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Aondoakaa: ICPC, EFCC Overlap In Functions, They Need To Be Streamlined

“The constitution is very explicit that you arrest and charge somebody to court within 24 hours or at maximum, 48 hours.”

Michael Aondoakaa, the former attorney general and minister of justice, has said that he shares the same opinion with Lateef Fagbemi, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a ministerial candidate, who suggested that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should be merged for a more effective fight against corruption in Nigeria.

In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Thursday, Aondoakaa said that the two agencies had overlapping functions which often led to misunderstanding, as one agency could be doing the job of the other at times, and it was better for them to be streamlined for them to work together harmoniously. 

He said, “If you go to the issue of measure of the agencies, there seems to be serious overlaps in the functions of ICPC and EFCC. Serious overlaps in their functions. And we felt there was need to streamline them so they can function harmoniously. Most of the offenses sometimes fall within the category of ICPC that they are taking to EFCC. And when you prosecute and you get to a certain stage in court, you say no, this is not a money laundering matter. 

“So, these are the things that I think are agitating his mind. It actually agitated me. I have felt the need to streamline the functions so that there will be no overlaps, and if we discover that the one single agency will carry out the functions more efficiently, so be it.”

Still speaking on Fagbemi’s views and how he spoke on human rights in the constitution, Aondoakaa said, “What he said is essentially what I went through during President Yar’Adua. When I came in, I came in from private practice just like he came in. And looking at the constitution, we felt that people’s liberty is very important, and the constitution only gives windows in which those rights can be taken away, especially when it comes to prosecution, arrest, the constitution is very explicit that you arrest and charge somebody to court within 24 hours or at maximum, 48 hours. 

“So, we felt that, if that, my understanding, which I am happy and lucky that somebody of his statute is corroborating, is that investigation should be done, and by the time you are preparing to arrest, you should be ready to charge that person to court. It was my thinking, and then his thinking now, that investigation should be done, Investigation should not necessarily entail arrest. You can carry out your investigation. By the time you are already set, but it may look somehow to arrest somebody, detain him for a long time, that you are carrying out the investigation. That will certainly be a violation of the constitution and that’s what he’s saying.”

He however, said that the Department of State Services (DSS) did not violate the constitution as he said, “They must have had charges before they got the arrest.” He went on to say that although he agreed with Fagbemi’s views on immediate charge to court after the arrest of an individual, “that does not mean that when you arrest somebody and take him to court, finish your investigation and take him to court, you have violated the constitution.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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