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EFCC disturbed over lawyers poor commitment to cases - Trial of banks’ chiefs

EFCC disturbed over lawyers poor commitment to cases - Trial of banks’ chiefs Strong indications emerged yesterday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is disturbed over alleged poor commitment

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قديم 05-24-2012, 07:37 PM
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افتراضي EFCC disturbed over lawyers poor commitment to cases - Trial of banks’ chiefs

EFCC disturbed over lawyers poor commitment to cases - Trial of banks’ chiefs

Strong indications emerged yesterday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is disturbed over alleged poor commitment to the Trial of former Chief Executive Officers of nine distressed banks by its counsel.

The commission may be forced to withdraw the service of such counsel from its brief, it was gathered.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the EFCC Review Team had uncovered alleged poor handling of the Trial of 13 former bank executives.

It was learnt that although the EFCC had investigated and arraigned the suspects in court, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is overseeing the payment of the legal fees.

But it was gathered that the EFCC is unhappy that some counsel have been paying lip service to the Trial of these bank chiefs.

A source said: “A study of the cases by our Review Team has shown that some of the reversal of fortunes being suffered in court had to do with mishandling of cases against ex-bank chiefs on Trial by counsel.

“No one in the management of the EFCC is happy about this development where cases are thrown out on avoidable technical grounds.

“Yet, it has been difficult for the EFCC to call some of these lawyers, including a few Senior Advocates to order because the anti-graft agency is not paying their bills.

“But the EFCC is getting the backlash for setbacks recorded in court as if the commission is compromising or deliberately frustrating the Trial of these former bank chiefs.”

The source added: “We have reached out to some of the counsel to sit up or else we may be forced to withdraw their service.

“We may resort to drastic action if apathy towards the Trial of these ex-bank chiefs continues.”

Asked why the CBN is footing EFCC’s legal bill, the source said: “The Trial of these former bank chiefs was a consequence of CBN reform and it offered to bear the cost.

“The issue is really not about legal fees because the CBN has never defaulted but it has to do with lack of diligent prosecution by some counsel.

“We are certainly worried as a commission because some issues raised by the court to reject some applications by some of our counsel revealed untidiness.

“But the EFCC is made the scapegoat for these lapses. Also, public opinion weighs heavily against the commission.”

Even a judge of the Federal High Court flayed the EFCC lawyers for failing to dutifully prosecute a case.

The CBN had in August 2009 sacked some bank Executives following Audit the Records of the affected banks.

The audit exercise had indicted the banks of allegedly accumulating margin loans of N500 billion which had gone bad and eroded shareholders’ funds.

The CBN said the decision was taken to safeguard the financial sector from systemic collapse.

But barely two and a half years after the removal of the bank chiefs, only one has been convicted through plea bargaining.

Yesterday, EFCC chair Ibrahim Lamorde condemned the high rate of connivance between some professionals and fraudsters in the country to commit economic crimes

Lamorde spoke while receiving a delegation of Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) led its President Segun Ajanlekoko, in Abuja.

He said: “Most of the corrupt cases we encounter are aided by one professional or another. In money laundering for example, bankers and accountants are involved, in estate and property- related crimes, quantity surveyors are also involved,” he said.

“You should identify bad eggs in your fold and sanction such people. It is not in all cases that people steal raw cash but in some instances rely on professionals to doctor documents that will aid them in perpetrating corrupt acts.”

He reassured the association of the Commission’s willingness to collaborate with it especially on some of its investigations that require professional input.

Lamorde urged Nigerians to resist the temptation of adopting what he called ‘I don’t care attitude’ whereby they feel corruption is either the fight of anti-graft agencies or is too big a problem to be tackled by an individual.

“The crusade should not be limited to stolen monies but to other corruptive practices. It should equally cover policies which are endemic and even more dangerous,” he said.

He said the Association, which is made up of twenty-six (26) professional bodies that are chartered and recognised by Acts of Parliament, would help EFCC in its fight against corruption.

He urged the management of EFCC to avail its staff of management training programmes and to support the APBN Foundation which is aimed at promoting best practices, good corporate governance and capacity building among corporate and educational entities.

Ajanlekoko was accompanied on the visit by Ramatu Aliyu, Chairman, Abuja Chapter; Mrs. Beatrice Oji, Treasurer, Abuja Chapter and Adebayo B.A., National Secretary, among others.

EFCC disturbed over lawyers poor commitment to cases - Trial of banks’ chiefs

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