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Cablegate: Rnleo Meeting with Icpc Chairman

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 000936

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR INL/AAE-EFLOOD, AF/W AND PM


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KCRM PGOV EAID NI MMAR
SUBJECT: RNLEO MEETING WITH ICPC CHAIRMAN


1. RNLEO met with the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt
Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC),
Justice Mustapha Akanbi, on May 20 to discuss the status of
the ICPC in light of the recent actions by the National
Assembly.


2. Justice Akanbi told RNLEO that he has been working from
his home to avoid a conflict with the court that ordered
all parties to maintain the status quo in response to a law
suit filed by several legislators seeking to overturn the
newly enacted 2003 Anti-Corruption Law. Akanbi noted that
press coverage indicating that the President vetoed the new
legislation was not accurate. He explained that the
President was complying with the court order to "maintain
the status quo" until the court had time to rule on the
merit of the lawsuit against the National Assembly
leadership. Justice Akanbi stated that he did not want to
appear to be doing anything contrary to the court order.
Therefore, he was working from his home.


3. Akanbi stated, until the matter is settled by the court,
ICPC cannot investigate nor arrest. In fact, to avoid
problems for his staff, they occasionally meet at his home
to get instructions and guidance for their daily
responsibilities. The major issue is whether the court has
jurisdiction over a case involving laws passed by the
National Assembly or not. Akanbi said that the Chief Judge
of the Federal High Court came to Abuja from Lagos to hear
the case personally. The next hearing is on Thursday and
all parties have been given strict instructions leading
Akanbi to believe that the matter could be settled in the
next two to three weeks. (Note: During proceedings on May
19, the court rejected the Governments motion to set aside
the new amendment but scheduled further hearings for May 22.
(End Note)


4. Justice Akanbi stated that the President was very
worried over this issue and feared that Akanbi would
resign. He said the President prevailed upon him not to
resign because of the signal it may send to the nation and
the international community. Akanbi assured RNLEO that he
plans to keep working until the matter is resolved. He
expressed confidence that the case would be settled in
favor of the original Anti-Corruption Act because the
attorney handling the case for the Presidency is the same
attorney that handled the ICPC constitutionality case and
won.


5. Akanbi observed that only the Minister of Transport
expressed public support for the ICPC. He said that if the
courts rule in favor of the ICPC, he plans to run a program
to educate the public about the differences in the Anti-
Corruption Act of 2000 and the recently passed bill.
On one specific element of the new law, Justice Akanbi
stated that he could not imagine a serving judge on the
Appellate Court who would accept an appointment to the
Commission.


7. Akanbi also asked about the U.S. position on the events
surrounding the ICPC. RNLEO reiterated the position taken
by the Ambassador in a previous meeting that the U.S. could
not support the ICPC as proposed by the law recently passed
by the National Assembly because it was clearly designed to
further the goals of a few corrupt legislators. In addition,
RNLEO advised Justice Akanbi that the ICPC assistance package
from OPDAT, signed in March 2003 was designed for the Commission
as formed by the Anti-Corruption Act of 2000 and could not
proceed until it is clear that the integrity of the
Commission is assured. Justice Akanbi understood and
agreed saying, he too could not serve on a Commission as
proposed by the new law either.


8. The fate of the ICPC should become clearer after the
hearing on May 22, and will be reported SEPTEL.


JETER

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