- Category: POLITICS
- Published on Wednesday, 02 November 2011 02:12
- Written by Mrs Farida Waziri
We have a mandate, the EFCC Establishment Act, 2004. We investigate, compile a case diary that is sent to our legal department and they advise us. We sit at a roundtable and analyse to ask if a case is sustainable in the court of law or not and when this decision is taken, we draft charges and list witnesses and register exhibits and then we arraign in the court. After the arraignment in the courts, all we do is to monitor the trial and ensure
that witnesses attend trials as often as there are adjournments and ensure that exhibits are tendered. But there is a lot of misinformation against the activities of the EFCC by disgruntled Nigerians.
In carrying out these activities at EFCC, I am not under the influence of anybody in carrying out my assignment. In order to ensure a water tight trial in court, I don’t you consult with the powers that be.
I cannot do that. The establishment is clear. I know my powers as a lawyer and as an experienced retired police officer. I know what I have to do. And I have to do the right thing, the legal thing. This is the perception being churned out by the enemies of progress. You will be shocked that Nigeria is divided into the honest and patriotic Nigerians who want the nation to move forward and the corrupt ones that can do anything to scuttle the war against corruption. They (the latter) don’t want the war against the endemic to succeed. These are the ones that are pregnant with corruption and they can’t stop it. I read some of the information by the elite and I was shocked that they tried to use semantics to misinform Nigerians even on this platform (Political Platform). There is nothing like my having to run to the presidency for advice.
The problem lies with the court system because it is slow. Some court lists are so long. There are cases bothering on murder, manslaughter, arson, rape and all other manner of cases they are trying, including the EFCC and the adjournments are there.
There are sceptics and some of these people are being used to spread lies by the enemies of progress of this country. Because once we arraign, the defence counsel would be asking for bail, which is a fundamental human rights of the alleged suspect. It is a bailable offence because it is neither murder, nor treason. He asks for bail for his client and the judge grants him. What do we do? Don’t forget that in this part of the world, suspects approach the courts for all manner of documents to exercise his fundamental human right. They go to court for travel documents and medical excuses and such could be granted. Another thing that saddens me is that the members of our noble profession have thrown the ethics to the wind for money.
The defence counsel; some of them that have been exposed to pecks of the political persons might come up with all sorts of interlocutory injunctions. I want to say that some of these cases end the same way-such include challenge of the jurisdiction of a court, even though they know a lawyer should be prosecuting for the EFCC. That it has no right to try them, they jump to the Court of Appeal to ask for stay of proceedings and the Establishment Act is clear about this; there is no where we cannot prosecute. It is clear in part two of the Act.
I think there are more corrupt people (Nigerians) than the good ones. They know that with a special court, they would get their hands burnt. They know that with a special court with a time frame work of six months to one year that a case might be disposed off. A look at Chapter 19 of the Establishment Act states that a court or judge to try these cases shall give such matters priority over other matters pending before it.
Unfortunately,I don’t have powers to determine the speed at which a judge should attend to a case after your arraignment...
I don’t. All these issues of interlocutory injunctions, Section 40 of the Establishment Act says: ‘Subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, an application for stay of proceeding in respect of any criminal matter brought by the commission before the High Court shall not be entertained until judgment is delivered by the High Court.
We don’t have enough staff strength to take care of the trials going on all over Nigeria. We are short-staffed. We lack funds. We have brought in external solicitors based on advice because we have young lawyers who go into the courts and the other man has about five SANS trying his case and in court; priority is given to the silk. So, this younger lawyer is shouted down and he has to respect the judge and the silk. His case is heard last. Consequently, I was advised to get SANs as external solicitors.
Nigeria is not sincere. Corruption is not a one agency fight; not one person’s fight. It is the whole of Nigerians that would get up one day and say enough is enough. That was why we launched anti-corruption revolution. It is not a revolution to topple government, but a silent revolution. It happened in Singapore which was such a corrupt country. Today, they are the best; we go there for training. But in Nigeria, we need to re-orientate Nigerians who feel that without money they are lost. I wonder if Nigerians feel that if they accumulate wealth, they will never die, will never be ill, nor witness a disaster.
I could speak of late President Umar Yar’Adua as Nigerians ready to fight corruption; I worked with him and President Goodluck Jonathan who I am working with now. From what I have seen of them, they are very committed.
Any president who wants to succeed in Nigeria must fight the scourge. And everybody anywhere you go outside the country is always talking of our problem-which is endemic corruption and they all zero in on if you curb corruption, you would move forward. If you curb corruption, you would have light and other things and and even create jobs for the teeming jobless Nigerians.
Nigerians are not ready to fight corruption. Some of the elite are the cause of the problems in this country. I think they don’t want it because they make their living from corruption-fast living. They are the ones who jet out of the country to buy property abroad. They have massive houses in America, London and Dubai. I went to see some houses in South Africa owned by Nigerians.
There is no justification for all this. The houses are locked up. If you ask me, to stay in such a house built like a church cathedral and their neighbours behind them cannot afford to drink gaari, not to talk of three square meals.
On there internal corruption in EFCC,
I have been there. This is not a new thing to me; I have been on this job since I was 17 years old. It has become part of me and I have put all mechanisms in place to check internal corruption. For instance, we have a good case on the internet; all the cases and petitions are registered there. But before then, there were people who would pick on petition and go somewhere else. I have arrested up to three EFCC officials and I charged them to court because we have to lead by example, I have put these checks and balances in place and we also have intelligence unit to check our men and if they know that you are a bit on the other side, we would get rid of your services.
There is this case, I call the suspect XYZ; he was arrested and arraigned in 2006. He took plea and was granted bail on 25 January, 2007 and the case was set for hearing. Before this date, he went to file an exparte motion without notice of the EFCC and the judge at the Court of Appeal ruled that the suspect erred in law by not putting us on notice. He went to the Supreme Court where the case was for two years and the case was decided later on in 2009. The Supreme Court dismissed his case and that he should go back for trial and instead of coming back to trial, he again challenged the jurisdiction of the court and asked for stay of prosecution.
Many Nigerians believe in this thing called ‘Part One of the movies of the EFCC’ - seeing the governors get arrested, stay briefly for two days in detention and then the rest is story, but what I have to do now is to brief Nigerians on what is going on. And Nigerians have a say that they can move and mobilise. They shouldn’t mobilise against me; I am fighting corruption with my body, soul and heart for my country. They are attacking me and attacking EFCC. They know where the problem is and if they really love their country and really want us to move Nigeria forward and progress like any other sane country, Nigerians should stop being hypocritical.
Nigerians know that I can’t judge; I can’t sentence anyone. It is the work of the judiciary. That is why they should give me a special court, give me assent for future law so that if we can’t jail anyone, we can confiscate the process of fraud by using this as a civil action as other countries have it. The issue of the Auditor-General is another misinformation; at the end of every year we submit our reports. What we have now is an acknowledgment in the Senate, House of Representatives. I believe something is fundamentally wrong with the Auditor-General’s office records. We need to even go there and assist them to see what is happening because if they do a good job, they can even help government and EFCC to fight corruption. If they could turn around to do what they did, I was shocked and disappointed.
Chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs Farida Waziri - while a guest on Ray Power FM Radio programme, Political Platform