Former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Olisa Agbakoba, (SAN) has advised President- elect, Muhammadu Buhari, to urgently address the culture of impunity that pervades the land when he assumes power on May 29 2015.
Speaking while fielding questions from newsmen recently on the agenda for the incoming administration, Agbakoba, who said, the president of Nigeria is the most powerful president in the world, also advised Buhari to enthrone institutional democracy and establish a new anti-corruption framework.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria stated that the anti-corruption agencies in the country have been rendered ineffective because they are under the control of the president who determines their control in terms of tenure of appointment, removal from office and funding.
He enjoined the Nigerian government to emulate the South African constitutional arrangement whereby key government institutions were taken away from the control of the president. This according to him, has made the institutions in South Africa so balanced.
According to him “ We need a new anti-corruption framework because the present one hasn’t worked. It caught nobody. That is what is wrong with it. EFCC has no money. EFCC is not independent. I served in the Legal Committee of the national conference and I raised unsuccessfully chapter 10 of the South African constitution which identifies institutions consolidating democracy and makes them independent of executive control in terms of tenure of appointment, removal from office and funding.”
“And I said that the EFCC is unable to exercise its prosecutorial authority independently because it is afraid of the president, though I am not talking about President Jonathan. But the EFCC is afraid because its source of money comes from the president. So, a president can cripple the EFCC. We need to have a conceptual constitutional framework for EFCC and office of Attorney-General. That is what I hope the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, can very quickly get to do”.
“The last Auditor-General who gave an account of monies in the federation was dismissed from office under president Obasanjo. An accountant –general cannot do his work well if the Minister of Finance is ordering him about. The Inspector-General of Police can’t do his work well if he is afraid of his budget”.
“These institutions were identified in South Africa and taken away from the control of the president and they report to the National Assembly for funding. This has made the South African institutions so balanced that Jacob Zuma was taken to court for rape and corruption. It can’t happen here.”
“No Nigerian president can be taken to any court under the present situation. The Nigerian president is the strongest president in the world and power not only corrupts, absolute power corrupts madly and absolutely. That is the problem. It will take an angel to be a good president in Nigeria”.
“The culture of impunity is a challenge for General Buhari. He has to reverse it and enthrone constitutional democracy. That is what Ben Nwabueze calls ‘a revocation of power’. When a constitution allows power to be revoked, that is the ultimate way that impunity can be stopped” he said.