By Abba Dukawa
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of other laws and regulations relating to economic and financial crimes, including: Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act (2004), The Money Laundering Act 1995, The Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004, The Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offenses Act 1995, The Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act 1994, The Banks and other Financial Institutions Act 1991; and Miscellaneous Offenses Act.
Since the Commission was established, it has had four chairpersons, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (2003 – 2007); Mrs. Farida Waziri (May 2008 – November 23, 2011); Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde (November 23, 2011 – November 9, 2015) and Ibrahim Magu who was appointed on November 9, 2015.
Is it a coincidence for all the chairmen of the commission to have one thing common the controversies trailed either their appointments or performances in office? Curiously, they were all alleged to have abused their office with some doses of corrupt practices.
The commission was pioneered by Malam Nuhu Ribadu but sacked by President Yar’adua and was alleged to have been involved in the abuse of human rights of suspects among other things and was not only removed from office but demoted from the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police to Commissioner of Police. Former President Jonathan claimed that Farida Waziri was removed from office in the national interest. However, it was also alleged that Waziri might have compromised the investigation into financial misappropriation against a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Timipreye Sylva, and that of former Edo State governor, Lucky Igbinedion.
Ibrahim Lamorde was also accused of diverting over N1 trillion recovered from the sale of confiscated properties belonging to convicted officials including the late Alamieyesiegha, and Tafa Balogun, a former Inspector-General of Police. The Senate, alleging that Lamorde failed to remit more than N2.05 trillion, being funds recovered from corrupt leaders but the three chairmen of the commission had denied all the allegations and also none of them taken to the court of law to prove their innocence.
Even before Magu was sacked, he claimed EFCC recovered N504,154,184,744.04 but the actual bank lodgments were N543,511,792,863.47. These inconsistencies cast a serious doubt on the accuracy of figures submitted by the EFCC as it cannot fully account for cash recoveries it made.
The suspended EFCC boss [Ibrahim Magu] is expected to disclose the whereabouts of the missing interest funds running into billions of naira as he now faces justice Ayo Salami (Rtd)/Presidential Investigation Committee currently probing all allegations against him.
Twice, the Presidency forwarded Magu’s name for confirmation and was rejected by the Senate, many Nigerians saw the rejection as result of power tussle between Presidency and the Senate leadership then but the Upper Chamber reliantly rejected him based on the reports by Lawal Daura, former Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS). In the DSS report, Magu was accused of corruption and “gross violation of human rights”. He was also alleged to be in possession “of undeclared pieces of property. With recent suspensions of Magu, both 8th Upper Chamber and Lawal Daura are vindicated.
Before the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF) forwarded a memorandum to the president, he had asked the President to sack the chairman of the commission on several grounds “ranging from diversion of recovered loot to insubordination and misconduct. Already, in the final report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) that covered May 29, 2015, to November 22, 2018, had also confirmed the concerns of the public about the contradiction in the recovered funds by Magu led EFCC. Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) in its investigative reports on EFCC’s activities exposed acts of corruption and money laundering against some EFCC officials.
For the administration to combat corruption in line with the commissions act, there is need for comprehensive National Anti-Corruption Strategy based on the rule of law, separation of powers, neutrality and non-partisanship drives. The government should rigorously lay solid foundation to support and transform the capacity of the criminal justice system to deal with corruption and corrupt practices in a more efficient and effective way.
The nation’s criminal justice needs reform which will deal with current reality on the war on corruption and the judiciary should be strengthened in line with the administrations derived war on corruption. To achieve a just and fair crusade, it is essentially important for a clearing house for speedy prosecution of Corrupt Cases where anti-corruption agencies are totally independent from government interference and control, delineation of the functions of the ICPC, EFCC, CCB, CCT and other law enforcement agencies in more dignifying ways to improve the services of the agencies optimally.
It is important to overhaul the ICPC, EFCC, CCB, CCT and other law enforcement agencies; as Nigerians in respect of social status seeing the nation’s anti-corruption agencies as a willing tool to dealt with perceived enemies of the government in power and it being run in nepotism, partisanship and lack of political will and the impartiality to deal decisively with corruption cases.
There is clear absence of coordination and intelligence sharing between ICPC, EFCC, CCB, CCT and other security agencies. There is no convincible pointer to the efforts of achievements because none of the former Chairman of the commission was not being accused from a case of corruption or selective in discharging his/ her duties, this has led to frustration amongst Nigerians with the slow pace of progress and the selective nature of the fight.
For the government and its ant- corruption agencies to achieve just and fair fight against corruption, it needs to make perpetrators of corruption serve as deterrents to others, and anti-corruption agencies require ensuring adequate punishment is meted out to whoever is caught. For the chief executive offices of ICPC, EFCC, CCB, CCT should have a similar passion for the war and to work with other anti-graft agencies whose intend is to work and scheme a positive image for the war. While those that are sheep in the wolf skin within the commission be sent away.
Unless all these changes are made will it disabuse the minds of all Nigerians from seeing the Commission as an agency that act according to the script, and do the needful in building public confidence in the possibility and realization of commissions dream in prosecuting a total war without selective approach.
Dukawa can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org