Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, yesterday, said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should not have existed, insisting the anti-graft agency currently operates outside the Constitution.
Agbakoba described the Constitution as erroneous, saying whoever wrote it, did so for the country to fail. He said he now understood why Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, led by Pa Ayo Adebanjo, is always advocating change of the Constitution.
Agbakoba noted that since the EFCC is a creation of the National Assembly, it does not have powers to interfere with activities of state governments.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who disclosed this at a press conference in Lagos, insisted the 1999 Constitution only provides one police force for Nigeria. He said, since the anti-graft body is not a branch of the police, it could not perform its functions.
He said: “The question would be, if the EFCC is created by the Federal Government, can it then prosecute state offences? The Supreme Court, in many of its decisions, has held that federalism means two autonomous and independent governments. And if that is correct, EFCC does not have the right to go to the states and examine their accounts.
“Anybody can read Section 46 of the EFCC Act and Section 36(12) of the 1999 Constitution. Section 36(12) states that all offences must be defined. And when you now read Section 46, you ask yourself if it complies with Section 36(12) because it does not.
“So, part of the prayers I would seek in court is that EFCC ought not to exist in the first place because it is not a branch of the police, and that the job done by the EFCC is the same being done by the Police Special Fraud Unit.
“My other prayer would be whether the National Assembly can make laws for the federation, and to what extent can the National Assembly, which is an arm of the Federal Government, make laws authorising a federal agency to exercise powers as if it were a state agency.
“All these contradictions should make the presidential candidates tell Nigerians what they are going to do about the Constitution because it is defective.”
The human rights lawyer, however, said that he was not fighting the Commission, describing himself as one of the greatest supporters of the rule of law and the fight against corruption. He noted that the real issue is failure of security agencies to obey the rule of law.
Agbakoba added that as a demonstration of his goodwill towards the anti-graft agency, he was ready to engage the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, in a dialogue session on the issue.