EFCC Tackles Agbakoba Over Power to Probe States Finances
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reacted to comments made by a senior lawyer, Mr Olisa Agbakoba, over the agency’s investigation into the finances of the Kogi State government.
In a statement issued on Monday, the commission said it never violated any law to beam its searchlight on how the state government has been spending public funds.
According to Agbakoba, EFCC not only disregards the rule of law but has no business inquiring into how the Kogi State Government spends its funds.
But the EFCC said it takes great exception at the “indecorous and utterly irresponsible attempt by Agbakoba to dress it in the borrowed garb of a lawless entity and a meddlesome interloper, who has no business probing the stealing of Kogi State resources.
“In all his tirades, no evidence was presented to support his claim that the EFCC has been lawless, nor did he mention any law which the commission’s investigation of the finances of the Kogi State Government violated.
“Instead, his refrain was to a non-extent decision of the Supreme Court which he also failed to electorate upon. But it is important to state that contrary to the views of Agbakoba, the Supreme Court at no time delivered any judgement which forbids the EFCC from investigating fraud cases involving a state government.
“The learned counsel ought to have known that the Apex Court of the land as far back as 2010 in JOLLY TEVORU NYAME V FRN (2010) 11 NWLR (PT.1193)344 held that the claim that the money belongs to
Taraba State and that the state has an exclusive claim on it to the exclusion of any other authority by virtue of section 120 of the 1999 constitution cannot stand.
“Furthermore, Agbakobas erroneous views ought to be tempered by the decision of the Supreme Court in A.G ONDO STATE v. A.G., FEDERATION (2002) 9 NWLR [pt.772] page 222 at page 308 where the court held: It has been pointed out that the provisions of the Act impinge on the cardinal principle of federalism, namely, the requirement of equality and autonomy of the state government and non-interference with the functions of state government. This is true, but as seen above, both the Federal and State governments share the power to legislate in order to abolish corruption and abuse of office. If this is a breach of the principle of Federalism, then, I am afraid, it is the Constitution that makes the provisions that have facilitated the breach of the principle. As far as the aberration is supported by the provision of the Constitution, I think it cannot rightly be argued that illegality has occurred by the failure of the Constitution to adhere to the cardinal principles which are at best ideals to follow or guidance for an ideal situation.
“Lastly, the learned silk should also know that his views are totally unsupported by the facts, circumstances of Kogi’s case and the decision of the Court of Appeal in KALU V FRN & (2012) LPELR- 9287 (CA), which decision knocked the bottom out of the contention of Agbakoba.
“From the decisions of the Appellate Court, it is clear that whilst the State Assemblies can investigate finances of their states, they are not empowered to investigate and prosecute fraud cases; that responsibility lies with agencies such as the EFCC.
“It is therefore morally reprehensible for a learned silk of Agbakoba’s calibre to promote the view that state governments cannot be questioned on how they use the resources of their states and that law enforcement organizations cannot investigate cases of alleged wanton theft of Kogi State’s resources particularly where the alleged thieves do not report themselves! Had this view been promoted by any other lawyer than Agbakoba, who rose to national prominence as an advocate of civil liberties and anti-corruption, it would have been pardonable.
“When men who are seen as the conscience of the nation begin to approbate and reprobate on an issue, it is almost certain they are driven by motives which could be far from altruistic.
“The manner in which Agbakoba delivered his message in the so-called media briefing, he sounded more like a spokesperson of the Kogi State Government than an advocate of the rule of law. By his demeanour, any citizen who thought the briefing was only a smokescreen to vilify the EFCC at the pleasure of the Kogi State Government would be forgiven.
“But Agbakoba is not counsel to the Kogi State government, at least not publicly. But even Kogi state lawyers, whom he offered his free counsel on how to handle the EFCC at the briefing, would not have put up a better performance. Despite not being counsel to the Kogi State Government, Agbakoba had no scruples using the media to pontificate on a matter that is currently before a court of competent justification. This, to him, does not amount to a media trial of the EFCC!
“In his game of ostrich, Agbakoba continually harped on Section 46 of the EFCC Act but ignored the provisions of Section 7 of the same Act and various provisions of the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Act, the Advance Fee Fraud Other Fraud Related Offences Act, etc., which gives the commission power to investigate all fraud cases.
“Why is Agbakoba so jittery about the robust response of the EFCC to corruption that he would openly incite the next administration against the commission? That essentially was the agenda when he said: So the candidate (2023 election candidates) must tell us what they are going to do with all these agencies because we need to know if they are going to allow the EFCC to continue to engage in media trials and carry on as the attack dog of the federal government against other arms and levels of governments.
“Is the federal government of President Muhammadu Buhari against Yahaya Bello Administration of Kogi State? Where does Agbakoba get his logic of attack dogs? What is a media trial when a case has been filed in court, and the defendants have taken their pleas? Should Nigerians have been kept in the dark that a certain nephew of Yahaya Bello is facing a N10 billion fraud trial?
“EFCC is not averse to criticisms, but it will not ignore jaundiced views masked as advocacy for the rule of law. No amount of intimidation and sponsored attacks will deter the commission from investigating cases of corruption in any level of government or involving any individual, however well placed, until we rid our nation of this monster.”
We Will Fulfil Paris Agreement on Climate Change—FG
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government of Nigeria has assured that it is ready to fulfil the Paris Agreement on Climate Change to ensure effective gender inclusion.
