The Nation (Nigeria)

Bawa to lawyers: stop using Call to Bar certificat­es for client’s bail

- By Adebisi Onanuga

THE Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrashe­ed Bawa, has accused lawyers of frustratin­g investigat­ions by filing fundamenta­l rights suits against the commission when their clients are served with invitation letters.

“As a lawyer, you cannot stop a law enforcemen­t agency from carrying out its statutory duties,” he said.

Bawa spoke at the annual Alao Aka- Bashorun Memorial Lecture organised by Nigerian Bar Associatio­n (NBA), Ikeja Branch held at the Bar Centre as part of the activities for the associatio­n’s Law Week 2021.

Bawa, who was represente­d by the Head of the Legal Department of the EFCC, Anselm Ozioko, also told lawyers to stop staking their Call to Bar certificat­e in a desperate bid to secure bail for their clients.

He stressed that it is not the responsibi­lity of lawyers to bail suspects.

He said theirs was to recommend that someone is fit and proper to be a surety and not for them as lawyers to be playing a dual role of sureties.

Bawa, who was one of the panel members lined up for the event, spoke on the topic ‘Our Role in the Effective Implementa­tion of Nigeria’s Anti-corruption Law.’

The EFCC boss also asked members of the public to stop dragging the commission into failed business transactio­ns.

He emphasised that the commission was not a debt recovery agency.

He noted that the public had a misconcept­ion that the commission was set up for debt recovery.

He said it is time the public should stop asking the anti-graft agency to recover debts.

“I want to state with all sense of responsibi­lity that members of the public, including legal practition­ers in the course of carrying out recovery for their clients, should stop urging us (the commission) to do so.

“I must also state that in the course of investigat­ing a financial crime, it is possible that a sum of money transferre­d from the account of a nominal complainan­t, may be recovered as an exhibit.

“In certain circumstan­ces, the exhibits may be released to the complainan­t or the said exhibit will be used for the prosecutio­n of the suspect in court.

“At the end of a successful prosecutio­n, the court may grant a Restitutiv­e Order for the nominal complainan­t, in which the exhibit will be released to nominal complainan­t pursuant to the court Order,” he said.

He said that when the EFCC was approached by fraud victims, they typically expect the organisati­on to freeze bank accounts of suspects, make them forfeit their assets and release the assets to victims.

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