The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Itse Sagay, has criticised a proposed bill for the amendment of the law establishing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
There have been reports of a new bill proposed by the Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami, that seeks the creation of a new office of the Director-General of the EFCC in replacement of the Office of the Chairman of the EFCC.
According to the reports, the director-general will be recommended by the office of the AGF and subject to the appointment by the lresident and confirmation by the Senate.
Nigerian law currently empowers the AGF to institute, continue or discontinue criminal proceedings against any person in any Nigerian court, even if such cases were filed by agencies like the EFCC.
But Mr Malami has denied reports of an attempt to pursue more powers to control the federal agency under its supervision.
Mr Malami said, “The legislative function is vested in the National Assembly and by way of further expansion, the office of the Attorney-General is by no means craving for further powers with institutions, agencies under its supervision.”
He added that his office is already saddled with enough powers to control the anti-graft agencies in the country.
In his reaction, Mr Sagay, in a statement on Wednesday, described the alleged amendment proposal as an attempt to weaken the anti-corruption infrastructure of Nigeria.
The senior lawyer, who did not mention who was responsible for the proposed bill, also accused those behind the bill of representing the corrupt establishment that has dominated the country’s reputation internationally.
He said the replacement of the Executive Chairman of the EFCC with a Director-General, who is effective to be appointed by the Attorney-General, “eliminates the EFCC’s freedom and autonomy and replaces it with an entity under the complete control of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General.
“There is an on-going very sinister and dangerous attempt to demolish the Anti-corruption infrastructure of Nigeria and return it to the situation it was in during the dark days before 2015.
“Scrapping of the commission and replacing it with a weak agency, which is going to be effectively, a department in a Federal Ministry of Justice under the Attorney General of the Federation.
“Those behind it are the representatives of the corrupt establishment that brought this country to its knees and subjected us to humiliation as a result of an extremely negative reputation internationally. It can be said without equivocation that this is the mother of corruption fighting back.
“The replacement of the Board of EFCC with Directors who are effective to be appointees of the Attorney-General. The Elimination of the position of the Secretary of the EFCC, a critical officer who serves as the institutional memory and the Administrative Head of the Agency.
Citing Section 11 of the proposed bill, Mr Sagay said, “The Annual Report of the EFCC is not to be submitted to the National Assembly until it has been passed through the Attorney-General for onward transmission to the National Assembly; thus making the Attorney-General the reporting officer of the Agency rather than the Chairman of the Director-General, as the new Bill is proposing.
The bill follows letters to President Muhammadu Buhari, by Mr Malami, whose complaint led to the suspension of Ibrahim Magu as acting EFCC chairman, and his current investigation before the presidential panel headed by Ayo Salami, a former president of the appeal court. Mr Malami accused the suspended EFCC boss of corruption and insubordination.
Mr Magu has repeatedly denied the allegations, describing them as baseless.