by Alexander O. Onukwe
Abubakar Malami has made quite a meticulous move to further bring the EFCC under stricter control of the Ministry of Justice through the creation of “an investigation unit with the mandate to investigate ‘sensitive and important cases’”, according to ThisDay.
Mr Malami believes part of his disagreement with Magu lies in the propensity of the agency to undertake prosecutions based on media reports that may not be correct. Hence, the new unit will now “coordinate and form part of every investigation in Nigeria”, partly because the agencies under the Ministry’s supervision who take cases to court often do not show sufficient “legal expertise in the conduct and process of investigations”.
The EFCC is one about six agencies under the supervision of Malami’s Ministry of Justice. The helmsmen of the daughter and parent organisations have had their falling out become a public affair, with much more friction and consequence than the brief social media trifle between the head of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, Dr Yemi Kale, and an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Abayomi Shogunle.
The Constitution recognizes Malami as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation and it seems he wants to leverage on the full privileges of that title to now be directly involved in the cases taken up by the agencies under him. Mr Magu, like previous EFCC bosses before him, is a Police Officer and though the men in black are colloquially referred to as officers of the law, they are not quite prosecutors.
It is perhaps no surprise then that Malami is seeking to inject direct legal involvement. Invoking the failure so far to land high profile convictions in anti-corruption cases, Malami, through his new unit, will “coordinate and form part of every investigation in Nigeria for robust investigation and successful prosecution of such cases”.
The new investigation unit will now have to give “advice beforehand to every security agency carrying out an investigation on the best lawful and admissible means of such investigation for effective prosecution thereafter”.
In other words, it would appear the EFCC may not proceed with any trials or prosecution without getting a guide on how to proceed from this investigation unit. With this, the AGF looks like he wants to stamp his authority on the EFCC and establish a new chain of command from the agency to the Ministry which may have to involve his sanction and approval.
High profile anti-corruption cases are always going to be “sensitive and important”, so it can only mean that the Ministry would now be directly involved in these, providing the guide which the EFCC would have to follow.