SERAP asks Buhari to end obstruction of justice by SSS, NIA officials

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SOCIO-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has condemned the “face-off between Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, officials and officials of the State Security Service, SSS, and National Intelligence Agency, NIA, as counter-productive to the fight against grand corruption. Thus, it asked President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently “instruct the leadership of the SSS and NIA to allow anti-corruption agencies to carry out their mandate without any interference whatsoever.”

In a statement issued on Wednesday, November 22, and signed Timothy Adewale, SERAP deputy director, the organisation said that: “Preventing the arrest of a former Director-General of the Department of State Services, Mr. Ita Ekpeyong; and a former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ayo Oke so that they are unavailable to answer the charges of corruption against them amounts to abuse of power and obstruction of justice.”

The organisation noted that the EFCC officials tried to arrest Oke and Ekpeyong from their homes, but were resisted by armed security agents of the two agencies.

SERAP argued that preventing the arrest of the two former government officials was in violation of Nigerian law and international standards such as the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.

The statement read in part: “Nothing more fundamentally undermines public confidence in the fight against grand corruption and trust in government than to see state security agencies paid for by public funds apparently aiding and abetting those suspected of engaging in corruption to escape justice.”

“Obstructing the work of anticorruption agencies is a text-book case of interference with the orderly administration of law and justice, which can send a particularly damaging message that the government may not be truly committed to the fight against corruption.

“This may in turn affect the government’s whistle-blower policy and discourage the public from coming forward and providing the authorities with useful evidence of grand corruption.”

It said that by moving to stop the behaviour of the SSS and NIA officials, Buhari would be making a statement that under his watch those accused of “grand corruption would not be allowed to circumvent the law no matter their status in the society.”

It said, if on the other hand the president refuses to act, it would also suggest that officials of the SSS and NIA were trying to cover up allegations of corruption against their officials. “Fighting corruption is not just for the EFCC alone or any corruption-specific mandate agencies but it is for all state security officials and law enforcement agencies to cooperate and work together to support the government to achieve its oft-repeated commitment to combat grand corruption and impunity of perpetrators. Buhari must wade in to end this face-off if his government is to successfully stop the spread of corruption in the country and protect the integrity and authority of anti-corruption agencies,” the statement said.

 

– Nov 22, 2017 @ 17:38 GMT |

 

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