to define its mandate more narrowly and more clearly… I strongly recommend that the EFCC be limited to investigation… while prosecution should be handled by an independent resource prosecution agency”.

The Commission’s discomfort over this seeming innocuous proposition, stem from the fact Mahmoud was silent on the reason for his position. More importantly, the Commission cannot comprehend how the redefinition of EFCC’s mandate in narrow terms, ultimately whittling it down, fits into the clamour by Nigerians and the vision of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for a vibrant and courageous anti-corruption agency.

Instead, Mahmoud’s suggestions appears perfectly in sync with a cleverly disguised campaign by powerful forces that are uncomfortable with the reinvigorated anti-graft campaign of the EFCC and are hell-bent on emasculating the agency by stripping it of powers to prosecute with the tame excuse that an agency that investigates cannot also prosecute.

The question Nigerians must ask the Mahmoud-led NBA is, what is wrong with EFCC prosecution? Mahmoud is in a position to answer this question. He was the Attorney General of the Federation’s counsel in the trial of former Delta State governor, James Ibori at the Federal High Court, Asaba, a case which EFCC lost in questionable circumstances. But the same ingredients from that case were used to fetch Ibori a 13-year jail term in London. Mahmoud is also the Commission’s counsel in the appeal against the infamous perpetual injunction from arrest and prosecution by former Rivers State governor, Peter Odili, which is still pending before the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, many years after it was filed.

It is too much of a strange coincidence that the suggestion to strip the EFCC of its prosecutorial powers is being floated few months after the Commission, in unprecedented fashion arraigned some senior lawyers for corruption.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission has recorded more convictions in the last one year than all the states and federal ministries of justices combined.

Against this background, the current campaign appears to be self-serving, intended to create a cabal of untouchables who can be investigated but may never be prosecuted.

The EFCC however wishes to reassure Nigerians that there will be no sacred cows in the renewed fight against corruption in Nigeria.

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  • Tunde

    Well replied sir! NBA cannot even begin to suggest to Nigerians how corruption should be fought when they are corrupt themselves! Please put your house in order first!

  • RestructureNigeriaNow

    Not one conviction so far. Not one. You are successful in what Mr. Mango head? Tell us.

  • Truth Justice Equity

    If there is no sacred cows in Magus tales by moonlight story,when then should the likes of obj,tinubu,amaechi,fashola,atiku,elrufai (former fct minister) be investigated and brought to court abi theirs is no corruption.

    • TRUSTIN BRIGHT

      El Rufai is not owing workers salary in Kaduna!

    • TRUSTIN BRIGHT

      Fasola’s performance in Lagos State as Governor is above average if not excellent!

      • Truth Justice Equity

        That’s your own opinion which you are are entitled to,but look at it this way ,may be you may understand .fashola governed Lagos at the height of oil boom,he took in an average monthly income of between 50b to 60b naira at the point when naira was exchanging for 168 to a dollar.fashola managed resources in excess of 5trillion naira for 8 years and at the handover to his successor, he handed a debt of 1trillion ,a Lagos chocked up by traffic because of lack of interconnectivity routes,a Lagos rated third worst in liveability by international rating agents,a Lagos with dilapidated schools where students sit on blocks to take lectures, a Lagos without public water supply, a Lagos with communities not connected to public power supply, a Lagos without light rail not to talk about underground train services, a Lagos with badagri still cutoff from other Lagos ,a Lagos with some communities still not accessible by cars except okada ,a Lagos with no well constructed markets,a Lagos without health facilities that made tinubu to fly to Germany to treat leg pain ,a Lagos without proper drainage systems. That’s the Lagos where your fashola scored your excellence with 6 trillion naira in 8 years. May be the word excellence has another meaning in your vocabulary.

