OPINION: THE KIND OF EFCC WE NEED

Can a castrated EFCC fight corruption? Can a muzzled and detoothed dog fight? If the EFCC is independent, then it should be allowed to operate as such. The EFCC chairman should be independent enough to resist pressure to compromise the mission and objectives of its creation.

 

You can’t be free in chains. Fighting corruption with weak institutions can’t produce the desired results. In Israel, a sitting Prime Minister is facing corruption investigation and was severally interrogated by the police. This is unthinkable in our country because our institutions are inherently weak.

 

In Nigeria, neither the police nor the EFCC can dare touch a powerful Minister, much less the President even if there is no immunity clause. The independence of the EFCC should not be compromised if we expect it to perform its functions effectively.

 

In fact, if our institutions are strong enough, Magu would have resisted the efforts to drop corruption and fraud charges against Danjuma Goje as part of a political deal to enlist his support for the election of Ahmed Lawan as Senate President.

 

Magu was dragging his feet over the corruption allegations against former SGF Babachir Lawal because he was a powerful member of the executive branch of government. An independent EFCC wouldn’t have needed the approval of the Attorney General to go after Lawal.

 

Didn’t AG Malami clear Lawal of the corruption allegations made against him by the Senate? It took public pressure to force the government to set up a panel headed by Vice President Osinbajo to investigate Lawal afresh. This time the Vice President finally recommended Lawal’s removal from office.

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Despite that, it took the EFCC more than a year to start formal prosecution of Lawal, thanks to public pressure. The eagerness and speed with which the EFCC and the police were ready to prosecute Ekweremadu and Saraki was incredible because they were members of the legislative arm of government.

 

An independent EFCC should be bold enough to go after members of the executive branch and legislature impartially. Babachir Lawal should have been investigated by the EFCC from the start after his indictment by the Senate. Instead, the President asked the Attorney General to investigate him and, not surprisingly, Malami cleared Lawal of the allegations.

 

A truly independent EFCC should not be timid in going after any member of the three branches of government. But the truth is that the anti graft agency appears to be more active when it comes to arresting and prosecuting legislators and judges. The EFCC is never keen on investigating corruption allegations made against NNPC or Ministers by the National Assembly.

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Again, an independent EFCC would not allow itself to be used as a political tool for fighting political enemies as we have seen under Olusegun Obasanjo. In fact, an independent EFCC should be bold enough to investigate political or campaign donations to the party in power, or investigate how public funds are used to finance campaign activities.

 

With strong institutions, the EFCC would have put a stop to the practice whereby governors donate public funds to their own political parties for campaign purposes. So, if there is any move to reform the EFCC, such effort should be to make it more fiercely independent, and not to emasculate it. It’s unfortunate that the Uwais Report which sought to make the EFCC fiercely independent of the President to avoid the abuses committed by Olusegun Obasanjo was not honestly implemented.

 

 

Olayiwola Emmanuel Jebba Hamilton, is an engineer, freelancer, poet, teacher, mediator, meliorist, enthusiast, Media/PR Strategist. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria.

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