Vice President Yemi Osinabjo has declared that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has absolute powers to arrest anybody found to have committed any crime punishable under the laws of Nigeria.
Osinbajo, who stated this in an interview with reporters in Lagos, said the anti-graft agency does not require the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari or himself to go after anybody found wanting.
The vice president explained that the President, in line with his tradition of openness and transparency in governance, has given full rights to all law enforcement agencies to carry out their duties without interference. He said that the Buhari administration will continue to give complete freedom for government agencies to perform.
“With respect to the arrest of DG, NIA, and some of what took place, I think the fair thing to say is that the President has said that the EFCC has the absolute right to go ahead and do whatever it needs to do to ensure that anybody who has committed a crime, or who is suspected to having committed a crime, is brought to justice, and that’s the position that the EFCC has taken. “You know the EFCC has issued a notice for the DG, NIA, and SGF to attend interview with the EFCC; but we are sure that that process would be followed to a logical conclusion.
“To ensure that you allow government agency do their business, that’s very important; that’s institution building. Look at what is happening in the U.S. today; the President is sometimes angry with the FBI because the FBI is doing its independent work, and that’s what we hope to achieve: when you see countries where agencies are doing their work the way they are supposed to do it,” he added.
Speaking specifically on why the sacked Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, and the former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ayodele Oke, have not been arrested and arraigned by the EFCC since their investigation was concluded, Osinbajo said: “One of the things that the President decided to do is to ensure that every agency does its work without direct interference from the President.
“So the President does not call the EFCC, and say, “Go and arrest Mr. Ekpeyong”, no. And that’s one of the most important things about the style of this government, and we want the agencies to do their work.
No one has showed up and called Magu and say, “Look go and arrest.” That’s what it is.” Osinbajo, while making inference to the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the EFCC boss and the rejection by the Senate twice for his confirmation, said that it was up to the Department of State Services (DSS) to submit a report against the candidacy of the anti-graft boss and the right of Magu to also defend himself.
According to the Vice President, while the DSS submitted a report against the candidacy of Magu, the EFCC acting chairman defended himself sufficiently and was considered for the second time by both himself and President Buhari as the man for the job.
“While you will find, for example, that the DG, DSS, upon the request by the Senate, wrote a security report and sent it, yet it is up to the President to decide whether he’s going to present this candidate.
Interfering with the process of a security report is not leadership, that’s obstructing. “He is not supposed to interfere. If you say, “Send your report”, whatever report you want to send, the man defends himself, and we still believe he is the right person for the job.
That is the position that we took when he was presented the second time. “Of course, the Senate has had their own say on that and they are entitled to take some of the positions they are taking.
But the President believes that this is the right man for the job, so he presented him the second time,” Osinbajo noted.
Commenting on the inability of government to deliver fully on its plans for the power sector, Osinbajo explained that the major challenge being faced by Generation and Distribution Companies (GENCOs) and (DISCOs) was paucity of funds. “I also think that, perhaps in the area of power, especially trying to do much more, but power is privatized.
A lot of the power companies, a lot of the GENCOs, the DISCOs in particular, simply don’t have the resources to replace assets, so they slow down. “How I wish they have more funds to pump into assets and we hope they have more resources to do so. We’ve put in place the over N700 billion payment assurance scheme, but that is insufficient,” he stressed.