In Nigeria, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission is the agency responsible for thundering through economic crimes perpetrators and hunting down money launderers like a deer. The economic crimes detail includes investigation of cases involving money laundering, checking forgery, checking washing, counterfeit checks, non-sufficient fund checks, counterfeit credit cards, fraudulent use of credit cards, fraudulently possession of credit cards and such likes.
The agency was established in 2003 in some measure, the pressure from the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering which mentioned Nigeria as one of the 23 countries which hampered the international community’s efforts to fight money laundering. It was one of the most commendable agencies created by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
Since then, the EFCC has fought corruption and partners several agencies like the FBI, Metropolitan Police, German Police, Canadian Police, USAID, DFID, the World Bank, among others. The cooperation of bilateral partners and foreign donors such as the European Union also aided the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
Corruption has turned a healthy economy into a pale one as public office holders milked the system to deny millions of Nigerians access to the most basic health and education services.
It is worrisome that the fight against crimes in Nigeria has turned to a cyclical pattern of great and poor performance; when it seems she’s making progress in the fight against corruption, the demon practically fights back and dents the image of the nation like a punched car.
On President Muhammadu Buhari fighting corruption, Professor Lumumba, a former director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, said, ‘No matter how good your idea is, it must be sold to others and they must buy into it. That is how you institutionalise the idea. You cannot be a lone warrior in this matter because the children of darkness hunt like a pack of wolves and they will devour you if you are alone.”
The twinkling in the sun danced on the surface of the water forming a ripple in the people’s eyes. In other words, they were speechless when they learnt the suspended acting EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, was being investigated for alleged financial misconduct
“When people have power in their hands, they feel that they are lords into themselves and wield power arbitrarily but when the table turns against them, they feel that the hunter has become the hunted,” an anonymous photographer and Public Relations expert in Ikeja, Lagos observed.
But a question remains: has the hunter become the hunted truly?
The Sun was setting yet the sky to the west was streaked with red and orange, that Monday, July 6, 2020, when Magu was detained to answer various cases of official misconduct and financial irregularities levelled against him.
Allegations were made by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, who demanded the removal of the erstwhile acting Chairman of the EFCC in a memo to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). One of the allegations was to account for the sum of N700 million meant for training of the commission’s operatives. The training, it was gathered, was not held. Also, springs of information further revealed that 332 seized properties worth billions of naira were internationally concealed by planners to cover up more findings.
As it is, Magu must prove the weighty allegations hanging around his neck like the sword of Damocles.
The antigraft agency should be strengthened to make the operatives truly independent. I think the constant selection of the EFCC boss from among the serving policing officers within the Nigeria Police should be looked into. We also have capable hands among other sectors of society that can head the agency.
Magu was the chief investigator during Ribadu’s time, his conviction rate was excellent. It is noteworthy to point out that during Magu’s reign, he successfully arraigned and prosecuted prominent political figures on corruption charges and recovered billions of dollars and hundreds of property. There are so many theories surrounding Magu’s trial but one fact we can’t shy away from is that the former EFCC boss is not immune to being investigated but he deserves a fair hearing. Good a thing, an independent body has been set up to look into the aforementioned allegations. The panel must take an objective route.
Largely, the EFCC is the only Nigerian institution that barks and claws the impunity enjoyed by the corrupt and powerful political elite. Anti-corruption bodies like the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and the Code of Conduct Bureau must wake up and complement the efforts of the EFCC; they could be a tripartite outfit that fights all financial crimes that threaten the strategic, political and economic interests of Nigeria.
It is an open secret that corruption and poor governance are key factors holding back Nigeria’s development, and until it is fought impartially, things will continue to look hopeless as a frost in spring.
Olusanya Anjorin is a public affair analyst, wrote in from Lagos via [email protected]