Corruption Cannot Be Banished Totally Wahab Shittu

 

A legal practitioner and counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wahab Shittu, says corruption cannot be completely eradicated from the country.

Although he described corruption as the ‘elephant in the room’ which needs to be tamed, he noted that it cannot be banished totally.

The lawyer made the comments on Tuesday while analysing the achievements of the Muhammadu Bu8hari administration at a Town Hall organised by Channels Television ahead of the Inauguration Day.

He said, When you talk of corruption, you talk of a breakdown of systems, institutions, a breakdown of societal traditions, and a breakdown of ethical and moral behaviours.

The elephant in the room is corruption. What we need to do is to tame this monster called corruption which is at the heart of our problems.”

Mr Shittu commended the present administration, saying it has achieved more prosecutions of corrupt officials than any other government.

According to him, the Buhari administration has also gained the recognition of the African Union for its anti-corruption drive.

The lawyer said, If you talk of the security and economic challenges that we have, at the heart of all of this is the menace called corruption and that is why we need to commend President Muhammadu Buharis administration.”

Corruption cannot be banished totally, but we need to put in place mechanisms to reduce it to its barest minimum, he added.

Rights Enforcement Suit: Court Allows Fresh Evidence Of Rickey Tarfa

Rickey-TarfaA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has allowed a Senior Nigerian lawyer, Rickey Tarfa, to file additional evidence in support of his fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Mohammed Idris on Wednesday, said that the EFCC would suffer no injury if Mr Tarfa’s “further and better affidavit” was allowed, stressing that it would better serve the interest of justice to allow the document.

Mr Tarfa had filed the additional evidence in opposition to an allegation by the EFCC that he offered a bribe of 225,000 Naira to Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court.

In the fresh evidence, a former member of  Tarfa’s law firm, one Mohammed Awal Yunusa, claimed to be the owner of an Access Bank account, which the EFCC had alleged belongs to Justice Yunusa.

The lawyer had earlier admitted that he and some friends donated the money to the judge for the burial of his father-in-law.

The EFCC’s counsel, Wahab Shittu, had opposed the fresh evidence, insisting it was an afterthought.

Justice Idris had ruled in Mr Tarfa’s favour on the grounds that a party should be allowed to bring any evidence or material that would aid his case.

Mr Tarfa had approached the court asking it to award him the sum of 2.5 billion Naira as damages against the EFCC over his unlawful arrest and detention.

Joined as defendants are: the Commission’s acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC operatives that arrested him, Moses Awolusi, and the Deputy Director Operations, EFCC, Lagos office, Iliyasu Kwarbai.

Apart from the monetary compensation, Tarfa also asked the court to compel the defendants to release his two mobile handsets allegedly collected from him on Friday, February, 5.

He stated that the EFCC intended to destroy all information, data and other retrievable materials stored in the two handsets.

Mr Tarfa also sought an order urging the court to direct the defendants to release his Mercedes Benz SUV with registration Number, KJA 700CG unlawfully seized from him.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also asked the court to order the EFCC, Magu and the other defendants to publicly apologise to him in at least two widely circulated national newspapers, on social media and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as well as Channels Television within 24 hours from the day of the judgment of the suit.

He asked for an order of perpetual injunction restraining all the defendants and their agents from further violating his rights.

Hearing of the application has been fixed for Thursday, March 3.

Rickey Tarfa Denies Bribery Allegation

Rickey-TarfaA Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Rickey Tarfa, has told a Federal High Court in Lagos that it’s not true he gave a bribe of 225,000 Naira to Justice Mohammed Yunusa.

The senior lawyer said that it was common knowledge in legal circles that Justice Yinusa lost his father in-law, Garba Damasa, on 28 December, 2013 in Maiduguri.

He said that the donation, which was made on January 7, 2014, was made by some friends of the judge towards the funeral rites of the judge’s Father in-law.

Mr Tarfa is challenging his unlawful arrest & detention by the EFCC, an incident which happened on February 5 at the premises of the Lagos High Court in Igbosere an area in Lagos Island.

He is seeking 2.5 billion Naira as compensation for exemplary and aggravated damages as well as a public apology from the anti-graft agency.

After adopting the substantive application, the supporting affidavit and other documents in the case, Mr Ayorinde urged the court to rule in his clients favour

But the prosecuting counsel, Wahab Shittu, asked the court to dismiss the suit for lack of merit or in the alternative stay further proceedings pending the determination of the criminal charge against the applicant at the Lagos High Court.

He argued that the facts and circumstances of the case which arose from the incidence of February 5, has resulted in a criminal action.

