Recently, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria resolved to probe Nigeria’s leading anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The reason borders on the allegation that the commission has not been transparent in its management of funds or lots it has been recovering from corruption suspects. CHIOMA IRUKE examines the situation
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was established in 2003 by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo. Its mission was 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.
Since its establishment, the EFCC has addressed financial corruption by arresting, prosecuting and convicting offenders, including highly profiled individuals in the country, e.g. former governor of Bayelsa, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, and ex-Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun.
Recently, the EFCC was petitioned by one anti-corruption crusader, George Uboh. His petition led to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to Probe the EFCC chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, over allegations that he fraudulently diverted over 1 trillion naira proceeds of corruption recovered by the anti-graft agency.
The fraud allegedly perpetrated by Larmode is said to have dated back to his days as the director of Operations of the EFCC between 2003 and 2007, as well as acting chairman of the commission between June 2007 and May 2008, when the then chairman of the anti-graft agency, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, was away for a course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos.
The probe on the EFCC chairman has led to divisions in the Senate, as the PDP caucus rejected this probe in a statement signed by the minority leader, Mr. Godswill Akpabio. Part of the statement released to the press read thus: “The PDP leadership in the senate is not against any committee of the Senate performing its oversight duties and or functions, but we feel that this is not the appropriate time to embark on the most important assignment particularly since the same action was mooted and had failed at previous plenary session. We therefore urge the committee to suspend its public hearing on this particular matter until further notice.”
With the agency whose vision is operating to best international standards and leading the fight against economic and financial crimes in Nigeria being probed, what then is the nation’s fate for a corrupt ion-free Nigeria?
A few concerned Nigerians who spoke to Nigerian Pilot gave their opinions on the matter.
A youth corps member named Ndubisi Godwin said “EFCC cannot account without a proper documentation. And they should be probed due to lack of documentation. They claimed to have been recovering a lot of money from Nigerians especially high ranked individuals in the country who duped the country of millions. If they cannot give a prober account of these looted funds then it is very possible that the money has been diverted.”
For Mr. Godspower Emuerhi, the probe is part of a ploy by the Senate to prevent the EFCC from effectively caring out its duties.
“The corruption fight is advantageous to Nigerians but I am not in support of the EFCC being probed. The reason the Senate is probing the EFCC is because they would get involved, especially when they begin questioning past leaders with the way things are going. As such they are trying to limit their powers; this probe is just some of their plot. They are senators and they can amend the law as much as they wish and this is just one of their plots against the EFCC.”
A secondary school teacher in Delta State, Mr. Toju Okotie believes that if the EFCC were fighting corruption then it was to have a very clean record.
“The EFCC are fighting corruption they are not to be involved in corruption at all. “I believe that they are 90% corrupt because most of the money they claim to have recovered cannot be accounted for. If indeed they are not corrupt as they claim, then they should come out and face the panel which means that there is no skeleton in their closet and there is nothing for them to hide.”
Responding to the statement published by the PDP faction of the Senate, he said “those who are saying that the EFCC should not be probed should have a genuine reason for it. One of the reasons the PDP gave is that if the probe is on it would serve as a distraction to the government and therefore prevent the government from carrying out any of its intended policies or the basic things they were supposed to do.
“On the other hand they were the ruling party at the time the alleged looted money was diverted. It is possible they are afraid that the investigation would affect some of their members in the senate and their secrets would be exposed and it is also possible that they want the probe to be postponed so that they would gain more time to re-strategise their plans.
“Yes I believe the probe should be carried out immediately and not postponed.”