Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The rivalry between law enforcement agencies in the country reared its head thursday, when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said the Department of State Services (DSS) had no business raiding and arresting judges, as corruption does not constitute a threat to national security.
The commission said the allegations against the judges amounted to financial crimes, which are under the purview of anti-graft agency as stipulated in the EFCC Act.
This was the position of the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, when he appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the invasion of property and arrest of persons for reasons outside the general duties of the DSS.
The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Mr. Ekpo Nta, however, said the DSS raid was in order, as the agency can perform the duties of the police.
Magu, who was represented by an Assistant Director (Prosecution), Mr. Ojogbane Johnson, also disclosed that the agency was “not particularly involved” in the operation against the judges.
“It is a crime motivated by greed, but it’s within the purview of the EFCC. Bribery and corruption are for personal gain, and what it has affected in my view was not security, but development. It is not about the internal security which the DSS deals with, what it does is to rob us of our commonwealth.
“I am not aware of any issue they (DSS) have been involved in that has elicited as much criticism as this one. It is not so much because people are against them fighting corruption but the methodology,” he said.
Magu explained that the DSS could have executed the same operation by inviting or arresting the judges during the day or arraigning them in court.
“Most of these people are not violent on their own and when we put them before a compromised judge, and are set free, they go back to do the same things, like duping people. That has nothing to do with internal security,” he added.
Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu (Anambra PDP) asked Magu if the EFCC had received petitions against the judges, or was investigating them.
Magu admitted that the agency had been investigating several judges, and was still investigating some, including a few that were arrested by the DSS.
Earlier, the Director General of the DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura, had appeared before the committee. His submission was however taken behind closed doors.
Emerging about one and a half hours later, Daura refused to talk to waiting journalists. Pestered while his men cleared the path blocked by journalists, he simply said: “The meeting went well.”
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami, was absent at the hearing, and did not send a representative.
The chairman of the committee, Hon. Mohammed Garba Datti (Kaduna APC), said Malami did not submit any memoranda as requested or sent an apology for his absence.
“We summoned him to appear today (yesterday) because we are aware that the Federal Executive Council meeting holds on Wednesdays. We are giving him up to Tuesday to appear, failing which we will make the committee to invoke its power of arrest,” he said.
The hearing adjourned till next Tuesday.
Credit: THISDAY Newspaper