This was disclosed by Mr Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, during the inauguration and inception workshop of the project in Abuja tagged The Nigeria Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT), Just and Gender Inclusive Transition (JGIT) Project.
The project is aimed at helping countries to better assess the impacts of their climate policies and actions and fulfil their transparency commitments.
Mr Ngige said the objective of the inception meeting was to launch the ICAT Just Transition project and increase awareness among the national stakeholders for a better understanding of its implementation.
He said that ICAT, an International multi-stakeholder partnership of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), was supporting Nigeria in setting up Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) of a Just and Gender Inclusive Transition(JGIT).
The minister, represented by Ms Daju Kachollom, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said Nigeria had signed a Project Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the UNOPS, represented by the ICAT management.
According to him, the PCA is to firm up the process leading to the take-off and implementation of the project over a 12 months period.
“The objectives of the project, among others, include developing JGIT monitoring and MRV and ensuring it links with the sectoral MRV system.
“Another objective is to Enhance Transparency Framework (ETF) implemented by the Federal Ministry of Environment to achieve synergy, institutional memory, and stakeholder inclusion and cooperation.
“It will further enable a tripartite cooperation between government, labour, and employer associations to achieve a Just and Gender Inclusive Transition going forward with the implementation of the Paris agreement,” he said.
The minister said that the ICAT project would be implemented by a team of national experts and international ICAT consultants under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
On his part, Dr Yerima Tarfa, ICAT, JGIT Project Team Lead, said the initiative would help to increase the overall transparency capacities of countries and assess the contribution of policies and development objectives.
According to him, this is by providing appropriate methodological information and tools to support evidence–based policymaking.
Dr Tarfa noted that Nigeria was the largest economy and leading oil producer, and most populous in Africa.
“It faces the unique challenge of having to diversify its economy away from fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, and increasingly, coal) while responding to the unmet energy needs of its growing population.
“Nonetheless, Nigeria is turning this challenge into an opportunity by increasing the use of renewable energy, reducing its carbon footprints, and eliminating gas flaring.
“Nigeria’s National Determined Contributions (NDCs) is committed to a 20 per cent emission reduction by 2030 unconditionally and 45 per cent conditional, with focus on power and electricity, oil and gas,” he said.
The team lead said the highlights of the NDCs include ending gas flaring by 2030 and a 30 per cent energy efficiency level by 2030.
He said the inauguration of the inception workshop would provide the opportunity to create awareness and build a national cross-knowledge sharing that would provide a platform for key stakeholders to facilitate the implementation of the Nigeria ICAT JGIT Project.
He added that this would further set up an MRV of Just and Gender Inclusive Transition and its Roadmap for implementation in Nigeria.
Appeal Court Restores Adeleke as Osun Governor
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
An appeal court sitting in Abuja on Friday upturned the judgment of the Osun governorship election tribunal, which removed Mr Ademola Adeleke as Governor of Osun State.
In January, the tribunal declared the former Governor of the state, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, as the authentic winner of the 2022 governorship election in the state.
While Mr Adeleke contested for the position under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Oyetola flew the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mr Adeleke was declared winner of the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but Mr Oyetola, who contested as a sitting governor, approached the tribunal to dislodge the winner.
He argued that Mr Adeleke won through an electoral fraud, over-voting and his prayers were answered, as the tribunal upturned INEC’s decision and declared him the winner.
However, Governor Adeleke appealed the judgement and today, a three-member panel of justices held that the election tribunal erred when it ruled that Mr Oyetola and the APC proved their allegation of over-voting.
The appellate court held that Mr Adeleke was validly elected as the governor of Osun State and restored his mandate.
NDDC Seeks Partnerships to Reduce Dependency on IOCs, FG for Funding
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has disclosed plans not to rely on oil multinationals and the federal government to raise funds for development projects in the region but instead pursue Public-Private Partnerships arrangements to drive development in the Niger Delta region.
According to the NDDC Managing Director, Mr Samuel Ogbuku, this PPP model would ease the financial burden of the central government.
Mr Ogbuku, speaking during an Executive Management and staff meeting at the commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, announced that a summit was in the offing to enable stakeholders to explore opportunities for collaboration.
He stated the NDDC would not relent in its PPP campaign to bring sustainable development to the Niger Delta region.
“We intend to leverage our PPP initiative during the summit, which will take place in April. It will help us to showcase what we can offer and show the world the future of NDDC.
“We cannot continue to rely on international oil companies and the federal government to raise funds for development projects. We intend to show the world that NDDC has been rebranded.
“We will take the campaign to all relevant organisations. Last week, we were at the meeting of the Oil Producers Trade Section, OPTS, of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lagos. Henceforth, NDDC will be attending the OPTS quarterly meetings.”
The NDDC boss further stated that the commission would also focus on capacity building for youths in the region.
“We are going to focus on youth development programmes; we have come up with a new concept of working with the Niger Delta Chamber of Commerce in the training of our youths and young entrepreneurs.
“We will show the world that we have young entrepreneurs. The various Chambers of Commerce will help us to make the programme sustainable. We will focus on empowering young people because the government cannot employ everybody.”
On NDDC’s commitment to its contractors, Mr Ogbuku affirmed that the Commission was engaging them to arrive at practicable ways of liquidating the debts saying, “We have been meeting with the contractors, and gradually, all legitimate debts will be defrayed.”
The NDDC boss said there was a need for reform within the Commission in order to bring it in line with the NDDC Establishment Act. For instance, he said, “we are reorganising the directorates to bring the number to only 13 provided for in the Act.”
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