The outgoing Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has taken what informed sources described as “a final, desperate parting stab” at the EFCC.
In an executive bill believed to have emanated from Malami’s office and entitled, “Proceeds of Crime Bill,” the office of the AGF is pressing the President to remove the powers currently vested in the EFCC to a separate commission to manage the proceeds of crime.
The office of the AGF did not invite input from the EFCC, the main agency to be affected by the bill, before it was forwarded to the National Assembly.
The legislature also did not invite the agency to the hearing before railroading for Presidential assent, raising doubts about the motives of those involved.
The Financial Action Task Force guidelines provide that anti-corruption agencies should have primary responsibility for the investigation and recovery of the proceeds of crime.
There are fears that the bill may also undermine the ICPC Act, the Police Act, the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act among others.
One inside source described it as “a potential blow targeted at the heart of President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption.”
But for last minute vigilance, the instigators wanted President Buhari to sign the bill along with the 2019 Budget, but he demurred and referred the bill to the EFCC for its comments.
Malami has had a running turf war with the EFCC, insisting that the files of certain high-profile politicians under investigations should be forwarded to his office – a move with the agency has so far resisted.