*as he inaugurates prosecution Committee
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-President Mohammadu Buhari has said that his government does not interfere with the arrest and prosecutorial activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies in the countries.
The president spoke while inaugurating the National Prosecution Coordination Committee, NPCC saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting high profile financial and other criminal cases in the country at the presidential villa, Abuja on Friday.
The committee which is headed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami has other 19 members outside the attorney-general.
Buhari who spoke through his vice, Professor Yemi Osinabjo at the inauguration however warned the committee to play by the book, eschewing all manners if sentiments and prejudices.
He said “When you look at the way that the EFCC and other law enforcement agencies have acted in recent times you will notice that they are not under any kind of direction of influence of the President.
“They are given the independence to act; they are given the authority and backing to act in their own and to use their own discretion appropriately at all times. You don’t get any situation where the president says go get that person of back off that person.
“It is a very serious responsibility because it also involves making sure that people are treated fairly or that people are not pursued by reason of bias or any other such consideration.”
According to him, the committee also has similar powers to that of EFCC as he said “that is the sort of responsibility placed on your own shoulders as well, the responsibility to exercise prosecutorial power independently and without any direction except of course from the learned Attorney-General who is the constitutional and prosecutorial authority in the country.”
The president also charged the committee to ensure that the system was fair to all.
“When the system is fair everybody buys into it and it is not difficult for people to relate with it and support it”, he added.
Explaining that government took into consideration the legal skills and integrity of the committee members when constituting it, the president stated that every prosecuting organ or agent had the responsibility to put in place a system that “we ourselves would not be afraid to be subjected to”.
He said : “Given the nature of economic crimes and the enormity sometimes of the money that is involved and the influence of those who may have to be prosecuted, you need more than legal skills. You need men and women of strong character and courage who will not only be able to turn down inducements of any kind but also act without consideration for tribe, friendship, religion or any other parochial considerations.
“This is a very important committee because the administration itself is committed to ensuring that we are able to deal with not only question of corruption which is a big item on our agenda but also other economic crimes. Terrorism has assumed different shapes and proportions of late, and the vandalism that we see in parts of the Niger Delta, which has affected so many different things including oil production, power supply.
“We are in a very crucial time in our social development and a committee such as this is very necessary and historic because I do not know of any other of such committee in the history of this country,’’
Earlier in his remarks, the Attorney General and Justice Minister said that the committee comprised 12 ex-officio and eight external members of proven integrity and competence.
“The aim is to ensure effective investigation and prosecution of high profile criminal cases in Nigeria,’’ the minister said.
He added that the committee was not aduplication of the existing anti-corruption agencies, saying it its mandate was to corroborate with the anti-graft agencies for effective services.
Other members of the committee included: Mr. Taiwo Abidogun-Solicitor-General/Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice; Mr. Dipo Okpeseyi, SAN; Mr. Chukuma Machukwu, SAN; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, the Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption; Mr. M.S. Diri, Director of Prosecution,Ministry of Justice; Mr. Pius Oteh, Esq; Okoi Obono-Obla Esq; Mrs Juliet Ibekaku; Mr. Abiodun Aikomo, Esq; Mr. Kehinde Oginni, Esq; Mr. Salihu Othman Isah-Special Adviser, Media & Publicity to the Attorney-General; Al-Amin Ado Ibrahim, from the Office of the National Security Adviser; Nafiu Yakubu; Tunji Oluborode, Esq; Eric Onokif Ifere Esq; Mrs Diane Okoko; Temitope Adebayo, Esq; DIG Abdulrahman Yusuf, RTD and Sylvester Imhanobe, Esq, Secretary to the Committee.