Epunchng - Most read newspaper in Nigeria Wednesday November 15 2017 - Page 7

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2017 news 7 AGF writes to Reps, seeks review of EFCC Act John Ameh, Abuja T he Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, on Tuesday, sought a comprehensive review of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act to remove many lacuna in the law and strengthen the anti-graft war. Malami said a total repeal and re-enactment of the Act was what the country needed as against the piecemeal amendments proposed to it by the House of Representatives. The AGF gave his position as the House Committee on Financial Crimes lined up two major bills for public hearing at the National Assembly in Abuja. The committee, which is chaired by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Ogun State, Mr. Kayode Oladele, presented “A Bill to Amend the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment) Act” and “A Bill to Amend the Money Laundering (Prohibition and Prevention) Act” for public hearing. The EFCC bill had three other sub-sets, including a bill proposing to grant full autonomy to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, currently domiciled under the EFCC. But, the AGF, who was represented by an official of his office, Mr. Anthony Abba, told the committee that there were many amendments proposed to the EFCC Act. Malami argued that the best approach was a comprehensive review of the Act by repealing the present law in order to come up with a harmonised bill that would address all the issues. He suggested that a sub- committee comprising lawmakers, the EFCC, his office and other stakeholders should be set up to do a thorough review of the Act. Abba stated, “Our position is that these amendments are so many. We are seeking a comprehensive review and a repeal. “Let there be a sub- committee to sit and look at all the issues and we can have a comprehensive bill.” The EFCC said it was in support of the AGF’s proposal for a harmonised, comprehensive bill. However, the Secretary of the commission, Mr. Emmanuel Adegboyega, who represented the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, made a case for adequate funding of the anti-graft agency. He noted that some of the amendments proposed adequate funding of the EFCC, which Adegboyega said was important if the agency must deliver on its core mandate. • L-R: Secretary General, D8 Countries, Dr. Seyed Ali Mohammed; Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Minister of State for Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar; Minister of State for Power, Suleiman Hassan; and Bangladesh Minister of Industries, Amir Hossain, during the 6th D8 ministerial meeting on Industrial Cooperation in Abuja...on Tuesday. Photo: NAN My life is in danger, says Obiano Tony Okafor, Awka T he Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, on Tuesday, said he was no longer comforta ble standing for the November 18 governorship poll in the state. He said his life was in danger as far as the poll was concerned, stressing that his security details had been withdrawn. The governor said the withdrawal was ominous as it had exposed his life to eminent threat. Obiano stated this in Awka during an election stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission. He described the act as unacceptable and dangerous. He demanded the return of his security details in order not to constitute further threats capable of overheating the polity, adding that he would fight back if nothing is done about it. Obiano said, “I want my security details returned immediately because I am going to start a fight from there. I am the governor of Anambra State and all the paraphernalia of my office must be there. “This is unacceptable and a sign of what will happen. Those behind this would be disappointed because we are very ready for this election.” According to the governor, he had wanted to speak with the Inspector General of Police who was scheduled to be on the occasion, but said he had to voice it out at the event since he was not aware when the IGP would come. Ndume resumes today as legal battle continues Leke Baiyewu, Abuja T he Senate on Tuesday unanimously resolved to allow Senator Ali Ndume (Borno-South) to resume on Wednesday (today) from his six-month suspension by the chamber. The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary on Tuesday, made the announcement after an executive (closed-door) session held by the lawmakers. Ekweremadu said the lawmakers resolved at the closed-door session that the former Majority Leader be allowed to resume “without prejudice to the case pending in court.” The Senate had on Monday appealed against a Federal High Court judgment on Friday, which nullified the suspension of the Borno-South senator. The upper chamber of the The secretary stated, “We need a fraction of the money we recover to take care of our operations. If we can have five per cent of the N738.9bn that the EFCC has recovered for about two years, our work will definitely speed up. National Assembly, which stated through its lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), in a statement on Sunday, disclosed that it would also apply for stay of execution at the Court of Appeal. The Senate had on March 29, 2017, suspended Ndume for six months for not “conducting due diligence” before filing a petition against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; and the lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye. The FHC, however, voided the suspension in the judgment delivered on