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SERAP writes Buhari, warns ‘proposed bill will render EFCC a toothless bulldog’

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to “urgently instruct Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation to withdraw the proposed executive bill to amend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] Act, which if passed and signed into law will severely undermine the commission’s independence, and render it a ‘toothless bulldog or toothless tiger’.”

 

The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption headed by Professor Itse Sagay had last week reportedly raised concerns that “the government is pushing a bill to amend the EFCC Act, 2004, which will demolish the anti-corruption infrastructure of Nigeria, and confer an enormous power of control of the anti-graft agency on the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.”

 

In the letter dated 19 September 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The bill, which is apparently designed to undermine the independence, integrity and freedom of action of anti-corruption agencies, ignores the seriousness of grand corruption and its impact on Nigerians’ human rights, the rule of law, principles of good governance, development, as well as the threat corruption poses to the country’s constitutional order.”

 

According to SERAP: “By pushing to turn the EFCC into a department in the Federal Ministry of Justice, and effectively bring it under the control of the Attorney General; and to subject the appointment of the agency’s head to the approval of the Directorate of State Security, your government would seem to indicate that it is not interested in combating corruption and halting its putrefying effects.”

 

The letter, read in part: “We would be grateful if the requested action and measures are taken by your government. Should the proposed bill be passed and signed into law, SERAP would take all appropriate legal actions to challenge its legality, in the public interest, and to ensure that anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria can operate independently and effectively.”

 

“SERAP contends that Nigeria’s constitutional and international legal obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of everyone inevitably create a duty on your government to establish independent and efficient anti-corruption mechanisms.”

 

“This bill is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international anti-corruption obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”

 

“SERAP notes that corruption threatens the injunction that government must be accountable, responsive and open; that public administration must not only be held to account but must also be governed by high standards of ethics, efficiency and must use public resources in an economic and effective manner.”

 

“Under the proposed bill, the limited independence that the EFCC enjoys will be substantially undermined, as the commission will now effectively become a body of the executive government, thus creating heightened risk of political interference in the work of the commission.”

 

“The government would seem to be secretly pushing the proposed bill to amend the EFCC Act, as there is no public consultation or public hearing regarding the contents of the bill.”

 

“Specifically, section 15 subsection (5) of the Constitution requires your government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.”

 

“Similarly, articles 6 and 36 of the UN Convention against Corruption require your government to ensure the existence of an anti-corruption body specialised in preventing corruption and combating corruption through law enforcement which must be granted the necessary independence and be able to carry out its functions effectively and without any undue influence.”

 

“Further, articles 3 and 5 of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption require your government to respect human rights, the rule of law, and promote social justice, as well as establish, maintain and strengthen independent national anti-corruption authorities or agencies.”

 

“SERAP is gravely concerned that the proposed bill by your government will endanger the commission’s independence and integrity, as well as seriously undermine its ability to effectively prevent, investigate and prosecute cases of grand corruption and economic crimes.”

 

“The repressive Companies and Allied Matters Act [CAMA] 2020 was rushed through the National Assembly and passed apparently without any public consultation or public hearing. This secretive approach to passing and signing legislation is antithetical to any basic notion of the rule of law and democratic governance.”

 

“According to Professor Itse Sagay-led Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, your government is reportedly pushing a bill to amend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] Act, 2004.”

 

“The committee has stated that ‘the Executive Chairman of the EFCC will be replaced with a Director-General who is effectively to be appointed by the Attorney-General.”

 

“‘Section 11 of this proposed bill provides that nobody may be appointed or seconded to the new Agency being proposed, unless he is first screened by the Directorate of State Security and approved by the said Agency. Under the proposed Act the Annual Report of the EFCC is not to be submitted to the National Assembly until it has been passed through the Attorney-General for onward transmission to the National Assembly.’”

