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PRESIDENCY PROBES EFFC OVER ARREST OF EX-GOVERNORS.
By PAUL ODENYI, Abuja
The personality clash between the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri is heading for the worse as both play their respective roles in the prosecution of the government’s anti corruption campaign.
While the AGF believes in the rule of law in the prosecution of an offender, EFCC allegedly pushes for the aggressive hunt and mob trial approach which was the hallmark of the Nuhu Ribadu years. And that is why the Presidency is studying the processes that led to the arrest of four former governors last week while some other former chief executives of some states were left as untouchables.
A presidency source said yesterday that President Goodluck Jonathan has had words with both the AGF and Waziri on the development and was shown startling evidence which suggests that the EFCC has for sometime been ignoring the Ministry of Justice in its prosecutorial processes.
According to the source, the AGF continues to explain to the President on the importance of rule of law, especially when he was called to explain how the planned arrest of the former governors leaked.
“Indeed, the plan was to arrest many of them in one fell swoop, but as soon as the plan leaked, the plan was aborted. And it was only at that time that the Commission sought for permission to prosecute some of them including the former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili.
The letter from the EFCC seeking to prosecute Odili was dated October 6, 2011, the same day the commission’s operatives took in the former Governors of Ogun state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; Oyo, Otunba Christopher Alao- Akala and Nassarawa’s Aliyu Akwe Doma.
“Those are some of the evidences which were tendered before the President during the briefing” said the source.
Another point of disagreement between the Minister Adoke and the Chairman of the EFCC is the use of private lawyers for prosecution of cases. While the Minister believes that such option can be used, he also thinks it should only apply where state prosecutors (many of who idle away at the ministry) show lack of experience. Officials of the ministry cite the brave and swift handling of petitions by state prosecutors during the hearings of the Oputa panels.
The Presidency according to the source may adopt a process of relationship between the two offices which will of necessity involve them.
Under the new EFCC law, the commission is expected to seek the fiat of the AGF to prosecute individuals caught under the Act. This was an improvement on the first Act setting up the commission which gave them wide powers to pick up people and prosecute them.
‘’Instead of seeking the conclusion of such cases, it is busy looking for opportunity to embarrass the government by going for arrests,’’ the source said.