the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/551/2017, which Ndume filed to challenge his suspension for 90 legislative days. Ndume had on Friday said he would not be surprised but disappointed if the Senate appealed against the judgment. Ndume was suspended “for bringing Senator Dino Melaye, his colleague, and the institution of the Senate to unbearable disrepute.” The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions made the recommendation in its report, which was adopted by the lawmakers. The panel had recommended that the lawmaker be suspended for one year but some senators pleaded that the punishment be reduced to six months, which was unanimously approved. Ndume had on March 21, 2017, urged the Senate to investigate the allegation that an armoured Range Rover car reportedly worth N298m, but which the chamber later said cost $298,000, seized by Nigeria Customs Service and belonged to the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki. The lawmaker also called on the upper chamber of the National Assembly to investigate the certificate scandal involving Melaye. He recalled that previous certificate scandals involving members of the National Assembly were probed by the lawmakers. An online news portal, Sahara Reporters, which made the allegation in a report published on March 18, 2017, said the seizure of the Sports Utility Vehicle, allegedly belonging to Saraki, was the reason why the Senate was moving against the Controller General of the NCS, Col. Hammed Ali (retd.). The medium reported that the car was intercepted and impounded on January 11, 2017, by the service for allegedly having fake documents. Sahara Reporters had also in another report alleged that Melaye did not graduate from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State, but was parading a fake certificate. The governor had earlier complained of having not been accorded recognition by the moderator of the function when he walked in, despite several attempts to make a comment. But reacting, the National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the event was a stakeholders’ meeting, and as such no candidate would be accorded any special treatment regardless of his position. He said the commission insisted on equal treatment of all candidates in the election and should not only have equal standing, but must be respected. Speaking later, the Inspector General of Police, Idris Mohammed, said the police decided to withdraw the policemen attached to politicians because of previous experiences where such cops worked for their “ master.” He said movement would be restricted on the election day, assuring the people that the state would be adequately policed. He said the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Garba Umar, had been asked to step down for neutrality while he would be replaced with another who had no affinity with the state. “We are bringing entirely new faces to conduct this election. We need your cooperation; we need your support. We are going to conduct ‘stop and search;” we are going to raid some black sports,” the IGP said. “For example, our proposed headquarters project, we are still unable to complete it because of funding challenges.” But, the Nigerian Law Reform Commission opposed the idea of giving some percentage of recovered loot to the EFCC. Its representative, Prof. Jummai Awudi, argued that it would be “legally and morally wrong” for the commission to keep part of recovered money to itself . The commission told lawmakers that the present arrangement of funding the EFCC by budgetary appropriation was in order and should be maintained. The law commission also said the NFIU should be granted full autonomy and allowed to operate independent of the EFCC. Earlier, Oladele had said that the House moved to amend the EFCC Act because lawmakers were in support of the anti- graft war of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. He stated, “Let me on behalf of the committee express our total support for the measures that are being taken by the Buhari administration to tackle corruption head-on. “To this effect, the least we can pledge as the representatives of the marginalised citizens of this country is the total support of this committee to the EFCC and other law enforcement agencies involved in the fight against corruption.” Oladele informed the session that there were other bills besides that of the EFCC, pending before the House, which he said would soon be passed. They include the “Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters Bill”; “Proceeds of Crimes Bill”; “Nigerian Financial Intelligence Bill”; “Whistle Blowers’ Protection Bill”; and “Assets Management System Bill.” Meanwhile, the Nigerian Governors Forum called for urgent resolution of the dispute that led to the suspension of the NFIU from the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. The NFIU had been suspended in July this year after the global body frowned at reported interferences in its operations by Nigerian officials. Speaking at the hearing on the EFCC bill, the Director- General of the NGF, Mr. Ashishama Okauru, recalled that following the suspension, Nigeria was given up to January 2018 to resolve the issues raised by Egmont. He noted that the key issue was the autonomy of the NFIU, which Okauru said could still be domiciled in the EFCC, but should be allowed to function independently. The NGF DG added, “Time is really not on our side. There are many other consequences if Nigeria eventually loses its membership. “We have till January to take the necessary actions, especially on the bills.”