Human rights activist, Inibehe Effiong, has lambasted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for arresting some Enugu advert executives who erected two billboards bearing the EFCC’s logo. The EFCC had in a statement announced the arrest of the executives for erecting two billboards that read, ‘2023: Enugu PDP Learn From 2007 Election. EFCC is Coming With Koboko On Corrupt Candidates’.
The commission had also alleged that the advert was sponsored by a former deputy governor of the state. The anti-graft agency further claimed that the billboards “bore offensive messages”, and that it was used to “threaten the aspiration of some politicians in the state in the build-up to the 2023 general elections.”
But Effiong knocked the EFCC for arresting the advertisers, insisting that they committed no crime. The lawyer dared the commission to state the section of the law that the suspects breached. The statement read in part, “The reasons given by the EFCC for their action, in this case, are baseless, false and legally unfounded. The use of the logo or name of the EFCC is in itself not a criminal offence. There is no section of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004 that makes the mere use of the name or logo of the EFCC, without more, a criminal offence.
“Section 6 (q) of the EFCC Act provides for the functions of the commission which includes: ‘carrying out and sustaining rigorous public and enlightenment campaign against economic and financial crimes within and outside Nigeria.’
“By Section 24 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), citizens have a constitutional duty to assist law enforcement agencies in the discharge of their functions.”
Effiong said the commission should encourage and not penalise or persecute citizens, who engage in rigorous public enlightenment campaigns against economic and financial crimes.
“There is no doubt that the message on the billboards is geared towards discouraging economic and financial crimes.
“In essence, the Concerned Enugu Citizens in Scotland who sponsored the adverts are only discharging their constitutional duty. The message in the billboards is patriotic and timely,” the activist added.
The lawyer argued that those who are saying that the advert amounts to the impersonation of the EFCC are wrong. He said those who hold this view should be properly guided on the elements of the offence of impersonation.
“For the offence of impersonation to be constituted in law, there has to be a criminal intent (mens rea),” the activist maintained.
He noted that Section 484 of the Criminal Code Act specifically defines impersonation in general as follows: Any person who, with intent to defraud any person, falsely represents himself to be some other person, living or dead, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years.
“In the billboards, it is clearly written that the advert is sponsored (powered) by ‘Concerned Enugu Citizens in Scotland’.
“It is therefore illegal, mischievous and ridiculous for the EFCC to arrest the advertisement executive despite the apparent fact that the advert is not credited to the EFC