By Abba Dukawa
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of other laws and regulations relating to economic and financial crimes, including: Money Laundering Act 1995, The Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004, The Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 1995, The Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act 1994, The Banks and other Financial Institutions Act 1991; and Miscellaneous Offences Act.
Since the Commission was established, it has had four chairpersons, Malam Nuhu Ribadu (2003 – 2007); Mrs. Farida Waziri (May 2008 – November 23, 2011); Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde (November 23, 2011 – November 9, 2015) Ibrahim Magu was appointed on November 9, 2015. Both the four Chairperson of the EFCC had public spat with Attorney-General of the Federation which led to they disgraced from the office in issue for lack of transparency in discharging their responsibilities or battle for supremacy.
Twice President Buhari forwarded Magu’s name for confirmation which was rejected by the Senate at that times Nigerians seen the rejection as result of power tussle between Presidency and the Senate leadership but upper chamber reliantly rejected him based on the reports by former director-general, Department of State Services (DSS). For all years he was on acting capacity until July 6, 2020, Magu was arrested by operatives of the Department of State Services and the Nigeria Police Force and driven to the Presidential Villa where he was made to answer questions on alleged corruption against him.
There is one question which remain unanswered why EFCC Boos are not end in well, Even before Magu’s suspension, he claimed EFCC recoveries of N504,154,184,744.04 but the actual bank lodgments were N543,511,792,863.47. Although there is inconsistencies cast a serious doubt on the accuracy of figures submitted by the EFCC as it’s cannot fully accounted for cash recoveries made by it. Another report by the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets, PCARA, has again been accused of allegedly failing to give a proper account of missing 332 out of the 836 recovered real estate property in March 2018.
It equally observed that EFCC made conflicting submissions or returns to it in respect of the non-cash assets which substantially affected the committee’s assignment. The report read in part: “For instance, EFCC stated 836 as the number of Recovered Real Estate in the Original Returns it made to the President on 07/04/2017. “However, in its 1st Returns to PCARA on 13/12/2017, EFCC short-changed the system and gave the figure of 339, thereby failing to account for 497 property. It is interesting to note that when the Acting Chairman was further queried on this lapse, he made further contradictory 2nd return of 504 on 09/03/2018 thereby bridging the gap to 332 properties. Now he is facing Justice Ayo Salami (Rtd)/Presidential Investigation Committee which is currently probing allegations against him. The suspended EFCC boss is expected to disclose the whereabouts of the missing interest funds running into billion of naira.
Both the office Attorney General and Minister of Justice and EFCC are a very sensitive government agency tasked with the investigation of financial crimes but all the cases brought by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission are not handled with all diligence and transparency against the alleged corrupt public official as result of battle for supremacy and personal advantage.
For the government and its anti corruption agencies to achieve just and fair fight against corruption , there is need for judiciary to support the crusade and make perpetrators of corruption serve as deterrents to others. For the chief executive offices of ICPC, EFCC, CCB, CCT should have a similar passion for the war and those that are sheep in the wolf skin within the commissions are to be sent away.
Now justice Ayo Salami, has been appointed to head the presidential panel. Nigerians are not doubtful of him being incorruptible jurist. With him as head of the panel Nigerians hopeful to know the level misconduct of the administration appointees perpetrated in discharging their responsibilities. Nigerians wants Salami led panel to ensure that justice prevail and not to make a anybody a scapegoat. President Buhari should extend Salami led panel to probe other critical sectors of the economy. Let the probe continue. Let Nigerians know how and why certain government official authoritised the sells of stolen vessels containing millions of barrels of crude oil be investigated. Let all the alleged officials corruption within the administration that have abused their office with some doses of corrupt practices should be immediately suspended.
Dukawa can be email@example.com