Friday, 4 August 2017

The 'conflict' between EFCC's Magu and AGF Malami over ‘high profile' cases takes another turn


The office of the Attorney-General of the federation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are currently in disagreement over handling of 'high profile' cases.

The acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu was on Tuesday served a letter from the office of the AGF seeking compliance with the regulation on the prosecution of “serious” cases, usually understood to mean high-profile investigations.

Specifically, the Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, is accusing Magu of breaching section 10(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Enforcement) Regulations 2010.

The regulation mandates the EFCC to forward the outcome of investigations along with its recommendations to the AGF in cases or complaints that are “serious or complex”.

A case is considered “serious or complex” if it has significant international dimension, involves money or assets of a value exceeding N50 million or requires specialised knowledge of financial, commercial, fiscal or regulatory matters such as the operations of the markets, banking systems, trusts or tax regimes.

It is also considered serious if it involves allegations of fraudulent activities against numerous victims, involves a significant loss of money by a ministry or department or public body, is likely to be of widespread public concern or involves an alleged misconduct which amounts to economic sabotage.

After the EFCC must have conducted the investigations, it is then left to the office of the AGF to decide whether or not there are sufficient grounds to initiate prosecution, according to the regulation.

Sources at Malami’s office said he is trying to reassert his position “having been persistently sidelined by the anti-graft agencies under his supervision.”

In a statement issued on Thursday, Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC spokesman, responded to the reported letter from AGF.

“The attention of the EFCC has been drawn to the near-daily reportage of either the existence of a face-off or an impending and damaging conflict between the commission and the office of the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN),” the statement read.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, wishes to categorically state that it is compliant with all provisions of law and has no intention to stoke a misunderstanding over requests from the office of the attorney-general and minister of justice.

“Furthermore, the commission’s mandate, operational philosophy and the conduct and pronouncements of its officials do not countenance any activity on the fringes of the law. It is therefore untenable for there to be any suggestion that the EFCC or the commission’s principal officials are either in conflict with or readying for a ‘showdown’ with the AGF or other officials of government.

“All the brouhaha raised in recent days over a nonexistent conflict between the EFCC and the office of the AGF only go to underline the fact that corruption can and is fighting back in a variety of ways.”

However, The special assistant to the president on prosecutions, Okoi Obono-Obla has advised Magu to act on the letter written to him by Malami.

In an interview with PUNCH, Obono-Obla warned that Magu’s refusal to obey the AGF’s order will bring about consequences for “indiscipline and insubordination”.

He said the office of the AGF requested the case files to enable it carry out its oversight functions.

“A letter dated August 1, 2017, was written to the EFCC, urging the commission to comply with the EFCC Enforcement Regulation that was made in 2010. The regulation requires that in any case above N50m, the EFCC must carry along the office of the AGF from investigation to prosecution,” he said.

“The letter was about the case files because if the cases are not well prepared, the office of the AGF will be blamed for it. So, the office wants to carry out its oversight function.

“The EFCC cannot be more patriotic than the office of the AGF. Why is it that the EFCC is not cooperating when we are working for the same government?

“If the EFCC refuses to act on the letter, there will be consequences on acts of indiscipline and insubordination.

“There is no personality clash between the two heads. It is wrong to say that there is a clash. The EFCC is an institution and the office of the AGF is another institution. What we need is compliance. We should not personalize our institutions.”

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