EFCC And The Arraignment Of NASS Leaders: The Facts And The Farce (2)
It is already understood that the fundamental role of the National Assembly is that of law making and oversight.
The executive branch of government in carrying out its tasks, whether by implementing legislation or policies, acquires considerable power and influence.
A condition of the exercise of that power in a constitutional democracy is that the administration or executive is checked by being held accountable to an organ of government distinct from it. This notion is inherent in the concept of the separation of powers, which simultaneously provides for checks and balances on the exercise of executive power, making the executive more accountable to an elected legislature. In Nigeria the National Assembly carries out this oversight responsibility in a combination of more than one means including public hearings. One of those public hearings was the one initiated by the Capital Market committee of the House of Representatives headed by the duo of Hembe and Azubogu, to investigate the running of the capital market.
Now because of our long history of military dictatorship whose executive powers are not subjected to necessary checks, any attempt at regular oversight is still very sensitive and could easily heat up the arena. Giving in to these sensibilities sometimes cripple the oversight responsibilities of the National Assembly.
The arraignment of the leaders of the National Assembly over the alleged conversion of some unsolicited allowance surreptitiously smuggled to reach them in the most opaque manner by an executive arm agency smack of muzzling the legislature by the executive. Justice must not only be done it must be seen to be done.
Public Service Police On Unutilised Travel Allowance
In any case the position in Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; Security and Exchange Commission, SEC; the National Assembly and most other public service organisations is that where a public official collects travel allowance and the travel is for any reason not undertaken, the responsible agency would write to the public official requesting reasons for the failure to undertake the trip and also ask for a refund of the allowance.
Why is this matter being made a criminal case when the preliminary administrative procedures have not been initiated? How much of taxpayers’ money are we expending to prosecute a case of fraudulent conversion of travel allowance that was released when the relevant travel was supposed to have ended. The SEC officials who authorised this release must be held accountable.
Why The EFCC Must Drop This Case
On the way to assuming office as the chairman of the commission Mr. Ibrahim Larmode told the Senate of the National Assembly during his confirmation hearing that there is corruption within the EFCC and vowed to do away with this corruption and the personnel involved in it.
The public hearing on the capital market involved mainly the activities of banks and other financial institutions whose shares Nigerians gobbled up during the consolidation of banks by Professor Chukwuma Soludo. All these banks were forced to raise additional capital through the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE (which Nigerians ought to know is a private company whose monies belong to its owners and does not receive appropriation from the Nigerian budget). Now shortly after Nigerians bought up bank shares offered on the floor of the NSE, the banks themselves through improper practices, loose regulations by the CBN and SEC mismanaged their funds and the CBN intervened to take over some of them.
Now this capital market probe involves the following agencies:
• The Central Bank of Nigeria
• The Securities and Exchange Commission
• The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation
Unknown to many Nigerians, these three agencies, which may or have in one way or the other been named or challenged in the capital market probe are all board members of the EFCC.
Now the question is: is it fair for the EFCC to be allowed to investigate its board members or be allowed to investigate and prosecute persons who are probing the activities of its members or who have some disagreement with its board members?
The ethical thing to do is for the EFCC to hand this case over to the police to handle since it seems as if the EFCC is actually involved in this matter.
The best way to ensure that corruption is expunged by the EFCC as promised by Mr. Larmorde, is to resist the urge to be seen as selective or biased. This surely would be the effect of haranguing National Assembly leaders in an environment like ours where rumours could easily take wings. Of course the EFCC has the right to disregard my advice and keep on with its prosecution of cases or petitions brought by its directors or commissioners but in the long run its independence and impartiality would be questioned.
The question is not what we have the right to do- but is it the right thing to do?
Let us do the right thing in this matter.
Sir Chukwu Jideani
08051789348 (SMS Only)