The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has demanded an apology from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a statement credited to its chairman, Ibrahim Magu.
Magu was said to have referred to lawyers in the country as rogues and vultures, while reacting to a call by the newly inaugurated President of NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud, for the withdrawal of prosecutorial powers from the EFCC.
In a statement signed yesterday by NBA General Secretary, Isiaka A. Olagunju, the association condemned the speech, describing it as uncivil.
It also called on the EFCC to get its facts right before making statements or insinuations.
“The inaugural address of the NBA President was a statement of nearly 30 pages, which set the vision and direction of programmes for the Nigerian legal profession.
“The statement notes that the newly inaugurated president of the association, Abubakar Mahmoud, has committed himself to leading a brave new bar, fully aligned with the aspirations of Nigerians in their quest for national development, which can only be anchored on the rule of law.
“In the paragraph dealing with corruption, the NBA president restated the commitment of the body in the fight against corruption. He commended the modest achievement of the EFCC? but called for reform of the agency, to enhance its capability to deliver on its mandate on a constant and sustainable basis.
“The reform should be one that is devoid of political interference and on the basis of well established institutional safeguard that demands proper regulation of the wide discretionary power involved in the investigation and prosecution of criminal matters,” said Olagunju.
“The NBA condemns in the strongest term the use of the abusive and uncivil language of ‘rogues and vultures?’. Name-calling and abusive language is not expected of any public institution. It is unacceptable,” he added.
The EFCC, last week, had alleged the Bench was populated by unscrupulous elements, stressing that such people could not sit in judgment over others or command their respect.
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said the call by Mahmoud was self-serving, aimed at creating “a cabal of untouchables, since some of the country’s senior lawyers are currently undergoing trial for cases of corruption.”
The anti-graft agency vowed there would be no sacred cows in its bid to stamp out corruption in the country.
“It is too much of a strange coincidence that the suggestion to strip the EFCC of its prosecutorial powers is being floated few months after the commission, in unprecedented fashion, arraigned some senior lawyers for corruption,” the EFCC statement reads.