EFCC is not a Debt Recovery Agency— Justice Sidi Bage

 

EFCC is not a debt recovery agency
Justice Sidi Bage

In DIAMOND BANK PLC v. H.R.H. EZE (DR) PETER OPARA & ORS (2018) LPELR-43907(SC), the Supreme Court declared that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  [EFCC] is not a debt recovery body.

“It is important for me to pause and say here that the powers conferred on the 3rd Respondent, i.e the EFCC to receive complaints and prevent and/or fight the commission of Financial Crimes in Nigeria pursuant to Section 6(b) of the EFCC Act (supra) does not extend to the investigation and/or resolution of disputes arising or resulting from simple contracts or civil transactions in this case. The EFCC has an inherent duty to scrutinize all complaints that it receives carefully, no matter how carefully crafted by the complaining party, and be bold enough to counsel such complainants to seek appropriate/lawful means to resolve their disputes.

What is even more disturbing in recent times is the way and manner the Police and some other security agencies, rather than focus squarely on their statutory functions of investigation, preventing and prosecuting crimes, allow themselves to be used by overzealous and/or unscrupulous characters for the recovery of debts arising from simple contracts, loans or purely civil transactions. Our security agencies, particularly the police, must know that the citizenry’s confidence in them ought to first be ensured by the agencies themselves by jealously guarding the integrity of the uniform and powers conferred on them.
The beauty of salt is in its taste. Once salt loses its own taste, its value is irredeemably lost. I say this now and again, our security agencies, particularly the police, are not debt recovery agencies.

The agencies themselves need to first come to this realization, shun all entreaties in this regard and they will see confidence gradually restored in them. Where we are now in this country is that place where our “Men in black & blue” command almost no respect from the citizenry because of how low we have sunk. But it is my belief which belief, I must say I hold very dearly, that all hope is not lost, many women and men of deep integrity are in our security agencies, and they only need to rise now to the occasion.” Per BAGE, J.S.C. (Pp. 18-30, Paras. B-B)

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