Obstructing the EFCC from carrying out its statutory duties, according to the lawyer, is an Offence punishable with a minimum of five years imprisonment going by the EFCC Act.

After listening to the arguments, Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned the case till February 29 for his ruling.

Enugu Impeachment: Nigeria Needs Code Of Political, Ethical Conduct – Legal Expert

ImpeachmentNigeria’s democracy cannot grow if the practitioners are not willing to be democrats.

A Legal Practitioner, Wahab Shittu, said this on Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, during a conversation on the impeachment brouhaha in Enugu State.

Fifteen out of 24 members of the Enugu State House of Assembly had on Monday commenced an impeachment process against the State Governor, Sullivan Chime, putting forward allegations of forgery, inflation of funds for state project execution and unlawful acquisition of public landed property.

The process took a different turn when eight members of the House loyal to the Governor sat, impeached the Speaker, Honourable Eugene Odoh, and shot down the House indefinitely.

Despite his impeachment by the eight members of the House, the ‘impeached Speaker’, Honourable Eugene Odoh, said that the 15 lawmakers would continue with the impeachment process on Tuesday, insisting that the Governor had been duly served.

Reading from the constitution, Mr Shittu stated that the simple interpretation of the constitution means that both factions of the Enugu House of Assembly have erred in the manner they have gone about their intentions.

While the eight lawmakers trying to protect the Governor by impeaching the Speaker cannot possibly be taken serious because they are not up to two-third of the House members, the 15 trying to impeach the Governor have also acted against the constitution.

According to him, those who have served the Governor an impeachment notice cannot proceed except from the premises of the legislative house and their impeachment notice is not binding if not served to all members of the House.

Having stated few constitutional breaches already noticed, he stated that since the 15 lawmakers have been prevented from convening in the assembly, insisting on impeaching the Governor, if done in another location, would be unconstitutional.

He also berated the Police for preventing lawmakers from gaining access into the assembly premises. He wondered why political officers should be prevented by the Police from performing their duties in a democracy when it is the duty of the Police to protect democratic institutions.

Mr Shittu would not condemn the morality of allegations from both parties but stated that it is the constitutional function of the House of Assembly to represent, make laws and perform oversight functions.

On the back of this, he maintained that all members should be allowed to enter the assembly and together decide what actions they want to take.

On the refusal of the House to approve the Governor’s request for 11billion Naira, he said; “They should consider that request only on merit,” adding that the interest of the people only should matter and not other factors like its timing.

He added also that the Nigerian Constitution needs some of its sections properly interpreted.

An example of this is the argument about what is needed to carry out a major function like the impeachment of a Speaker in the House – if it is two-thirds of the all members of the House or two-thirds of members present at the session.

Although Mr Shittu had earlier argued that the simple interpretation is that two-thirds of all members of the House is what the constitution recommends for any key decision to be binding, he suggested that a ‘code of political and ethical conduct’ be put in place to guide how politicians carry out their activities and it should be binding on every lawmaker.

He added that the constitution also needs to clarify what specific actions should amount to “gross misconduct” as the allegation has been widely used as a tool to settle scores.

Nigeria needs to strengthen two key institutions; the judiciary and the Police, Mr Shittu said, adding that “if these two institutions are strengthened and act professionally all these impunity will stop”.

Nasarawa Impeachment: Commissioner Insists Case Against Al-Makura Is Over

Nasarawa Impeachment_Hamza MohammedFollowing the dismissal of allegations against the Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-makura, the Commissioner for Information in the state, Hamza Mohammed, believes that as far as the law is concerned, the crisis in Nasarawa State should be over.

He made this assertion on Channels Television’s weekend breakfast programme, Sunrise.

The Nasarawa impeachment investigative panel set up by the State Chief Judge, Justice Suleiman Dikko, to investigate the 16-count allegation of misconduct and breaches of the constitution levelled against Governor Al-Makura had dismissed the allegations against the Governor following the failure of the State House of Assembly to provide evidence in support of the claims.

The panel held that in criminal proceedings, the onus lies on the person who had made the allegations to prove culpability and that since the state’s lawmakers had failed to prove the allegations, the panel had no choice but to dismiss the allegations.

On the back of this, Mr Mohammed, during the conversation, said: “Section 188 subsection 7 of the constitution says that as soon as the report of the panel is a ‘not guilty’ charge, no further proceedings has to be undertaken in regards to impeachment issue and we believe that is the situation now”.

He, however, berated the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, for allegedly urging the Assembly men to carry on with the impeachment process, during a rally of the People’s Democratic Party.

