EFCC Boss Tackles Lawyers For Assisting Criminals With “Technical” Advise, Seeks NBA, Judiciary Support

Ibrahim MaguThe acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has enjoined the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to adhere to best ethical practices in supporting the commission’s anti-corruption crusade.
Magu, who said this when members of the NBA paid him a courtesy call at the EFCC head office on Wednesday in Abuja, said part of the professional ethic was for lawyers to question the source of their clients’ wealth.
This is just as he lamented that unprofessional conduct of some lawyers was giving the NBA a bad name.
“I believe no matter the position we take on any issue, Nigeria should come first,” he stated.
“We are worried that some members of the NBA have elected to side with those who do not want the good of Nigeria”, he said.
In a remark titled “The NBA Must Not Allow Corruption To Kill Nigeria”, the acting EFCC boss said society is at the losing end when prominent lawyers not only take clearly tainted briefs, but even facilitate the perpetration of crimes by knowingly supplying the technical know-how and later, helping in the dispersal of the proceeds of crime.
“There are lawyers within the fold of the NBA who ought not to be among your noble ranks”, Magu told the visitors. “Those people are not fit to be called ministers, rather, they are vandals of the temple of justice”.
He also decried the practice by some members of the bar, who he alleged were aiding individuals and corporate organizations to perpetrate economic and financial crimes.
A senior lawyer Ricky Tafa (SAN), was last week arrested in a court premises and detained by EFCC operatives in Lagos for allegedly hiding some of his clients, wanted by the anti-graft commission, inside his car for several hours.
Not only was he arrested along with his clients but had to be released on bail after two days, the EFCC has charged him to court for obstruction of justice and communicating with a judge in the case involving his clients.
Speaking further, Magu lamented that: “Our people have suffered too long to continue to be abandoned to the cruel fate imposed by crooks, and thieves”.
On speculation in some quarters that the fight against corruption is biased and one-sided, the acting EFCC chairman explained that crimes have no political affiliations and the victims of crimes such as money laundering, embezzlement, diversion of funds, and fraud are the ordinary Nigerians.
“Is it a defence in law to say that one individual indicted of any of these crimes should not be prosecuted because another individual who is perceived to be corrupt has not yet been prosecuted?” he asked.
He noted that: “As officers in the temple of justices I enjoin you all to join in the campaign against corruption”.
“Law enforcement, just as the judiciary, encompassing the bar and the bench, is a critical link in the justice system of any society.
“I daresay that even when opinions and tactics differ, the interest of the two blocs cannot but converge on the overriding interest of the people”, Magu added.
He, however, hailed the NBA for supporting the EFCC over the years.
In his remarks, the NBA President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN, commended the EFCC for doing a good job, noting that: “the commission can achieve more mileage, and the commission will indeed achieve more mileage, if certain safety measures are put in place”.
He added: “If certain mannerisms are addressed in good time, let us not lose support that we carry from the Bar, and the commitment that I make from the Bar in fighting corruption is total and unequivocal”.
In apparent reference to the case between Mr. Tarfa and the EFCC, Alegeh said: “For those who think the NBA is here because a Senior Advocate was arrested, that is not why we are here”.
He assured that: “we will do our beat, but when we call and offer suggestions going forward, we also expect to find a listening ear from you”.

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