The acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, has said that the concept of plea bargaining is instrumental to the high rate of conviction recorded by the Commission.
“Plea bargain has boosted our conviction rate which already stands at 666 this year alone, but we have to discuss and review our plea bargain processes in line with our core values to prevent abuse and corrupt practices,” Magu said.
He made the disclosure at the opening of the “Legal Leadership Retreat” organized by the EFCC for prosecutors of economic and financial crimes, with the theme: “Promoting Synergy among Stakeholders for Effective Prosecution of Economic and Financial Crimes”, at the EFCC Academy, Karu, Abuja, on Friday.
He noted that plea bargain could not be ignored in criminal prosecution, as it is also being used in the United States, to fight corruption.
He, however, expressed reservation about the “dubious attempts” by some suspects who collude with their lawyers to distort the concept of plea bargaining as a decoy to waste the time of the process.
Magu thus charged the participants to abhor every appearance of corruption in the discharge of their prosecutorial functions.
Director, Legal, Nigerian Navy, Commodore Jamila Malafa who in her speech cited Section 1(4) (a) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap A20 LFN, 2004 as the source of the powers of the Nigerian Navy to enforce the Nigerian Maritime Laws, noted that the Navy however, lacks the power to prosecute, but relies on the EFCC and other law enforcement agencies for the prosecution of persons arrested on suspicion of crimes and illegalities at Sea.
Malafa, therefore, called for cohesion and synergy between the EFCC and the Navy.
“The Chief of Naval Staff has expressed that he is very happy and comfortable working with the EFCC,” Malafa said.
A former Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Ekpo Nta, in his paper titled, “Strengthening Cooperation and Synergy between EFCC and ICPC”, urged anti-corruption agencies to embrace collaboration in order to ensure a common narrative that reflects national interest especially during presentations at international forums.
“As a staff of EFCC and ICPC, you must be smart to study and be knowledgeable of other country’s affairs,” Nta said.
He further advocated for the adoption of a common front by anti-graft agencies to collaborate in the training of personnel, defining the roles of the internal and external press of the agencies, redefining roles of Tugar, Inter Agency Task Team, IATT, and the meeting of heads of Anti corruption Agencies, unilateral Funding for the Agencies, joint trainings and International membership of professional Associations.
Fola Worrey, while presenting a paper titled, “Improving Prosecutorial Skills and Capacity of Law Officers”, among several recommendations posited that time was of the essence in charging a matter to court.
“I advice that you do your investigation thoroughly before going to court so that there will be no need to take another dates for adjustment of charges, which will delay the trial period,” Worrey said.
In attendance were the Secretary to the EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, prosecutors from the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies including the ICPC and the Nigerian Navy.