The zeal, zest and verve with which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is currently prosecuting its legitimate anti-graft duty is as marveling as it is instructive. Were its leadership new in tow with the ongoing Muhammadu Buhari storm of sacking and appointing fresh public servants, it would have been understandable. At least, every new office, especially when it is an upward movement, automatically infuses some immeasurable dose of energy and courage on the appointee to prosecute his duty, if for nothing else, to impress his benefactor.
This is a natural phenomenon. It is common place everywhere and in every office; public or private. Even in a religious group, once a new leader emerges, there is the sudden appearance of seriousness in delivering on expected mandate.
But why the born-again zeal of the EFCC is on the front burner these days is historic.
For starters, established in 2003, partially in response to pressure from the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), which named Nigeria as one of 23 countries non-cooperative in the international community’s efforts to fight money laundering, the EFCC has a statutory mission to rid Nigeria of Economic and Financial Crimes and to effectively coordinate the domestic effort of the global fight against money laundering and terrorists financing. Its vision includes inter alia, becoming an agency operating to best international standards and leading the fight against economic and financial crimes in Nigeria.
Since its inception till date, opinions are divided as to the Commission’s effectiveness in delivering on its statutory agenda. The current disposition of the agency towards its set anti-graft war is thus being seen as too refreshing to be true.
For instance, in the last one month, no fewer than six state governors that left office last May 29 alongside many other public servants, serving and retired have been arraigned in courts by the EFCC. Former Imo state governor of two Republics away, Ikedi Ohakim, through immediate past governor of Jigawa state, Sule Lamido and his two sons, to his impeached Adamawa state colleague, Murtala Nyako are among the latest “customers” of the commission who now have dates with the courts.
The same goes for former Head of Service of the Federation, Stephen Oronsaye, whose arraignment for allegedly looting N314.6million from government treasury made newspaper headlines during the week just as the case of Lamido and his two sons was transferred to Abuja from Kano. And the fact that the EFCC is still poised to continue in this vein, underlines its current resolve to carry its renewed anti-graft war through.
Queries and questions
Much as the foregoing development is welcome, not a few watchers are asking questions as to the timing of it all and to what depth can the Commission prosecute this new onslaught on alleged economic and financial criminals. No doubt, the Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde is one gentleman officer-operative that does not brook criminality. In fact, those who know him swear that he means well for the EFCC. I stand to be counted among the latter. But it beats me hollow that it took him years of unnecessary vacillation to get his rhythm right.
Today, Nigerians hold that Lamorde and his EFCC leadership are so very scared of the now famous Buhari tempest ravaging public offices and their holders that it suddenly woke up from slumber and began to do the needful. No doubt, there must be a time and season for everything. And in the case of Lamorde’s EFCC, this is the time and season to work, may be.
But even at that, methinks that the suddenness and jet speed with which the Commission is currently going about its job will not endure. It will not last long. It may die a sudden death because, the obvious breath-taking tempo with which it is going about it all would cause EFCC to gasp and then, stop to catch some air; by which time, its many high-profile alleged fraudsters being horded to the courts would have perfected their exit strategies. Thus, like their forerunners in alleged graft crimes, they could eventually get off the hook via some funny plea bargains, jumping bail or getting continuous adjournments that could rubbish the very essence of arraigning them in the first place.
On the foregoing note, I join many who wonder why EFCC’s new crusade appears to be directed at former leaders of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. What happens to the likes of immediate past Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi and former Lagos state governor, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and many of their cohorts who many observers swear must have interesting issues to resolve with the Commission? There are insinuations to the effect that the apparent non-prosecution of the Amaechis and Tinubus of this country for reasons best known to Lamorde’s EFCC must be self-serving; and it further underscores the fear that Lamorde’s men have embarked on its current razzmatazz to present a picture of effectiveness and avoid the telling effect of the ongoing Buhari tsunami. The typical Warri boy calls it Initial Gra Gra, IGG.
If this is true, it is convenient to define the Commission’s new form as very cosmetic and plastic. It reminds one of the Biblical call that unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
In this case, while the Commission is born-again in its renewed spate of arrests of alleged fraudsters, one can posit that it is only born again of water. Until the EFCC begin to arraign today’s untouchables who stole our collective tomorrow when they were in public office yesterday, no matter their status in the society and bring them to justice which must be seen to be done unlike the days of yore, it cannot be said to born again of the Holy Ghost. Bottomline is that the current EFCC crusade, inspite of the zeal of its leadership and hype it gets in the media do not qualify it to enter into the Kingdom of God; and neither will it placate the Buhari tempest that appears to be blowing from the real inside of Aso Rock Presidential Villa. What is worth doing at all, is worth doing well!