Abubakar Mahmoud, president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), says he will not allow Ibrahim Magu, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to intimidate him.
Reacting to a statement issued by the agency in response to his inaugural address at the NBA conference in Port Harcourt, the lawyer said Magu fell short of the standards expected of a public office holder.
He accused the anti-graft czar of using abusive language, and denied the allegation that he was a counsel to James Ibori, former Delta state governor, in one of his corruption cases.
“The attention of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has been drawn to the statements issued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said to be in response to the inaugural address of the president of the NBA in Port -Harcourt, Rivers State on Friday 26th August, 2016,” read a statement, which the NBA issued on Mahmoud’s behalf.
“It has become necessary to react to the statements given its unduly harsh and negative tone totally uncalled for when in the culture of any democratic society, debates about the nature, character and responsibilities of public institutions must always be encouraged.
“In the one paragraph of the statement dealing with corrupt ion, the NBA president restated the commitment of the NBA in the fight against corruption. He commended the modest achievements of the EFCC but called for the reform of the agency to enhance its capabilities to deliver on its mandate on a ‘consistent and sustainable’ basis devoid of political interference and on the basis of well-established institutional safeguards that demand the proper regulation of the wide discretionary powers involved in the investigation and prosecution of criminal matters…
“Neither he nor his firm has ever represented the EFCC or the attorney-general of the federation or been involved in any prosecution or defense of Mr. James Ibori in any criminal matter before any court in Nigeria or outside.
“The NBA calls on the EFCC to also endeavour to get its facts correct before making statements or insinuations.”
Mahmoud said he would not bow to intimidation, emphasising that he has the constitutional rights to make recommendations about public institutions.
He added that in the past, he has expressed support for the anti-graft agency.
“The NBA constitution demands that it promotes law reform and legal development. It therefore commits itself to promoting healthy public debate about our institutions and interrogating their capabilities and performance, including ALL criminal justice agencies such as the EFCC,” the statement read.
“The NBA will not be intimidated or cowed in the discharge of this responsibility.
“The NBA condemns in the strongest terms the use of abusive and uncivil language of ‘rogues and vultures’ and such strictures by a public authority. Name calling and use of abusive language is not expected of any public institution. It is unacceptable. The NBA demands unequivocal withdrawal of this statement and an unreserved apology from the EFCC.
“The NBA President Mr. A.B. Mahmoud, SAN has over the years supported the work of the EFCC in many ways and acted as counsel in a number of matters on behalf of the organisation.”