Vanguard (Lagos)

6 November 2006

Nigeria: Violation of Rule of Law - EFCC Dares NBA

Abuja — The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has challenged the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) to come up with any single investigation or arrest made by the commission without following the rule of law and due process.

The Chairman of the Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu who dared the lawyers over the weekend in Abuja at the NBA/EFCC joint workshop on the EFCC Act and Other Related Instrumentswith the theme : The Role of Law of lawyers said NBA should provide evidence that the commission violates the rule of law while carrying its activities.

Also the NBA has agree to work hand in hand with EFCC in its fight against corruption, saying it is the duty of lawyers to protect the constitutions of the country, the rule of law and not an individual.

According to Ribadu, "there is no single investigation we have carried out without following the rule of law and due process. I challenge all of you to come up with any evidence indicating the EFCC is disobeying the rule of law in discharging its duty. I will defend every bit of it. "If any you here is with evidence let him or her come forward with. This is because this forum is meant to strengthen out some contending issues on the activities of the commission and the role of layers".

Ribadu also said that the list of lawyers currently under the investigation list of the commission will soon be out, adding that it will be shocking how corrupt the lawyers are. "I tell you, when the list will be released, and that will be very soon, you will be shocked. There is no single lawyer in that list that is not corrupt", he emphasized.

The EFCC boss also accused Nigerian lawyers of aiding and abetting criminals and some corrupt governors. "I am not sorry that we are investigating lawyers. This is because they are accomplices to criminals and corruption in this country. "I was expecting the NBA President to be here, but it is unfortunate that he did not make it. There is something I wanted him to understand. NBA went to Ekiti State to defend Fayose.

"They went to Plateau to support the Governor. Please allow the court to decide. Don't support these governors, they are all corrupt. Are you not happy with what happened in Oyo? That is what EFCC is trying to do. To fish out the corrupt ones and hand them over or the court to decide. Please allow us to be." he stressed.

He continued, "I am just an angry individual who is not happy with what us going on in the country. I don"t personally are about myself but the country.

We can not continue to allow a single individual to embezzle the resources meant for his people. Things have to change". He however, emphasized that the commission is law enforcement agency and will not violate the rule of law nor what the constitution. In his remark, the Secretary-General of NBA Rabana Lawal who commended the efforts EFCC has made in fighting corruption said that NBA does not support any of the governors either impeached or on the process to be impeached.

According to Lawal, NBA does not support personality but the rule of law. "NBA President went to Ekiti State to stand for the integrity of the law and not Fayose. Any position we take is to protect the law and the constitution of the land. "When we went to Plateau we do not support the governor but to uphold the constitution which the Bar stands for", he said. Lawal noted that 88 branches of NBA are in attendance, adding that those lawyers that involved in fraud are not respecter of the law and will be disciplined by NBA if the allegations leveled against them re true. "The generality of Nigeria lawyers are law abiding and respecter of rule of law.

Those that supports the governors are those that pursue contracts and political posts", said he. He however, pleaded with EFCC to always first forward the names of those involved in the crime for proper punishment and disciplinary action by the BAR. "NBA is one with EFCC in the fight against corruption", he stressded.

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