Saturday, 25 July 2020

IBRAHIM MAGU: IT IS TIME TO AMEND THE EFCC ACT. By Ishola Balogun


IBRAHIM MAGU: IT IS TIME TO AMEND THE EFCC ACT. 

By Ishola Balogun

 

The Chairman, Center for Institutions Reforms in Nigeria, CIRN, Lai Omotola has said that the act establishing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is due for amendment, adding that a new structure is urgently needed for the 15-year-old commission in order to function efficiently and fulfil its mandate. Speaking on the myriads of challenges bedevilling the commission at CIRN head office, Maryland, Lagos, during the weekend, Omotola decried the situation in which EFCC is still infused with the police, saying that the commission has grown to the level where it should be making use of its own officers trained at its academy just as we have with the Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Immigration Service, Federal Road Safety Commission and so on.


“Nigerian media have been awash with ongoing investigation of suspended Acting Chairman of the anti-graft agency, Ibrahim Magu over the allegations of diversion of recovered looted funds, financial infractions and other acts of gross misconduct. “Since its formation in 2003, EFCC has been battling with crisis which always lead to abrupt termination of tenures of its Chairmen. Magu’s predecessors, Nuhu Ribadu, Mrs Faridah Waziri and Ibrahim Lamorde also encountered bitter taste of unceremonious exits.


“The current system in which both Nigerian Police and EFCC are infused does not augur well for smooth and efficient operations of EFCC as the training, orientations and mandates of Nigerian Police and EFCC are different. Although, the duties of the two are similar; however, EFCC deals mostly with high profile cases of graft which usually requires higher degree of intelligence gathering and. extraordinary mode of extensive investigation; thus the need for EFCC to have autonomy. “At its embryonic stage of existence, the interventional inclusion of the men of Nigerian police might be necessary, however, this should be temporal since it is now matured to be independent from police and make use of its own operatives,” Omotola said.


The CIRN Chairman added that the mandate of EFCC must be made clear and well defined, saying that if EFCC is going to be led by the police, then its existence is unwarranted and pointless since there is already the Special Fraud Unit, and Federal Investigation and Intelligence Bureau, FIIB, both of the Nigerian Police, noting that if its continuation is justified, then it is urgently imperative to separate it from the police. “If autonomy is not given to EFCC, the commission’s problems will continue to linger due to conflicts of interests and its Chairmen may continue to experience unceremonious exits.


“Economic and Financial crimes are more of unwholesome practices taking place in the private sector to hurt the economy while corruption is about embezzlement of public funds by politicians holding public offices. ICPC was formed yo fight political corruption. “One of the reasons why EFCC always entangled in crisis is that it focuses more on political corruptions than economic/financial crimes, and people that are guilty of this corruption are politicians and in this our clime, it is extremely difficult to fight them. That’s why they keep on removing EFCC chairmen for different reasons. ‘Nuhu Ribadu, Faridah Waziri, Ibrahim Lamorde and now, it is the turn of Ibrahim Magu.


All the experienced bitter taste of crisis that led to premature ends of their tenure. “So, with all these experiences, it is very imperative that EFCC Act should be amended in a way that will give it a new identity and framework it deserves,” CIRN Chairman said. Omotola also spoke about the issue of investigation, which according to him, has been marred by media trial “In the beginning, EFCC was very thorough in its investigation. Then, the agency would have concluded it to about 90 per cent before inviting suspects. But now, things have gone awry as media trial has become the order of the day; and this is hampering the efficiency of EFCC and denting its image, he lamented. Omotola concluded by calling on relevant stakeholders to consider the issues he raised because EFCC urgently needs to be reformed, adding that the 15-year-old anti-graft agency has pivotal role to play n the development of Nigerian economy.


Source: Vanguard

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