Mahmoud: NBA to Join Fight against Corruption, seeks Reform of EFCC, Judiciary

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Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

The new President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Abubakar Balarade Mahmoud (SAN), has said the association would be involved in the fight against corruption in the country and advocated for the reform of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Judiciary.

He also said the fight against corruption could only be achieved if it was fought within the framework of the law and by strong institutions.

Mahmoud spoke yesterday while delivering his inaugural speech shortly after being sworn in as the 28th President of the NBA in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

He called for the review of the broad operations of the EFCC as an investigative and prosecutorial agency, recommending that the commission should be limited to only investigation.

His words: “The Nigeria Bar Association commits itself to the fight against corruption in Nigeria. We will put our knowledge, skills and all other resources to combat corruption and reclaim the dignity of Nigeria and Nigerians. We recognize however that the fight against corruption can only be achieved if we do so within the framework of rule of law and by strong institutions.

“The critical institutions involved must be repositioned, re-equipped and re-tooled to confront the problem of corruption on a consistent sustainable basis. As a start, we commend the efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the work it is doing and for its modest achievements.

“However, going forward, the NBA must demand the reform of the institution itself. We need to define its mandate more narrowly and more clearly. In my view, its broad operations as an investigative and prosecutorial agency should be reviewed. I recommend strongly that EFCC should be limited to investigation

“The decision to prosecute and the conduct of the prosecution must be by an independent highly resourced prosecution agency. In addition, the EFCC and the prosecution agency must be secured from political interference in their activities. There is absolutely no reason for it to report operationally or otherwise to the Presidency.”

Mahmoud stated that the NBA under his leadership would advocate for urgent reforms in the Judiciary, which would reposition the Judiciary and equip it to play its future role, pointing out that a clean, efficient knowledgeable, effective and transformative judiciary is at the foundation of building an orderly, peaceful and prosperous society.

He said: “The NBA will advocate for urgent reforms the will reposition our judiciary and equip it to play its future role. A clean, efficient knowledgeable, effective and transformative judiciary is at the foundation of building an orderly, peaceful and prosperous society.

“It is the only way we can guarantee the rule of law and an egalitarian society for our people. The notion that a judge could be bribed either by a lawyer or litigant is completely obnoxious and unacceptable. In many countries, it is unthinkable. The NBA under my watch will figure judicial corruption. We shall also make the legal profession unattractive for corrupt lawyers. We will ensure that the NBA does not become a haven for miscreant lawyers.”