A Bill that seeks to grant more powers to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to control the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has scaled its first reading in the Senate on July 15, 2020.
The Bill is titled: “A Bill for an Act to repeal the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 (Act NO.1 of 2004) and enact an Economic and Financial Crimes Agency Act which establishes a more effective and efficient Economic and Financial Crimes Agency to conduct inquiries and investigate all Economic and Financial Crimes and related offences and for other connected matters”.
A section of the new Bill empowers the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to “intervene in the proceedings” of the EFCC after due notification.
It also provides the EFCC shall handover to the AGF the “prosecution file” and all relevant “documents relating to any matter” on demand.
A section of the Bill reads in part: “The Attorney-General may after notifying the agency, intervene in the proceedings, at first instance or on appeal, wherein the opinion of the Attorney-General, public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process so demand.
“On receipt of the notice under subsection (2) of the section, the agency shall handover to the Attorney-General the prosecution file and all documents relating to the prosecution and provide him with such other information as he may require on the matter within the time specified by him.
“The agency shall furnish returns of all cases handled by it annually and in such manner and at such intervals as the Attorney-General shall direct. Where the agency fails to comply with the provisions of this section, the Attorney-General may, subject to prevailing circumstances, revoke the power to prosecute from the agency.
“The staff of the Prosecution Department of the agency shall be seconded or transferred from the Federal Ministry of Justice or from such other agencies or private institutions as may be approved by the Attorney-General.”
Some of the principal objectives of the Act are to: “Combat economic and financial crimes throughout Nigeria and provide for an effective punitive system.
“Combating, controlling, suppressing, and preventing economic and financial crimes.
“Raising awareness of economic and financial crimes. Taking necessary action for the prevention and investigation of economic and financial crimes, bribery, and other related cases and prosecuting those involved as provided for under the Act.
“Providing comprehensive and accurate information about nature, the extent of financial and economic crimes.”