FG Moves To Weaken Position Of EFCC Chairman, Creates Office Of Director-General

Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission

The Federal Government is initiating a new bill that seeks to weaken the position of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by creating a new position known as the Director-General of the commission.

The bill, which was obtained by the Punch, is titled, ‘An Act to Repeal the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 (act no. 1 of 2004) and Enact the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act Which Establishes a More Effective and Efficient Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to Conduct Enquiries and Investigate All Economic and Financial Crimes and Related Offences and for other Related Matters.’

It was learnt that the The Federal Government through the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami is putting together the bill to be sent to the National Assembly.

Malami and the suspended Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu have been at loggerheads following accusations labelled against Magu who in turn, accused Malami of frustrating the anti-corruption war of the Buhari-led federal government.

The proposed law shows that the President will have the power to appoint a director-general of the commission who will be in charge of the day-to-day affairs of the commission, and whose tenure shall be for a minimum of 4 years and maximum of 8.

Other responsibilities of the director-general include the implementation of the commission’s functions, the direction, supervision and control of the employees of the commission; the maintenance of transparent accounting records in accordance with applicable laws governing statutory bodies; and ensuring that the commission is guided by the laws of Nigeria and international best practices.

“There shall be for the commission, a director-general who shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Attorney General subject to the confirmation by the Senate.

“Subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of this section, the Director-General shall be a retired or serving member of any government institution, including any security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of a director or its equivalent or a person from the private sector.

“A person shall not be appointed as a director-general unless he is of proven integrity and has 15 years cognate experience in security, forensic or financial crimes investigation; forensic accounting or auditing; or law practice or enforcement relating to economic and financial crimes or anti-corruption,” section 8 of the bill read in part.

According to the bill, the Chairman of EFCC shall be the head of the commissions board.

To form the board apart from the Chairman are the Director-General, a Director of Administration who shall be the secretary of the board, a representative of the Federal Ministry of Justice, a representative of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Director of Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, two other Nigerians with 15 years cognate experience in legal, finance, banking or forensic auditing.

According to the proposed law, the President on the recommendation of the Attorney General of the federation and subject to confirmation by the Senate shall appoint the management board as well as the chairman to serve for a period of four years or a maximum of eight years.

The board will be in charge of reviewing and approving the strategic plans of the commission, establishing policy guidelines for the commission; overseeing the due performance of the functions of the commission in accordance with the provisions of this Act; and do such other things which in its opinion are necessary to ensure the efficient and effective performance of the functions of the Commission under this Act.

However, it was observed that the Secretary of the EFCC, which is a creation of Section 8 of the existing EFCC Act is not mentioned in the new bill, indicating that the position has been scrapped.

With the new proposed law, the power of the AGF to discontinue the prosecution of criminal cases as guaranteed in Section 174 of the 1999 constitution has been restated and it empowers the AGF to cancel the prosecutorial power of the EFCC when he sees fit.

According to Section 45 of the new bill, the AGF may, after notifying the EFCC, intervene in court proceedings, at first instance or on appeal, where, in the opinion of the AGF, public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process so demand.

“On receipt of the notice under subsection (2) of this section, the commission shall hand over to the Attorney-General the prosecution file and all documents relating to the prosecution and provide him with such other information as he may require on the matter within the time specified by him.

“The commission shall furnish returns of all cases handled by it annually and in such manner and at such intervals as the Attorney-General shall direct.

“Where the commission fails to comply with the provisions of this section, the Attorney General may, subject to prevailing circumstances, revoke the power to prosecute from the commission,” it read.

A statement earlier signed by the AGF’s Spokesman, Umar Gwandu on August 25, 2020, revealed that the constitution already gave the AGF enormous powers to supervise the EFCC and other agencies regardless of the EFCC Act.

The statement titled, “I don’t need more powers to supervise agencies’, read in part, “The Attorney General of the Federation does not need the tinkering of the current EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004 to enable him to regulate the institution and could, therefore not, in any way, seek to sponsor any bill for more powers to control the commission.

“It is trite to say that by virtue of the extant laws of the land as well as rules and legislation governing the conduct of the governmental operations, the Attorney General of the Federation has indisputable statutory powers to regulate the operations of the commissions without recourse to any additional legislation.

“Section 43 of the EFCC Act has made it abundantly clear that ‘the Attorney General of the Federation may make rules or regulations with respect to the exercise of any of the duties, functions or powers of the Commission under this Act.”

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