Ex-NBA Publicity Secretary tasks new EFCC boss on adherence to rule of law

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Lagos.

A former Publicity Secretary of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Douglas Ogbankwa, has urged the new Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ola Olukoyede, to ensure preservation of human rights.

Ogbankwa gave the advice in a statement made available to newsmen on Sunday in Lagos.

While stating that the appointment of Olukoyede as EFCC chairman was well-deserved, he, however, stressed the need for him to ensure that the rule of law prevailed under his watch.

Ogbankwa thanked President Bola Tinubu for selecting a legal practitioner as chairman of the anti-graft agency, adding that Olukoyede must seek to correct past errors.

“The appointment of the new Chairman of EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, is a welcome development, as he appears to be the first “outside-insider” to head the agency, being a lawyer who was Chief of Staff to the former chairman, and later Secretary to the commission.

“The agency, as we have known in time past, had a poor track record of respect for human rights, which unfortunately, has been condoned by some courts.

“The EFCC must desist from investigating matters of contract, since it is not a debt collector, which has been stated in a plethora of cases by superior courts of records.

“It is important for the commission, under the new leadership, to ensure adherence to due process of law in all its activities, being a creation of the law.

“The EFCC Act provides for an interim forfeiture of properties, using ex parte orders. Therefore, any car seized without a court order must be released forthwith.

“To this end, EFCC should stop the practice of seizing cars of citizens without an order of the court.

“The commission should also stop the practice of writing with red paint “EFCC, Keep off” on properties of citizens, except a court order has been obtained,” he said.

Ogbankwa also underscored the need for tracking devices for the agency to monitor all seized items.

“There should be in place an electronic tracking system to track all seized properties, followed by a public auction sale after due process, with the bid open to public participation,” he said.

According to Ogbankwa, the agency should note that lawyers are partners in progress, and not enemies, as their functions are interwoven.

“It is important they accord lawyers the requisite co-operation since EFCC cannot prosecute cases without lawyers.

“So, it is high time there was synergy between EFCC and lawyers to avoid needless litigations and allow for seamless operations of the anti-graft agency,” he said.

President Bola Tinubu had, on Oct. 13, announced the appointment of Olukoyede as EFCC chairman for a renewable term of four years.

Olukoyede’s appointment came four months after the suspension of the erstwhile chairman of the commission, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa.

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