A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has said that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should not have existed, noting that the commission currently operates outside the Constitution.

Agbakoba stated that since the EFCC is a creation of the National Assembly, it does not have the power to interfere with the activities of state governments.

The lawyer, who said so at a news conference in Lagos on Thursday, maintained that the 1999 constitution provides for only one police force for Nigeria, adding that since the anti-corruption agency is not a branch of the police, it could not play its function. functions

He noted that the EFCC is a federal establishment created by the National Assembly, adding that under Article 4 of the 1999 Constitution, the powers of government are divided into two: federal and state.

He said: “The question would be if the EFCC is created by the Federal Government, can it then prosecute state crimes?

“The Supreme Court in many of its decisions has held that federalism means two autonomous and independent governments and if that is correct, the EFCC has no right to go to the states and examine their accounts.

“Anyone can read section 46 of the EFCC Act and Section 36(12) of the Constitution 1999. Section 36(12) states that all offenses must be defined and specified when you now read Section 46 you wonder if it meets with Section 36(12). it doesn’t

“I have asked myself in my investigation, is the EFCC a police force, is it an intelligence agency or is it a security agency? I have looked at the definition of what the Police Force could be. The police force is the one that investigates and detects crimes, arrests them and sometimes prosecutes them. That is the central function of the police force.”

Agbakoba said that since Section 214 of the Constitution says that there will only be one police force and the EFCC is performing police functions, “then one of my sentences in court would be that the EFCC should not exist in the first place because it is not a branch “. of the police and that the work carried out by the EFCC is the same as that being carried out by the Special Fraud Unit of the Police.

“My other sentence would be whether the National Assembly can make laws for the federation and to what extent can the National Assembly, which is an arm of the Federal Government, make laws that authorize a federal agency to exercise powers as if it were a state agency.” .

Agbakoba added that he is not fighting the commission, as he is one of the biggest supporters of the rule of law and the fight against corruption, noting that the real problem is non-compliance with the rule of law by security agencies.

In an interview with the punchanother leading advocate, Mr. Ebun Adegboruwa, backed Agbakoba on the issue.

Adegboruwa said: “All the people in the EFCC who are working are regular policemen who were recruited from the existing police force. So it’s a matter of training and empowerment.

“If the facilities, money and training available to the EFCC are available to the police, I am sure they will probably do better. So I have reason to believe and I agree with Dr. Agbakoba that too many government agencies are duplicating themselves.”

But Norrison Quakers (SAN) disagreed with them, saying the EFCC is separate and distinct from the police because the law that established it empowered it to investigate and prosecute financial crime.

Similarly, Mr. Wahab Shittu (SAN) criticized Agbakoba and Adegboruwa.

He said the EFCC and the Independent Commission on Corrupt Practices and Other Related Crimes were created specifically to tackle corruption.

When contacted by phone, EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren told The PUNCH he was not aware of the lawyers’ comment.