He maintained that as far as the party was concerned, the Governor “has not committed any misconduct to warrant any impeachment” since his assumption of office, adding that he has the support of the people of the state.

A legal practitioner, Wahab Shittu, who was also on the programme, said that the respect for the constitution and the rule of law was most important and that it should be the perspective that Nigerians should be concerned about, as adhering to it would help the country’s democracy survive.

According to him, “impeachment is both a constitutional process as well as a political process.

Electoral Act Amendment: Looking At The New Provisions

Electoral Act provisionsStakeholders in the Nigerian political landscape have continued to express varying views on the ongoing process of amending the Nigerian Electoral Act with the recent passage of some provisions by the Nigerian Senate.

The July 6 edition of Politics Today on Channels Television focused on the new provisions of the amendment of the Electoral Act with guests from the legal and political sphere engaging in the conversation.

A legal practitioner, Wahab Shittu, believes that the only way to sanitize the electoral process was to review the laws and he lauded the Senate for making some of their decisions, which he said were steps in the right direction. Although, one of the amendments regarding the penalty for election result falsification, he said was too light.

A 12 month imprisonment with an option of a 500,000 Naira fine, he stated, was not deterrent enough as he argued that there should have been no option of a fine for such magnitude of crime which he said should have attracted a life jail.

A politician, Ken Okolugbo, also part of the conversation, noted that the Nigerian Senate has done very well with its approval of electronic voting. Although he admitted that the practise might not start immediately, he believed that it was a good foundation for a stronger electoral system.

He, however, differed with Mr Shittu as regards the penalty for election result falsification. The Political Scientist noted that Nigeria’s democracy was relatively young and as such would need to grow gradually.

He explained that the 12 months imprisonment was a good way to put all stakeholders in check, starting with the Youth Corpers who are usually deployed as electoral officers during elections. He believed that the fear of being jailed for 12 months was enough to stop them from engaging in sharp practices.

Burden of Proof At Election Tribunal

With the new amendments, the burden of proving irregularities during an election has been lifted off INEC.

Barrister Shittu believes that nothing has changed as the burden has always remained with the petitioner. He noted that it would have been better to have the Burden of Proof vested on the electoral commission because having conducted the election; they should be saddled with the responsibility of proofing that it was credible.

He also emphasized the need for an Election Offence Commission. He said that its non-inclusion in the Senates amendments was unfortunate.

Ken Okolugbo, who had been a victim of delay in electoral justice, agreed that INEC should have a major part of the job of proving the credibility of their elections. He cited his experience in court in the process of proving the irregularities of an election but ended up having his evidences nullified despite providing proofs sourced from the internet and seen to have been valid.

Shittu also disagreed on the power given to INEC to disqualify candidates. He argued that disqualification of candidates should be based only on them having flouted certain provisions of the constitution. He believes that too much power was being given to INEC to interfere in the internal democracy of political parties.

Okolugbo, however, expressed happiness at the provision. He believes the new development means that individuals can no longer be disqualified based on mere disagreements except a court says the person was not qualified.

Another new development was that the Senate also disagreed with INEC’s plan to conduct elections in one day and Barrister Shittu agreed with the Senate’s refusal to approve this in the amendment. He referred to their decision as being realistic as they knew the challenges associated with elections in Nigeria.

Okolugbo also aligned with the view of the Senate that the INEC does not have the capacity to conduct the presidential and governorship elections in one day.

Both guests however disagreed on the decision of the Senate not to legalise political debates. While Barrister Shittu opined that democracy was about the people and they should be given the opportunity to know the programmes of candidates in any election, Okolugbo believes that although the idea was good for democracy and so could be practised, it does not have to be included in the Electoral Act.

It Is Difficult To Fault Transparency International’s Report- Legal Practioner

A legal practitioner and public affairs analyst, Mr Wahab Shittu on Monday noted that it is difficult to fault the Transparency International ratings of countries around the world except you are able to come forward with statistics showing bias in the conduct of assessments and ratings.

Speaking in reaction to the position the agency ranked Nigeria amongst the 177 countries rated in the world, Mr Shittu said “that assessment shows that our corruption performance is worse than that of last year when we scored 27 points out of a possible 100 points” revealing that “this year we scored 25 points”.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s flagship breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, he berated the fact that “we are coming down in terms of assessment”.

He listed factors considered by Transparency International as “abuse of power, secret dealings, bribery and embezzlement” adding that the “focus is on public sector corruption.

In spite of the ratings by Transparency International, Mr Shittu noted that it is imperative to assess the success achieved by anti-graft agencies especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)”.