 

SERAP therefore urged President Buhari to:

 

  1. Urgently instruct Mr Malami to withdraw the proposed bill in the public interest, and to publicly commit to upholding the independence, integrity and effectiveness of anti-corruption agencies in the country, including the EFCC;
  2. Publicly uphold constitutional and international standards on the independence, integrity and effectiveness of anticorruption agencies, including the EFCC;
  3. Take meaningful and effective measures to promote and strengthen the independence and effectiveness of anti-corruption agencies in the country, and ensure that they are free from any undue influence;
  4. Ensure that heads of anti-corruption agencies are appointed through a process that ensures their apolitical stance, impartiality, neutrality, integrity and competence

 

 

 

Kolawole Oluwadare

SERAP Deputy Director

20/09/2020

Lagos, Nigeria

Emails: info@serap-nigeria.orgnews@serap-nigeria.org

Twitter: @SERAPNigeria

Website: www.serap-nigeria.org

For more information or to request an interview, please contact Kolawole Oluwadare on: +2348160537202

 

PRESS STATEMENT

SPN CALLS ON NLC AND TUC TO HARMONIZE THEIR MOBILIZATION AND STRIKES OVER THE STRUGGLE TO REVERSE PETROL PRICE AND ELECTRICITY TARIFF HIKE

SPN ADVOCATES SUSTAINED WARNING GENERAL STRIKES AND MASS PROTESTS

Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) reiterates its condemnation to the recent hikes in petrol price and electricity tariff; the increase in petrol has seen price move up from N148 per litre to N162 per litre while electricity tariff has been increased by over 100%.

The Central Working Committee (CWC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have issued two different ultimatums to the government that could lead to indefinite strike actions and mass protest. The TUC had earlier had their NEC meeting and resolved to issue the federal government a 7-day ultimatum to reverse the price of petrol and electricity tariff failing which indefinite industrial actions and national protest will begin on Wednesday, September 23, 2020. On its part, the NLC arising from its CWC meeting on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, had issued the federal government 14 days to reverse the hikes in electricity tariff and petrol price without which indefinite strike will commence on September 28, 2020.

Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) welcomes these responses of the two trade union centres (NLC and TUC) but we call for harmonisation of both responses. We call on the Ayuba Wabba led NLC leadership and Quadri Olaleye led TUC leadership to meet to harmonise their positions. There is the need to bring the full weight of the trade union movement to bear in the struggle that lie ahead.

We urge the NLC to mobilise their affiliates to join the nationwide protest being planned by the TUC on September 23 and the TUC should also do same for the NLC action starting on September 28.

We call on NLC and TUC to be prepared for a protracted struggle, and not a quick dash. SPN is advocating, as a first step, a definite 48 hours general strike, with an active nationwide mass protest that will involve the trade unions, pro-labour organisations and community organisations in mobilizing and taking important decisions regarding the struggle. An indefinite general strike poses the question of power and the working class must be adequately mobilized around an alternative socialist program to achieve the goal of attaining power and transforming society to meet the needs of all.

We have had at least 9 general strikes in the last 22 years over petrol price hikes and yet the price has moved from N20 per litre in 1999 to N162 per litre, a whopping 700% increment.  Petrol and electricity price hikes should not be seen in isolation from the entire neo-liberal capitalist policies, it is part of a pro-rich economic agenda that undermines the interest of the vast majority working masses. If capitalism is not defeated in the long run, the working masses will constantly come under attack of different magnitude and dimension.

Hence, we advocate the forming and building of a pan Nigerian mass working class political party armed with a socialist program by workers, youth, trade unions, artisan groups and pro-masses organisations to challenge the bourgeois political parties (PDP, APC etc). This is the only way the working class will sustainably fight and win political and economic freedom. SPN is prepared to be part of all initiatives aimed at emancipating the working masses from slavery and economic crises.

SIGNED

Abiodun Bamigboye                                                             Chinedu Bosah

Acting National Chairperson                                                   National Secretary

 

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