The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, said on Tuesday that the to fight against economic crimes is not the exclusive preserve of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
At a House of Representatives hearing on the raids of judges’ home Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Malami said the State Security Service, being one of several law enforcement agencies in the country, had the backing of the law to crackdown on sharp practices in public service.
“There is no provision in the Economic and Financial Crimes Act that gave exclusivity to the EFCC as far as crimes are involved,” Mr. Malami told the committee chaired by Garba Datti, a lawmaker from Kaduna State.
Mr. Malami’s appearance quelled a showdown that lawmakers promised would ensue if he failed to honour the committee’s invitation today.
After Mr. Malami was absent for two consecutive days last week, lawmakers threatened to issue a warrant for his arrest.
For the most part of the session Tuesday, the nation’s top law officer sparred with lawmakers about the legality of the SSS’ raids of senior judicial officers’ homes last month.
Even though legal scholars remain divided about the legality of the unprecedented action by the SSS, Mr. Malami stated in no uncertain terms that the constitutionality of the clampdown was not up for debates.
Mr. Malami said the functions of the EFCC, SSS, the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency, the police and other security agencies are interspersed as far as criminal cases are concerned.
“In most cases, these offenses cut across jurisdictions and many of them could have elements of economic crimes or even elements of terrorism,” Mr. Malami said. “Some have elements of narcotics and other associated crimes in them.”
“Therefore, there is no exclusivity as far as the powers of investigation are concerned,” Mr. Malami said.
The AGF said Nigeria’s criminal laws enabled all law enforcement agencies to collaborate on most cases, a provision he described as “good, fine and okay.”
In a nationwide sweep on October 7, the SSS raided the homes of judges, including two judges on the Supreme Court.
Critics raised questions about the legality of the raids as well as the dangers of allowing a department that was hitherto known for keeping strictly internal intelligence orders.
Mr. Malami immediately justified the actions of the secret police, a position he has maintained.