Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Yar'Adua seeks to protect corrupt governors
Yar'Adua seeks to protect corrupt politicians
Contrary to expectations, President Yar'Adua has commenced moves that seek to exclusively shelter corrupt governors from the law. Like in Columbia, during the days of Pablo Escobar, Yar'Adua now seeks to oust the power of the EFCC to prosecute corrupt politicians and place them under supervision of the office of the Attorney-General, who is himself a political appointee. Just like Columbian politicians sought to protect drug barons who contributed to their campaign funds, so too it would seem, Yar'Adua wants to protect governors who funded his campaign with the illicit proceeds from corrupt practices.
Yar'Adua, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Communications said “That all agencies involved in the prosecution of criminal offences such as the EFCC and ICPC should report and initiate criminal proceedings with the consent and approval of the AGF as specified in relevant sections of the constitution. That the AGF should exercise the powers conferred on him pursuant to Section 43 of the EFCC Act 2004 to make rules or regulations with respect to the exercise of any of the duties, functions or powers of the EFCC."
The Yar'Adua presidency is dubiously relying on the following provisions of the constitution which state as follows:
The Attorney-general of the Federation shall have power-
(a) to constitute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in Nigeria, other than a court-martial, in respect of any offence created by any Act of the National Assembly.
(b) to take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that may have been instituted by any other authority or person and
(c) to discontinue at nay such criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by him or any other authority or person.
(2) The powers conferred upon the Attorney-General of the Federation under sub-section (1) of this section may be exercised by him in person or through officers of his department.
(3) In exercising his powers under this section, the Attorney-General of the federation shall have regard to the public interest, interest in justice and the need to prevent the abuse of legal process.”
But, as legal luminaries have pointed out, Yar'Adua has conveniently chosen to ignore or pretend to be unaware of the ruling of the highest court in the land, the Supreme court, which held in Osahon Vs. the Federal Government of Nigeria that the Police and other investigation agencies do not require the fiat of Attorney-General to initiate criminal prosecution. Femi Falana, President of the West African Bar Association had this to say on the matter, “A regime that claims to abide by the rule of law must not disregard legal matters already settled by the Supreme Court. Instead of castrating the EFCC, the Presidency may wish to advise the Attorney-General to file nolle prosequi in respect of cases filed by EFCC against governors,”
Reacting to this development, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) said: "I think this is a tactic by the President to prevent the prosecution of some governors and this is dangerous for the anti-corruption war in Nigeria... I am saddened by this development. It cannot be accepted by Nigerians who believe in the anti-corruption war." Fawehinmi, who spoke from his hospital bed in London, said what the government has just done "is very dangerous for the political stability of the country".