The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday said it was not out to ridicule or impugn on the integrity of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).
It also said it did not say the whole of the NBA is populated by rogues and vultures.
The commission said it only faulted a statement credited to the NBA President, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), in order to put the nation on notice of alleged plans by some forces to frustrate the anti-graft war.
The EFCC made the clarifications in a statement by its Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren against the backdrop of the controversy which its reaction to the NBA president has generated.
The statement said: “The attention of the EFCC has been drawn to the reactions that have trailed its statement on the call by Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), recently-elected president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), that the commission should be stripped of its prosecutorial powers.
“While the reactions have been overwhelmingly positive, a few people seem to have read only the headlines of newspapers and online platforms that reported the statement.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the commission did not say the whole of the NBA is populated by rogues and vultures. The Nigeria Bar and Bench are peopled by many seasoned, upright members, who have made and are still making invaluable contributions to the fight against corruption.”
It said the timing of the NBA president’s call for the stripping of EFCC of prosecutorial powers made the motive suspicious.
The statement added: “The points being made by the commission in the statement are as follows:
“EFCC appreciates the commitment of the NBA president to fight corruption;
“EFCC appreciates the effusive praise the NBA president heaped on the commission in its inaugural address (he must have been looking at the fact that the commission is prosecuting more cases in court and has secured more convictions than the federal and all 36 states departments of justice combined);
“The NBA president’s weighty recommendation was advanced against the facts on ground and without advancing a single shred of justification;
“The call of the NBA president (including its timing and the platform at which it was canvassed) was open to speculations about the motivation behind it;
“EFCC notes the unprecedented step it has taken to help rid the judiciary of severely corrupt elements, including the investigation and prosecution of senior members of the Bar for corruption and money laundering, with several more such interventions in the pipeline;
“EFCC is of the opinion that as in several professions (including law enforcement), there are some rogue elements in the Nigeria Bar Association giving the Bar a bad name.”
The EFCC said some Nigerians had been working for the dismemberment of the commission.
It said: “There are people with vested interests who wish to dismember the EFCC and those who are hovering like birds of prey to devour the carcass of the commission.
“By way of background, then NBA president, Lanke Odogiyan (again at the Bar conference in Port Harcourt) in 2005, called for outright scrapping of the EFCC, and it took the intervention of a number of progressive lawyers, led by Chief Gani Fawehinmi, of blessed memory, to shoot down the obnoxious move;
“That failed attempt was closely followed by the move by one-time Federal Attorney-General Chief Michael Aondoakaa to bring about the same end that is today being championed by Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud.