Law News
Osagie calls for amendment of EFCC Act

THE Minority Whip in the House of Representatives, Mr. Samson Osagie, weekend in Benin City, Edo State, said there was need to amend the Act establishing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to stop it from being used by the Presidency to witch-hunt the opposition.

This might not be unconnected to the last week’s arrest of the Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Mr. Uyi Igbe, Majority Leader, Philip Shaibu, and Chief Whip, Folly Ogedengbe, by EFCC over alleged forgery.

The lawmakers were arrested by the EFCC last week but were granted bail last Wednesday.

They were accused of allegedly forging the signature of the PDP lawmaker, Rasaq Momoh, during the impeachment of the deputy speaker, Festus Ebea.

Osagie, who also is a senatorial aspirant of All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo South senatorial district, said: “I visited them at the EFCC office on Wednesday where they were detained after honouring their invitations on Tuesday and my findings were startling. After the initial argument as to the competence of the commission to inquire into the regularity or otherwise of the impeachment in the House of Assembly, reason prevailed on the part of the commission and the three were released on bail to us. However, let me state as a long standing legislator that contrary to what some PDP aspirants want to make the world to believe with respect to the EFCC establishment Act, it could not have been the intention of the National Assembly which enacted the EFCC Act to empower the commission to inquire into the internal affairs of the legislature at any level, especially with respect to the election and removal of principal officers of the House where there are no direct financial crimes been committed. I think, at this stage, it is worth looking at to amend the EFCC Act in a manner that the Presidency or the ruling party cannot use such agencies against the opposition. Of course, we have had to amend the law setting up the commission in the past to strengthen it in order to tackle corruption cases. I believe strongly that it is also high time we had a re-evaluation of the EFCC Act in order to ensure that the commission doesn’t become an agent of oppression of people in the society. I also believe it is time that we looked at that Act again to remove any area of ambiguity which the EFCC will want to hide under and be used as a political tool by the ruling party.

“It is laughable that the commission could allow itself to be used to harass and intimidate serving lawmakers when, as a matter of fact, there are several cases in the courts seeking to resolve several issues that have been raised with respect of the crisis in the EDHA. It is fitting to situate the issue before the EFCC in proper perspective and to raise certain posers.

“First, when did it become a law that a supposed anti- corruption agency to inquire into the allegation of forgery of signature for the removal of a principal officer of a legislature when the allegation did not contain issues of possible economy and financial crime. Second, if the intent to have EFCC to investigate the allegation of forgery was to verify whether or not the complainant is the owner of the signature, why is the Nigeria Police, whose officers are only on secondment to the EFCC, not directly involved in the matter?

Third, should the EFCC not advice itself that issues of this nature are only capable of making the public perceive it as an agency of government that offer itself for  used by the ruling party to intimidate and harass opposition members. Can it be safely argued by any rule of interpretation that impeachment or removal of any principal officer under any circumstances that do not display any economic or financial crime will attract the intervention of any anti-corruption agency?”

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