The sudden withdrawal of the criminal charges filed against two oil companies and their directors by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,  EFCC, has attracted condemnation as lawyers have slammed the anti-graft agency and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.

The Editor of Gani Law Publications, Barrister Oluwole Kehinde,  told P.MNEWS that the EFCC is not doing its work, adding that the organization is not in anyway serious because some of the cases EFCC took to court, they were unable to get conviction.

“The EFCC operatives are policemen. Therefore when lawyers look at the cases they present, they discover that the cases don’t make sense.

“When cases are withdrawn at inception, that is better so that they don’t go ahead to embarrass themselves in the course of the trial. EFCC is clearly acting on the script  of public opinion and media hype, without carrying out proper investigation. Don’t you see the trial of ex-governor Ibori in England? Didn’t you see what the Metropolitan Police did? EFCC just want to play to the gallery and media sensation; by taking people to court,” he said.

Another Lagos lawyer, Barrister Supo Osewa agreed that the AGF is the number one legal officer and has the power to initiate and discontinue criminal proceedings.

However, Osewa said the AGF’s powers should be exercised judiciously and judicially, adding “in the case  of the oil marketers, the AGF and the EFCC are not working in tandem, if not, before  EFCC files any case against a Nigerian in the law court, proper investigation must have been carried out, proof of evidence must have been collated or a prima facie case must have been established against such persons instead of this dramatic show of embarrassing people.”A human rights lawyer, Mr. Paul Ogundele said right from the onset, the human rights community did not believe in the action of the government as they are not ready to tackle corruption.

He said, “the whole process is, fraudulent EFCC are trying people on the pages of newspapers.“Apart from petty thieves and yahoo boys that have been convicted, let EFCC come out with the list of notable or high profile cases they have initiated and secured conviction.

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“Right from the onset the human rights community have made their position known that they don’t believe in the process of prosecuting subsidy scam suspects.

“I think the unfolding scenario tilts towards that direction.”

Another lawyer, Abidemi Oladigbolu said the AGF has the constitutional power to initiate or discontinue criminal proceedings based on certain factors. He can also file nolle prosequi so far the exercise of such powers is not influenced or motivated by political reasons.It should not be based on “who you know” or “sacred cow” theories or reasons; especially judging by the dramatis personnae involved in the oil subsidy scam.

The former Secretary General of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ike Ukor also said the AGF has the power under the 1999 Constitution to take the action he took. But in exercising the power he has to do it in favour of the people and in relation to good governance.

Prominent activists also took a swipe at the Federal Government, Adoke as well as EFCC, over the shoddy manner in which they have handled marketers who were indicted in the fuel subsidy regime.The EFCC yesterday withdrew the charges it filed against Peter Mba, Pinacle Oil and Gas, Durosola Omogbenigun and Integrated Resources Limited who were charged before a Lagos

—Akin Kuponiyi, Eromosele Ebhomele & Funmi Yahaya

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