Senate berates DSS over raid of judges’ houses
Says anti-graft agencies must fight corruption as defined by law
The Senate has described last year’s invasion of homes of some judges by operatives of the Department of States Services (DSS) as an illegality. The parliament which came hard on the security agency said that there was a need for all government bodies to operate within the confines of their mandate.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki spoke at a National Dialogue on the Fight against Corruption organized by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, (PACAC) at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Represented by Senator Chukwuka Utazii, Saraki accused PACAC of supporting the adoption of extra judicial actions to fight corruption in the country.
He contended that this would make the fight against corruption unsustainable. His words; “PACAC should not lend itself to supporting extra-legal actions, if the fight against corruption will be sustained and ingrained in the body polity.
“A situation where PACAC speaks in favour of patently extra-legal means of law enforcement does not bode well for the rule of law. “The end-result of any action of government is as important as the process. The platforms for fighting corruption should not, themselves, be corrupt or be seen to be corrupted.
“The recent so-called sting operation by the Department of State Security on the residences of some very Senior Justices, some without warrants, others without any proof of incriminating body of evidence, leaves much to be desired.”
He said that even though the National Security Agencies Act of 1986 granted the DSS the mandate to act in economic crimes of national security dimension, Section 6 (c) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Act of 2004, a latter enactment, according to him, had vested the power for the co-ordination and enforcement of all economic and financial crimes laws and enforcement functions conferred on any other person or authority on the EFCC.
He said: “It is even more instructive that by Section 2 (1) (e) of the EFCC Act, the Department of State Security sits on the Board of the EFCC and could easily, in their meetings, point out the persons or bodies the EFCC needs to investigate and prosecute backed up by the evidence it had clandestinely gathered.
“That sting operation was a needless violation of our laws and an aberration that democratic society should consider anathema. “The EFCC should have been provided the necessary intelligence to execute its mandate if the evidence disclosed a prima-facie case against the Justices.”
The lawmaker also accused PACAC of blackmailing the country’s parliament as a corrupt institution saying that the development would not augur well in the fight against the menace of graft in the country.
“Certain government agencies and civil society bodies (and PACAC is not innocent of this), have formed the habit of making a scape goat of the National Assembly as a den of corruption. They deliberately cast institutions of state in unsalutary hue that is divorced from reality. It does not help in confidence building, within government and across the civil population, when institutions of state are deliberately demonised in order to put the shine on others.
“As a critical stakeholder and partner in the mandate given to PACAC, it does not feel right when you mount rostrums to say how badly the National Assembly has performed; how they have left their duties derelict and how corrupt they are. Indeed, it is counter-productive for PACAC to do so because its mandate of advising should be given across board to all arms and tiers in order to promote the effectiveness of all government institutions and strengthen anti-corruption measures in a comprehensive manner,” he said.