The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde today called on lawyers to stand up and support the fight against corruption, as the social malaise remains the bane of Nigeria’s development. He made this call while receiving members of the Anti-Corruption Commission of the Nigerian Bar Association in his office.
While commending the NBA for the vision and courage in setting up the Anti-corruption Commission, Lamorde bemoaned the role of some lawyers in the criminal justice system in Nigeria. He stated that most of the corruption and financial crimes cases filed by the Commission are still at their plea stages many years after, owing to the activities of some lawyers, “We are ready and willing to corporate with the Commission. Your Commission has come at the right time because of the people’s perception about the role of lawyers in the course of administration of criminal justice in Nigeria. Most of the problems that people have in the course of criminal justice in Nigeria are caused by lawyers. And I think the NBA should look at it and see how these things can be addressed.”
The EFCC chairman also expressed his happiness over the activities of the Disciplinary Committee of the NBA which is working assiduously to discipline erring lawyers. He lamented that the EFCC had charged several lawyers to court and that some of them have been convicted, which does not portray the NBA in good light.
Nevertheless, Lamorde acknowledged the contributions of lawyers to the achievements so far recorded by the EFCC in the fight against corruption. “Whatever the Commission has achieved so far could not have been possible without the support and cooperation of the Nigerian Bar Association,” he said.
Yusuf Ali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Chairman of the Anti-corruption Commission of the NBA said they were in the EFCC to seek collaboration and synergy with the Commission. He enumerated several steps already taken by his Commission to erase the integrity deficit of the bar. Among them is the plan to set up a 5-man Anti-Corruption Committee in all the over 100 branches of the NBA. He said the Committee is expected to be of highest standard which will enforce professional etiquette for lawyers and curb allegations of corruption within the bar and the bench. “We are also to monitor and investigate allegations of corruption made against lawyers and people on the bench.”
He said the Commission will also organize seminars, conferences and workshops in order to raise the consciousness of lawyers to these issues.
While lamenting the mutual suspicion that dogs the relationship between lawyers and law enforcement, Ali sues for rapprochement, noting that the work of lawyers and law enforcement agencies is complimentary. He requested for the designation of a desk officer that would facilitate the cooperation between his Commission and the EFCC.
(EFCC) Media & Publicity Unit