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EFCC: ‘Your Actions Are Illegal’

Charity Simon, Abuja
Human rights law advocate, Ebon-Olu Adegboruwa has lampooned Chairman of the Economic and Financial crimes commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, following his position that those in the commission’s cells will not be set free until they refunded money allegedly collected traced to them.
Magu had during a tour of some media outfits in Lagos recently, stated that the commission he oversees will not set free any accused person in its gulag, irrespective of court declaration, until such persons were made to refund funds allegedly traced to them.
But lampooning the EFCC boss in a press statement in Lagos yesterday, Adegboruwa stated that Magu’s position tended towards dictatorship which is at variance with democracy.
Titled “EFCC’s Stand On Guilt Of Suspects”, the statement noted that Magu remained became outspoken on his drive after he paid a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential villa.
It wondered why the Federal government was bent on enthroning a dictatorship with total disregard for the rights of accused persons.
Adegboruwa said it was wrong for Magu to openly state that suspect in his custody will not be released on bail.
According to him, such pronouncements negate the essence of the rule of law.
The statement reads further: “On Monday, January 11, 2016, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Ibrahmi Magu, went around the press houses in Lagos, in the course of which he laid bare his strategy for the anti-corruption crusade of the present government. I must congratulate Mr. Magu on his appointment and assumption of one of the most sensitive offices in Nigeria, especially at this time of our nation’s history. He requires all the support and assistance that all Nigerians can muster, in his favour.
“However, it was totally baffling to hear and read what has been ascribed to the EFCC Chairman, especially on the fate of suspects invited to the Commission for investigation; namely that such suspects will not be released on bail and will not be charged to court, until they have refunded all the money alleged to have been laundered by them. I have waited for the EFCC Chairman to rebut this statement, but since he has not done so, it means he truly uttered them.
“The bedrock of the Rule of Law is Fair Hearing, which simply translates to the twin principles of hearing the other side and not being a judge in one’s own cause or matter. In the case of the EFCC, the implication of the Chairman’s statement is that any suspect, who has been invited in respect of any anti-corruption case, is guilty as invited. Second, it destroys the much cherished principle that is enshrined in section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution, relating to the presumption of innocence.
“The role of the EFCC under the Act setting it up, is mainly that of investigation of alleged financial crimes. It is the constitutional responsibility of the Honourable Attorneys-General of the Federation and of the States to prosecute, which duty can be delegated to the EFCC if they so desire.
“The responsibility for adjudication is that solely that of the Court, which alone has the power to pronounce on the guilt or innocence of a citizen. Third, the EFCC is not a debt collection agency, existing only for debt recovery. The due prosecution of offenders is of more value to society than debt recovery, by which people can still find their hands in the national treasury, after returning their initial loot.
“It beats one’s imagination however, to think that all suspects who now find themselves invited to the EFCC office, should just pack their detention bags and be ready to remain in custody, without bail and without due prosecution.
“Mr. Magu was appointed well over a month now, but he only commenced his familiarisation tour of Aso Rock Villa, just last week and it is not surprising that it was after such visit, that he has now come out to unveil the mind of the Buhari administration.
“I verily and truly believe that Mr. Magu means well for the Buhari administration, and Nigeria, at large, but he should withdraw this statement and apologise to the good people of Nigeria, who have all voted for democracy and good governance, through General Muhammadu Buhari.
“We cannot prosecute the anti-corruption war in an atmosphere of lawlessness and wanton disregard for the rights of the citizen. That will not be democracy, if we must tell Mr Magu, even though he has the overwhelming support of most Nigerians, in his new assignment”.

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