The news hit the polity with a jolt on Friday when the Buhari-led government announced the constitution of a 20-man committee on prosecution of high profile criminal cases. The body to be known as National Prosecution Coordination Committee (NPCC) is to be headed by Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami.
In inaugurating the committee, Vice President Osinbajo said, “When you look at the way that the EFCC and other law enforcement agencies have acted in recent times you will notice that they are not under any kind of direction or influence of the President. They are given the independence to act; they are given the authority and backing to act on their own and to use their own discretion appropriately at all times.”
RIPPLES NIGERIA investigations, however, show that President Buhari may have hurriedly put the body together out of frustration and rising concerns that his government is increasingly being perceived as holding political detainees under the guise of fighting corruption.
A source close to the presidency, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “The president is very frustrated at the seeming slow administration of justice. There are no convictions yet nearly after one year.
“Worse still, he is disappointed with the many gaps created by the prosecution agencies. I do not want to mention names here but there seem to be too many loopholes that could make it possible for high profile criminals to walk away from justice.”
The inauguration of the NPCC came on the same day that the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led a handful of its staff and Nigerians on a ‘Walk Against Corruption’ in the nation’s capital, Abuja. Critics have since dubbed the show an image laundry exercise intended to legitimize the arrest and unlawful detention of alleged criminals.
A senior member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), speaking on the developments alleged a hidden agenda in the creation of NPCC.
Said he, “We see through Buhari’s desperate moves. He is unsettled the way the regular courts and other legal institutions are discharging their responsibilities. He has not hidden his quest for more powers to act outside the regular courts. We may be headed towards serious dictatorship”
He added, “With NPCC, it simply means that Buhari has condemned ICPC, CCT and even EFCC as failures in prosecuting alleged cases of high profile corruption before them. He wants ‘perceived enemies of state’ jailed without due process.
“Ultimately, his intention might be to set up special courts to try the likes of Dasuki, Metuh, Fani-Kayode, Nnamdi Kanu, and Nigerians must demand explanations from the APC government.”
Speaking further, he said, “We have taken note that while Professor Itse Sagay’s committee would recommend arrests, NPCC will advise on prosecution.”
Osinbajo, however, erased any fears about government intentions at the inauguration ceremony saying, “It is a very serious responsibility because it also involves making sure that people are treated fairly or that people are not pursued by reason of bias or any other such consideration.’’