The atmosphere at the Abuja headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was said to have been palpably tense on Wednesday following receipt of a letter from the attorney-general and minister of justice, Mr Abubakar Malami SAN.
In the letter dated August 1, the AGF directed the EFCC under the leadership of its acting chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu to comply with the provisions of the EFCC 2010 Regulations that provide for the submission of a list of serious cases being handled by the agency, to the AGF.
A portion of the letter signed by Abiodun Aikomo, a lawyer in the AGF’s office read:
“I am directed to refer specifically to Section 10 (1) which mandates the Commission to forward to the Attorney- General, in respect of a case of complaint which is serious or complex within the context of the Regulation, the outcome of its investigation(s) with its recommendations on whether there are sufficient grounds to initiate prosecution.
“The Honourable Attorney-General observes that the Commission has been in breach of the above cited provision of the Regulation for some time, hence this reminder to the Commission to ensure compliance going forward.”
Top officials of the EFCC were said to have however become worried that the directive was a veiled attempt to whittle down the power of the Magu-led EFCC as the AGF could determine what cases to proceed with or discontinue after receiving the report.
The EFCC officials noted that a similar request had earlier been made by the National Prosecution Coordination Committee (NPCC) under the supervision of the AGF. The first request was turned down by the EFCC and may have prompted the direct approach by the AGF relying on the 2010 Regulations.
In reaction, spokesman for the AGF, Isah Salisu said the directive was not an attempt to take over the cases but rather part of efforts to ensure synergy between anti-graft agencies and guarantee efficiency.
“The letter did not say they should hand over the cases to us. The committee wants to know the status of the cases so that they will know what to do to assist,” Isah said.
According to The Nation, the AGF’s spokesman also stressed that the AGF and the NPCC were looking to ensure that the EFCC implements the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.