Friday, March 16, 2007

EFFC gets Senate's Backing

The Senate has made laws governing the removal of a serving EFCC official. I believe this will help in safeguarding the life and activities of the agency so that when a new administration enters office it'd be forced to toe constitutional lines.

The following piece I got from The Guardian.

Senate curbs President's power to remove EFCC boss, others
From Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Abuja
From The Guardian 16 March, 2007

DRASTIC changes have been effected in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act by the Senate, which yesterday concluded the debate on the bill to amend the law.

One of the profound amendments to the Act was the removal of the powers of the President to sack the EFCC chairman or any member of the commission without the consent of the Senate.

Section 3(2) of the new bill stipulates that "the chairman or any member of the commission, may only be removed by the President acting on the address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate for inability to discharge the functions of the office or for misconduct."

The Upper House also amended section 43 of the Act, which prescribed that "the Attorney-General of the Federation may make rules or regulations with respect to the exercise to any of the duties, functions or powers of the EFCC." The amendment now reads: "Without prejudice to the provision of section 174 of the Constitution in the exercise of its functions, the commission shall not be subjected to direction or control of any authority or persons".

The amendment may equally be cheery news to persons that will be found guilty of terrorist acts as section 15 of the original Act was reviewed to reduce the punishment of terrorist acts from life imprisonment to seven years jail term.

Section 6(d) was also amended by the Senate to ensure that henceforth, the EFCC would not confiscate people's property without an order of the law courts to that effect.

But efforts by some Senators to persuade the Upper House to weaken the EFCC by subjecting its decision to freeze the accounts of an individual or group to court orders did not succeed as the Senate President, Ken Nnamani, stated that there was nothing wrong in asking the EFCC to secure court orders before confiscating or seizing people's property or freezing their accounts.

The Senate also rejected an amendment proposed by Senator Umar Dahiru that only non-serving police officers should be appointed chairman of the EFCC.

It generated serious argument, as most Senators believed that the suggestion if accepted could lead to the removal of the incumbent EFCC boss, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, whom they described as a performer.

The Deputy Senate President Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, argued that there was no way retired officers could fight corruption with equal vigour as Ribadu, adding that there was no need to change an official who was doing well.

The move by the Senate to whittle the power of the President on the EFCC has been a subject of dispute between Nnamani and Secretary to the Federal Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette.

Only on Wednesday, Nnamani responded to an earlier letter to Ekaette, where the government protested the move to curb the President's power over the EFCC.

Nnamani maintained his position that the EFCC and similar state agencies should be removed from the direct control of the President.

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