EFCC Overburdened By Several Corruption Cases | Independent Newspapers Limited
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EFCC Overburdened By Several Corruption Cases

Posted: Jul 10, 2016 at 3:13 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is arguably the most active organ of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. Ever since his campaign days as candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), the Army General turned politician had left no one in doubt that his premium project was going to be the battle against all forms of corrupt practices that had eaten deeply into the fabric of the nation.

What is clear since Buhari took over the reins of governance on May 29, 2015 is that he has energised the anti-graft agency to pursue with all vigour anyone who may have helped himself or herself into the nation’s till and made away with traceable public funds.

For the EFCC it has not been a mean task – given the large army of high profile persons in politics, in the civil, banks and the military who have been indicted with taking huge sums of money and at the moment are either turning in the stolen funds or being held in various detention facilities as the cases against them are being treated. True to the renewed mandate, the anti-graft agency has arrested several people, recovered good sums of ill-acquired money and preferred charges against the indicted persons in the law court. And the EFCC fight is obviously doing its battle from almost a million fronts.

Looking beyond the surface, however, it won’t be a misplaced perception to see the current wave of EFCC’s pursuit of perceived looters and the hordes of cases being prosecuted in several courts across the country as a huge load that will break the legs of the agency and render it less mobile as had been the case since the past administrations. Several cases that were started since the days of former President Olusegun Obasanjo between 2003 and 2007, all through the successive governments till 2015 when former President Goodluck Jonathan bowed out for President Buhari, remain undecided. There EFCC is burdened with no less than 200 of such idle cases. Several people against whom the agency preferred such cases have found their way back in government, mostly as elected representatives in the National Assembly.

Opinions are divided over the ability of the commission to live up to its expectations in successfully prosecuting the many corruption cases in Nigeria.

There are instances that some cases that started more than ten years ago are yet to be successfully concluded which has made people to believe that the commission is only a political tool in the hand of the ruling government. At the twilight of Obasanjo’ government in 2007, the then chairman of EFCC Mallam Nuhu Ribadu disclosed that about 30 governors in the country were undergoing investigation by the anti-graft agency. Some of the indicted governors are currently in the National Assembly while some others are top leaders of the ruling APC.
Since that time, Nigerians are yet to see any successful prosecution of those alleged to have corruptly enriched themselves using the government resources.

President Muhammadu Buhari during the presidential election campaign promised to fight corruption to a standstill. He said: “If we don’t kill corruption in Nigeria, corruption will kill us. So, the choice before us is to resolve to kill corruption and free our country from the firm grip of corrupt men and women.”

The expectation was high that the war against corruption would be fought with all vigour and sincerity. There was suggestion that a special court should set up to handle corruption cases judging by the long period taken to investigate and prosecute suspects. However, a lot of Nigerians believe so far EFCC has not been effective in fighting the war judging by the promise made earlier on.

Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, executive director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) told Independent that the agencies fighting corruption in the country needed to be overhauled because experience had proved that it has become agency of manipulation by the ruling government in power .

On its part, One Voice, a coalition of civil society groups, suggested the complete independence of anti graft agencies so that they would be able to do the work effectively. They regretted a situation where the appointment and the budget and the tenure of the head of the agencies like EFCC and ICPC are tied to the control of executive power would hinder the effective performance of the important agencies.

Several groups especially those from the opposition parties have branded EFCC as a tool of the ruling APC to wreck opposition parties and perceived enemies of the government.   For instance,  the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  on several occasions  have challenged the EFCC to also go after the corrupt leaders and members of the APC.

Prince Uche Secondus, former acting national chairman of PDP, made the demand while receiving a delegation of PDP in the senate at Legacy House, Abuja. Secondus, who called for President Buhari’s intervention, said that the anti-graft agency was only going after PDP members in its anti-corruption war leaving those who served under APC uninvestigated.

He said, “So far, statistics has shown that EFCC has only arrested members of our party, those who have served in previous government. “But there are APC governors and members, who have served various governments, they have been left alone. “We believe that a government that is serious with anti corruption crusade cannot be one sided or selective. It should be holistic,’’ Secondus said. He called on the EFCC to also investigate APC governors rather than targeting only PDP ex-governors and ex-ministers. “We have seen on the pages of newspapers allegation from Lagos and Rivers states on the ex-governors. What is EFCC doing to those allegations? ” Secondus asked.

Delivering the keynote speech at a round table on “Winning the War Against Corruption” in Lagos, recently , Mr. Femi  Falana, human rights lawyer,  said the Federal Government is not winning the war against corruption in the country.
“Apart from the class solidarity usually extended to politically exposed persons by judges in all capitalist societies, the situation is compounded in Nigeria by judicial corruption and professional misconduct on the part of senior lawyers involved in the defence of corruption cases.

“Owing to lack of coordination in the trial of politically exposed persons, corruption is fighting back. Painfully, the Federal Government is on the defensive as it has failed to counter the deliberate manipulation of the criminal justice system by the indicted looters of the public treasury”, Falana said. He further explained that the Federal Government was yet to understand that the anti-corruption battle could not be won through regular courts.

But Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman, EFCC expressed optimism that the anti-graft agency will win the war against corruption.

Mr. Magu, who made the remarks during the courtesy visit of Arc. Enoch Adeogun, acting post master general of NIPOST, said the commission had made significant progress. He said: “Definitely we are winning the war and we will win.” Magu said, “Corrupt people hire journalists to abuse us every day. They say we are not doing the work according to the law but that is not true.

“There is no agency that follows the law more than the EFCC, none. Before we arrest you or seize your property or do anything to you, we check the law, we go to court and get a court order. That is why we are winning; that is why we are defeating them every day”, Magu said, soliciting the cooperation of Nigerians as the commission is determined to fight the war against corruption.