By S.T Yenge, Esq
By section 2 of the EFCC Act, which has to do with the composition of the Commission,there is nothing therein disqualifying any person to be appointed as the Chairman of the Commission.
The appointment pursuant to subsection 3 of the same section 2 is at the discretion of the President.
The provision does not provide that unless a person to be appointed as the Chairman of the Commission must be from law enforcement agency or security agency without exception.
The word “shall” is used in subsection (1) of section 2 which shall be construed to mean “may” because of the wide discretion created by the use of the phrase “or equivalent” without any consequences or disqualification whatsoever as stated under section 150 of the Constitution as in the case of appointment of the Attorney General of the Federation.
The word equivalent has not been defined by the EFCC Act but when the word equivalent is used as an adjective , in a legal parlance, it connotes equal in value, force, amount, effect or significance; corresponding in effect or function.
When the word equivalent is used as a noun, it connotes an element that existed before another element; can perform the same function as the other element or is recognizable as a substitute for the other element.
By the meaning of “equivalent” demonstrated above a lawyer who is not below the cognate experience of 10 years as a licensed professional is constitutionally and statutorily qualified to be appointed as the Head or Chairman of the EFCC.
The enforcement of law is the responsibility of all citizens as our criminal law system permits even private individuals to initiate criminal proceedings and even arrest suspects and hand over to appropriate government agencies.
By section 287 of the Constitution all persons are bound to enforce judgments of all courts of records.
By the word equivalent, a lawyer who is licensed by the Supreme Court of Nigeria to practice law is Nigeria which includes enforcement and security generally cannot be said in good sense of judgment , not to belong to the government security or law enforcement agency.
Even if a lawyer who studies the law more than the police officer and other security officers cannot be qualified as equivalent of the law enforcement officer or security officer, then I wander what equivalent meant in that section.
This is so because even the Police Act restricted the prosecution of cases in court to officers who must be licensed lawyers in the Force.
It is not every police officer that can prosecute criminal cases in court unless that police officer is a licensed legal practitioner.
That’s the exceptional position Nigerian law created in favour of legal practitioners.One cannot even interpret the law except he is first of all a licensed lawyer or assisted by a licensed lawyer.
The involvement of lawyers in security and law enforcement cannot therefore be overstated.
In the case of Ola OluKoyede, Esq he is over 22 years as a seasoned legal practitioner with special knowledge of the EFCC administration before his appointment which is an added advantage.
A better argument would have been that he is not competent to handle the position but the argument is that Mr president breached the law as Ola is not a police officer or from law enforcement agency or security agency without a discussion on the phrase ” or equivalent”
Which law sir? Mr President exercises his discretion appropriately and there is no sanction or preconditions for appointment of either the Chairman or the Secretary of the Commission.
It is a matter of common knowledge that the EFCC Boss is under the supervision of the Attorney General of the Federation by law.
By section 150 of the Constitution, a lawyer who is not below the age of 10 years as a legal practitioner is eminently qualified to be appointed to occupy the office of the Attorney General of the Federation who is the Chief Law officer of the federation.
Can a reasonable man applying the constitutional test argue that Ola Oluloyede is not qualified to be appointed the Attorney of the Federation?
If he is qualified to be appointed to supervise the office of the EFFCC Chairman, then is it to occupy it that he would not be qualified?
Our arguments should be based more on the capacity to deliver than relying on abstract legalism incapable of achieving our national interest.
It is therefore respectfully submitted that Mr president did not breach any law in relation to the appointment of Mr Ola Olukoyede as the EFCC Chairman.
Olukoyede is eminently qualified to occupy the office of the EFCC Chairman.
If he would have been in the Police Force as at 22years of practice he would have been above the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police.
Therefore the arguments that Ola is not statutorily qualified and the President breached the EFCC Act by his appointment are of no moment.
Chief S.T Yenge writes from Abuja.