Citing the bad reception public office holders give the ratings anytime it is released, he noted that corruption is a “global issue” and “Transparency International is a world body” insisting that it has its “own criteria”.

“In that criteria, some countries are judged the cleanest countries, so unless you can come up with statistics showing bias, it is difficult to fault what Transparency International has been doing in terms of this assessment” he said.

He also believes we need to do more particularly now that “our leaders have come forward to acknowledge that corruption is a major issue”.

Quoting from the September 2013 EFCC Report, he said “out of 368 cases that were taken to court in 2013, the EFCC was able to secure about 80 convictions” adding that “EFCC was able to make substantial (monetary) recoveries” within the period in view.

He added that the figures released by the anti- graft agency in December shows that “the EFCC has managed to secure about 1, 000 convictions” adding that the most recent is a local government chairman who was sent to six months in prison.

He however maintained that the fight against corruption “is not for the EFCC alone” insisting that “it is a collective fight”.

Mr Shittu said “whoever is responsible for underfunding the EFCC is doing a great disservice to our country” insisting that the executive and legislative arms of government should explain to Nigerians why the anti-graft agency is being starved of funds.

State of the Nation Address Seeks To Wither President’s Power

A legal practitioner; Wahab Shittu, has blamed the drafter of the State of the Nation address bill for some contravention of the bill against the constitution.

Speaking on Channels Television breakfast show Sunrise Daily, the lecturer of law with the Department of Law, University of Lagos, explained that the use of words such as ‘shall’ and ‘summon’ in some of the Act’s stipulation is geared at withering the President’s power of discretion in addressing the National Assembly as stipulated in Constitution.

He urged Nigerians not to see the lingering crisis between the Presidency and National Assembly over State of the Nation Act as a conflict, noting that the major problem with the State of the Nation bill is the way the law was drafted, as some of the bill’s stipulation is in contravention of the Constitution.

He also welcomed amendments demanded by President Goodluck Jonathan which amongst other things, seek to allow him send a representative to deliver the address if he is not disposed.

The lawyer also advised the lawmakers to probably amend the section of the Constitution which gives the President the power of discretion on the State of the Union Address before coming up with the new law which will ‘mandate’ the President on the address.

Mr Shittu said the legislative drafter who is charged with the responsibility of drafting a law must ensure that the law that he purposes to draft must not contravene in the constitutional law of the country, stating that “law must not contravene constitutional provisions.”

The lawyer added that the legislative drafter must ensure that the law which he intends to draft does not run fowl of the fundamental rights provisions of the law.

PART 2

Lawyer Says Ex-Pension Director’s Punishment Mocks Judiciary

A lawyer and lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Wahab Shittu has described the judgement delivered in the case between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and a former director in the Pension office, John Yakubu as a mockery of the judiciary.

Lawyer and lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Wahab Shittu

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr. Shittu said he was shocked when he heard that the former pension boss was handed a two-year jail term or an option of N750, 000 fine for an over N2 billion scam.

“Honestly, when I listened to that judgement, my immediate reaction was one of shock, one of disbelief, one of disappointment,” he said.

Watch video below for the complete interview:

Impeachments outside constitution is illegal – Lawyer

A legal practitioner, Wahab Shittu on Thursday said all parliaments have the right to impeach elected officials but that any impeachment done outside the constitution is illegal.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Shittu said impeachment is both a political and a legal decision.
The lawyer was answering questions on the controversial impeachment of the Speaker and principal officers of the Kogi State house of assembly on Tuesday.

Mr Shittu said: “Yes there are provisions for impeachment of certain categories of public officials in the constitution, but such impeachment must follow constitutional provision.

“In other words, for any impeachment to be valid, it must follow the prescription of constitutionality, must follow the rule of law, must follow due process, and above all must be in line with fair hearing provisions as prescribed under section 36.”

Ownership of Ibori’s $15 million bribe: Use the money to develop Nigeria, lawyer says

A legal practitioner, Wahab Shittu on Thursday said that the $15 million the former governor of Delta State, James Ibori allegedly offered the then Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu should be used to build infrastructures that will benefit all Nigerians.

According to earlier reports, Mr Ibori had offered the Money to Mr Ribadu in order to shield him (Ibori) from investigation and prosecution by the anti-graft agency. However, the EFCC boss refused to use the money but handed it over to the Central Bank of Nigeria for safe keeping hoping to use it as evidence against Mr Ibori.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Shittu described the money as illicit fund.

“Such fund can be applied for empowerment projects such as the building of schools, the improvement of education, the improvement of health service delivery, road construction that will directly benefit the citizens,” he said.