  • CEO

    ” A clear conscience fears no accusation,” is a time tested well grounded fact. And so is Othman Dan Fodio’s “conscience is an open wound, only the truth can heal it.” EFCC’s feverish response to the NBA’s chairman’s proposal is in clear contrast to the above well accepted facts. More disturbing is the personal attack on the NBA’s chairman by the EFCC’s Uwajuren. It appears we are now in an era where decorum and professionalism have been replaced with wanton reactionary instincts and crude disrespect for freedom of expression. Uwajuren’s regurgitation would be overlooked, if the EFCC can stand up to scrutiny. It would be unnecessary delving into the history of the EFCC from it’s inception, as it’s records are open for all to see. Till date, this agency has performed below expectations. Window dressing moves have been made here and there, resulting in even more cynicism from the populace.
    The fact of the matter is that the EFCC needs to reinvent itself in line with the realities on the ground. There is no question that it needs thorough house cleaning, geared towards restoring the confidence of the masses in it’s operation. Ibori may have been convicted and sentenced in the UK, as was pointed out by Uwajuren, however, anyone who followed the case to it’s present state may suggest to Uwajuren not to be too hasty in brandishing it yet as a reference point. Ibori no doubt is a very corrupt person, as was established by the British prosecutors, but the Scotland Yard and the prosecutors are now mired in corruption scandal relating to Ibori’s case. There is more to come. Attacking Mahmoud and the NBA for making a proposal is not sound wisdom, even as it clear that freedom of expression is guaranteed in our constitution. But the other question the EFCC should ask is if it, an an agency respects the constitution.

    • Opekete

      I appreciate your FOS activism and believe. You have however inadvertently put yourself in the same position you accused EFCC of. Freedom of speech does not take away the right for counter argument especially when the counter argument is laced with facts which stares us in the face as incontrovertible. Every action naturally elicits reaction and since we now have two views in the marketplace of ideas, we are in better position to judge as ‘we the people’ the best side to support.

    • MammanJiyaVatsa

      Oga lawyer defender,
      How much bribe was paid into your account to thwart the course of justice ?

    • Emeka

      You are called Ceo, abi? You are indeed ceo of corruption, we big pass una. You thieves and looters are few, and must be crushed.

    • Dejandon

      Did you read that EFCC has accomplished more prosecution to judgement state than all the Federal and State prosecution departments combined?

      What therefore is your benchmark for declaring EFCC as underperforming? Just emotional judgement on your side?

    • udemeobong

      You missed the point my friend and I believe you’re residing outside Nigeria, hence this unconvincing argument.

  • Michael

    Mahmoud is a useless clown

  • Aremu Mathew Okikiolu

    LOL…where is the Bench, nay, Judiciary standing or sitting in this indictment by the Bar?

  • olat

    “EFCC tackles NBA president; says Nigerian Bar populated by ‘rogues, vultures”
    D call log of Tafa may ve revealed what is unknown to d public about d level of rogues n vultures in d NBA.

  • MammanJiyaVatsa

    Justice should be the last baston of common man’s last hope, but indeed the Nigerian senior advocates are rouges and morons attracted to money and gratifications only !

  • Chigoz

    I think the test case for the NBA President is how he quickly disposes the severe allegation of monstrous persecution levelled against the Augustine Alegeh, SAN government by a lawyer whose disbarment was facilitated by that administration. In spite of restraining orders of courts of competent jurisdiction based on the exonerating note from the Supreme Court, the lawyer remains disbarred till date. That is first class corruption if the story is true and the NewBraveBar must begin from there to cleanse the NBA of a stinking Augean stable.

    As a Nigerian anti-corruption agency with Nigerians as its operators, all cannot be well with the EFCC. But instead of proliferating public institutions just to tackle financial corruption, we should compress the ones we have but make them more effective & result-oriented. Orosanye Report has taken care of this if I am not mistaken. NBA should think of how to partner with EFCC for rigorous prosecution without outrageous professional fees as its prime motive.

  • DD

    NBA is composed of mostly crooks and high-level criminals.

