28 April 2017

Nigeria: House Asks Buhari to Seek Clarity On EFCC Act From Courts

Abuja — The House of Representatives thursday passed a resolution urging President Muhammadu Buhari to seek interpretation in the court of law on any contrived conflict in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act, which is an existing law in the country.

It further advised officials of the executive arm of government to refrain from making statements that connote the usurpation of the powers of the judiciary with their negative effects on the doctrine of separation of powers.

The House also mandated its Committee on Legislative Compliance to ensure implementation of the resolution.

The House position was sequel to a motion sponsored by House Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor (Delta, PDP), on the need to prevent the erosion of the doctrine of separation of powers in the nation's democratic practice.

The motion had acted on the ongoing feud over the confirmation of the Chairman of the EFCC whereby a statement had been reportedly credited to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to the effect that the appointment of the Chairman of the EFCC does not require confirmation of the Senate, in line with Section 171 of the constitution.

The lawmakers said they were convinced that the EFCC Act is an Act of the National Assembly that could only be set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction, maintaining that until that happens, the law remains in force and binding on all persons and authorities in the country.

They further noted that the executive arm of government has not filed any proceeding in any court to challenge the provision of Section 2 (3) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act of 2004.

Among other things, the House expressed concern that the statement credited to Osinbajo was capable of eroding the doctrine of separation of powers in the country's democracy, with its obvious implication of instituting a dictatorship in the country.

Hon. Kinsley Chinda (Rivers, PDP) said he regretted that an opinion of the vice president had been upgraded to mean the position of the presidency on the appointment of the EFCC boss.

He cautioned the executive to be weary of how it interprets laws of the National Assembly.

But Hon. Mohammed Sani Zoro (Jigawa, APC) had urged for restraint until the reports on the alleged statement by Osinbajo was ascertained before passing the resolutions.

Nevertheless, his opinion to step down the prayers of the motion until investigation was concluded was overturned by an overwhelming majority voice vote.

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