June 13, 2024

Olisa Agbakoba, the former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has called upon the recently inaugurated Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Lateef Fagbemi, to curtail the authority of the anti-corruption agency, EFCC, in conducting independent investigations and to abstain from prosecuting individuals accused of corruption.

Agbakoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), stressed that urgent actions were necessary for the new AGF. He advocated for substantial reforms within the criminal justice system, particularly addressing the confusion arising from the overlapping functions of law enforcement agencies like EFCC and ICPC. He suggested a restructuring of the EFCC’s role, limiting it to investigation while advocating for the creation of a new National Prosecution Agency.

These statements were made by Agbakoba in a post on the X platform, previously known as Twitter, on Monday. Mr. Fagbemi was one of the ministers sworn in on Monday at the State House Conference Center, Abuja, by President Bola Tinubu.

Agbakoba, known for his criticism of EFCC’s operations in the past, contended that the task of prosecution should be held off until the establishment of a new national prosecution agency. He also mentioned his previous disagreement with the EFCC’s investigation into Kogi state Governor Yahaya Bello and his family for alleged misappropriation of N10 billion, asserting that the Commission lacked the constitutional authority to scrutinize a state’s fund usage.

In his recent statement, Agbakoba underscored the need for comprehensive changes and decentralization of the Nigerian police force. He implored Mr. Fagbemi to address the outdated legal statutes prevalent in the country, drawing attention to the transformative example of Rwanda, which revamped 1000 laws.

Agbakoba went on to highlight other essential reforms, such as creating specialized dispute resolution agencies to alleviate the backlog of regular courts and rectifying the over-centralization of superior courts. He proposed constitutional amendments to establish a system of Federal and State Courts, each with defined jurisdictions. He expressed confidence in Lateef Fagbemi’s capabilities to lead these transformations, acknowledging Fagbemi’s expertise and competence.

Overall, Agbakoba’s message emphasized the urgency of legal and structural reforms within the Nigerian justice system, advocating for a more efficient and decentralized approach to law enforcement and dispute resolution.

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