  • Dejandon

    Very apt response from EFCC. Imagine a lawyer that prosecuted two high profile cases with questionable outcome now asking for EFCC not to be involved in prosecution, e get as he be that he even managed to secure the highest position in NBA!

  • Peacemaker

    I sw this response coming and the NBA deserves it. There’s a time for everything. Lawyers are on the spot right now. The call from NBA was done at the most inauspicious time. Doctor, prescribe for thyself that which you want to prescribe for the patient!!!!

  • Judge Abang is a poster child that gave judiciary a stinking name. Otherwise, EFCC has no business in the judiciary. EFCC has become the vengeful arm of Buhari and APC desperate to decimate opposition.

    • Gbenga

      Your comments is baseless and have no sense in this discussion.

  • ScrollCreed

    NBA is a useless organ of corrupt semi political elites. I hope EFCC not only prosecute erring lawyers but judges involved in shady and corrupt cases. The judiciary is an arm of the government that has long lost relevance in the tier of governance

  • utolason

    EFCC appears to over restrain itself and by so doing became too generous to NBA president by its response. Left to me I would have said a lot more and reveal a lot more about this new NBA president, his close friends, and his clients. Knowing how poorly most Nigerians rate the NBA senior members, which the body refused to call to order over the years, he should have focused wholly on reforming NBA membership conditions and disciplinary policy. Instead he chose to tell us about EFCC as if it is the only anti-corruption agency we have in Nigeria. More importantly, Nigerians ARE NOT clamouring for EFCC reform but the judicial system as a whole, including NBA.

    I appeal to EFCC team to be aware that there are people like NBA president even in Buhari government, who subtlely are working to undermine their brilliant effort. EFCC should not lose focus because they have the support of over 90% silent majority of Nigerians. That is all they need. It is what brought Buhari back to power and what kept Nuhu Ribadu on the news today (that will probably also give him the president some day). Today, when you say EFCC, people remember Ribadu (like a war hero….of course, he is!).

    • Gbenga

      Good write up.

  • sammyctu ode

    To me and millions of Nigerians, NBA has been a very corrupt devilish blood sucking animals who wants to continue the status quo of impunity and corruption. An association who can elect a corrupt lawyer as their president despite bungling the ibori and odili cases is a totally an association of impunity and animals.

  • Gbenga

    EFCC need to brace up the corruption within their house. To most lawyers, EFCC is a place of plea bargaining and they are ready to share the loot if you can cooperate. Secondly, there is this impression that the acting Chairman covered up the misdeeds and the allegation of embezzlement of over N1trillion levelled against Lamorde by suspending the officers that leaked the story to the press. He true this can be, nobody has truly heard anything on this story. Personally, I’m fast loosing trust in PMB and this newspaper corruption drive as so many corruption cases are here and there while not a single conviction has been made for almost 15 months he came to power. Something has to be done. EFCC and lawyers are parties to the plague called corruption in Nigeria. Nobody can tell me that all the officers in EFCC are without blemish. I will round up to say that we should all know that there is an incorruptible judge watching over EFCC, NBA, JUDICIARY, EXECUTIVE and the MASSES! His judgement is coming soon.

  • ODOFIN, Lagos

    Honestly, I was worried for NBA when I heard that Gov. Kwankwaso’s former commission of justice was elected as their president. I am even more worried now hearing about his antecedence – “He was the Attorney General of the Federation’s counsel in the trial of former Delta State governor, James Ibori at the Federal High Court, Asaba, a case which EFCC lost in questionable circumstances. But the same ingredients from that case were used to fetch Ibori a 13-year jail term in London. Mahmoud is also the Commission’s counsel in the appeal against the infamous perpetual injunction from arrest and prosecution by former Rivers State governor, Peter Odili, which is still pending before the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, many years after it was filed”. I don’t like to see political SANs (any former political appointee) elected as NBA president