Anti-Graft War: US Canvasses More Powers for EFCC
The American government has canvassed for more powers for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission , EFCC to enable it overcome the current challenges of fighting graft in the country.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria , Mr. Terrence Mcculley who made the call on Thursday December 16, 2010 while on a courtesy visit to the EFCC chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri , also assured the anti-graft agency of more support from the US government to facilitate the discharge of its responsibilities.
While acknowledging the pivotal role the EFCC has to play in the economic development of Nigeria , the envoy said appropriate legislations must be put in place to enable the Commission succeed in the arduous task of fighting corruption both in high and low places.
According to him, 'I want to use this courtesy visit to clarify some things. We are grateful for the cooperation we have had with the EFCC, particularly in the area of cybercrimes and in hosting the FBI when it had its training activities here in Nigeria .
'EFCC is at critical point. The issue of public and private corruption is perhaps one of the most pernicious elements in any society and I believe it is one of the most critical areas to a long term economic health and stability of this country
'Pernicious because public corruption damages any economy and it undermines the entrepreneurs and investors to compete. It is pernicious because public corruption undermines the population's confidence in its leaders and it creates the impression that the leaders are pursuing selfish interests.
'Therefore it creates a gap between government and the people, who feel that their leaders will not necessarily respond to their concerns. And therefore the work of the EFCC to root out corruption at all levels is a very significant one and it must be a neutral institution.
'I am a strong supporter of legislation which allows you to pursue individuals, high and low, who engage in corruption. The environment they provide must give you the tools to effectively do your job. The US has been a supporter of the EFCC since its inception going by the cooperation we have enjoyed over the years. We will do our best to support you.
He said all the needed support must be given to the anti - graft agency because of the dangers posed to the Nigerian Society and indeed the global community by the menace of corruption.
' We are prepared as friends of Nigeria and the EFCC to discuss future assistance and support for the EFCC. We will do our best to support the EFCC and its work by providing technical assistance. Nigeria needs such institutions like the EFCC to grow', he added
While expressing the American government interest in the 2011 elections in Nigeria , the envoy warned that state institutions like EFCC should not be used to support ant party or candidate during elections. He urged the Commission to be neutral in the discharge of its responsibilities.
His words, ' Nigeria is facing a critical stage of elections in its history next April. There will be general elections for the National Assembly, governors and the presidency next April. The United States is following the process with the rest of the international community.
We are strongly in support of a credible and a transparent process from the party primaries to the general elections. I think it is very important that all Nigerians participate in large numbers in this election.
'Equally important is that the institutions of the state maintain neutrality , that such institutions will not be used to support any particular political party or candidate. The EFCC must be neutral and independent as well so that it can effectively play its roles. ' Speaking earlier, the EFCC boss said the Commission has enjoyed enormous support from the federal government in the discharge of its duties without any hindrance. She said this has within a space of seven years helped the EFCC to make 'recoveries of over $11 billion and secured over 400 convictions.'
Waziri said though the US government has supported the EFCC over the years, there is the need to do more to sustain the gains already attained.
The envoy was accompanied on the visit by Diane Kohn, Anti-Crime Officer, US Embassy in Nigeria while the EFCC chairman was joined by top officials of the agency including Emmanuel Akomoye, secretary to the Commission; Ibrahim Lamorde, Director of Operations and Bolaji Salami, Director of Organisational Support among others.