Burden of Sincerity: Time to Restructure EFCC

Source: pointblanknews.com

Kingston Wahab
When foremost Ijaw National leader, Chief Edwin Clark called for the sack of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, not many Nigerians understood what the issues were.

Clark had called for Lamordes sack over his complicity in the $15 million bribe money allegedly offered to Mallam Nuhu Ribadu by ex-Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori.

He also demanded that the controversial money be returned to Delta state coffers, even as he lampooned the anti-graft agency for making a mockery of itself with the contradictory statements made by Lamorde and other officials in their affidavit before a Federal High Court handling the case in Abuja.

As at today, the EFCC as presently constituted cannot fight corruption because it lacks the will, courage and determination, as the James Ibori $12million bribe had revealed. The EFCC should be made of men of Honour and Probity. Despite the opinion some may hold on Ibrahim Lamorde the present Executive Chairman of the EFCC, he should be investigated for the unholy roles he had played in the James Ibori saga, the Ijaw leader stressed.

Since after the call, several other things have happened to suggest that the elder statesman may be a Prophet. From one backward step to another, the Commission has continued in error.

The first disaster is the fact that an Institution which is rated as corruption personified in Nigeria-the Police is on the driving seat of anti-corruption war in Nigeria. Over eighty percent of the present personnel of EFCC are Policemen. One keeps wondering how the devil can cast away demon. The fundamental question is- do Nigerians have confidence in the Police?

More worrisome is the fact that the Policemen receive salaries from the Nigerian Police and also take from the Commission, although, the EFCC management claims they only receive allowances from the Commission. The allowances are however far above their regular salaries. EFCC is a Commission where junior Police officers are expected to supervise senior officers simply because the Chairman is a Policeman.

The same policemen numbering over seven hundred (700), out of less than two thousand staff strength are depriving unemployed Nigerians the opportunity of being employed. Almost all heads of Departments and Units in the Commission are Policemen. They lobby and pay heavily to their commands to be posted to EFCC. Little wonder the Senate described EFCC as another arm of the Nigerian Police. One now asks- what are seven hundred Policemen doing in EFCC?

The present leadership of the Commission has on unaccountable occasions shown Nigerians that it cannot be trusted with the destiny of the citizens. It is so sectional and selective that it has failed to investigate and conclusively prosecute any elite who is found to be genuinely corrupt. El-Rufai is just a very good recent example. Governor Nyames case and several other cases of governors have not reached any conclusive judicial pronouncement because the EFCC has refused to present evidence to support those cases, among several others.

Most often than not, the EFCC creates newspaper sensations and aligns with the highest bidder in terms of how much can be extorted from them to drop the cases. Where no money is coming forth, regardless of non-existence of evidence, the EFCC will use loyalist investigators who are all personally selected from the Nigeria Police Force, regardless of their competence and level and who have been designated as Heads of Operations in all the EFCC zonal offices and in Abuja to ensure that such suspects are dealt with using all sorts of black mail and illegal detention to try to force charges on them.

Since the inception of the present administration of EFCC, how many people have been successfully prosecuted? What about the Oil-Subsidy case for which many Nigerians took to the streets in thousands? What is the situation with the cases of ex-governors and public office holders being handled by the Commission? What has the Commission done about the case of an ex-governor who got a perpetual injunction restraining the Commission from trying him? No appeal against the injunction? How many Elites have the present EFCC leadership prosecuted and successfully obtained conviction on?

Another startling fact is the issue of misappropriation and misapplication of funds in the EFCC. The level of fraud going on in EFCC is unprecedented. What a shame!

Nigerians are interested in knowing what the Commission did with the over ten billion Naira that was appropriated to it in 2013. We are also interested in knowing what it did with the one million Dollars (approximately 169,000,000million naira!!) it received from GIABA/ECOWAS institution based in Senegal allegedly for training, as well as other millions of Dollars and Pounds it got from other international donors in 2013.

Again, it is shameful that the EFCC has not accounted for the billions of Naira that were donated by the international community to enhance the performance and operations of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit through the Commission. How can an anti-corruption agency not have money to fight corruption but it has enough to bribe and spend on the Press?

There are indeed more questions than answers. How sincere is the Commission under the present leadership? Can it be trusted?

To genuinely fight corruption, this administration must determine to send all Policemen in EFCC back to the Police Barracks, and to select incorruptible and transparent Nigerians to drive the operations of the Commission.

Since the creation of EFCC, it has been from one Police leadership to another. We have tried the Police and they have failed. It is time to try other people, preferably from senior officers of EFCC after all, there is no provision in the EFCC Act that states that the EFCC must be headed by a Policeman. It is also time for Mr. President to set up a committee to review all the anti-corruption laws in order to better stream line the functions of each agency as recommended by the National Assembly.