Opinion

EFCC, ICPC & Transparency By Liborous Oshoma

Transparency is not rocket science but the ability of the ordinary people to see clearly and distinctly through any process, thing or procedure, be it in government or outside of it.

EFCC, ICPC & TRANSPARENCY

That the AG of the Federation, Abubakar Malami SAN has called for the sacking of the Ag. Chair of the Economic & Financial Crime Commission EFCC, on grounds of diversion of recovered loot to insubordination, misconduct, and about 22 other weighty allegations boarding on accounting discrepancies of figures of recovered assets and transparency in the management of same is no longer news.

Recall that In early 2019, Magu, while flaunting the achievements of his three-year stewardship before journalist in Abuja, announced that EFCC under his watch had then recovered N794 billion, $261 million (about N77.8 billion), £1.1 million and 407 mansions from looters.

He also stated that the commission convicted no fewer than 703 corrupt persons and institutions within the period under review.

However, in a sharp twist then, the former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun by a letter dated February 9 2019 stated then that her ministry was only able to account for N91.3 billion recovered loot lodged into the CBN account by the EFCC from 2015 to Feb 2019 and subsequently asked Magu for an explanation as to the discrepancies in figures. Was Magu overhyping his recovery or they just kept some for themselves?

Again, even though the EFCC haven’t given a new figure of loot recovered by them distinct from the figures in 2019, the AGF, Abubakar Malami in June 2020 accused the EFCC boss of lodging into the Recovery Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) only N543 billion of recovered loot, leaving a shortfall of N254 billion from the 2019 figures, he also accused him of unauthorized sale of recovered fixed assets. The sound of these monies can give one HBP in a country where people live on less than one dollar a day. God, God, where are you?

Typical of our brand of politics, a group under the auspices of Kanuri Collective Agenda (KCA), and some northern leaders also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Attorney General, for daring to call for the sack of Magu, their request is hinged on the claim that such a call was an indirect indictment of the Buhari administration.

You remember the previous Senate had refused to confirm Magu on ground of a damning security report from the Department of State Services (DSS), citing lack of capacity and fitness to hold the office of the Chair of EFCC. Is this that case of incompetence, that of the bushmeat becoming the hunter or sheer desperation by those whose hands are in the cookie jar (as my egbon Jimi Disu would say) being afraid of Magu exposing them sooner or later. Well since the court coram, Ijeoma Ojukwu J, had said the constitution allows him to act in perpetuity, subject to Mr. President descretion, we await time and Mr. President to unravel this. But be sure that the movie is far from being over, so grab your popcorn and drink.

Acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu

To reduce all these quagmire and in-fighting, one would have expected, as a way of consistent institutional strengthening, the same National Assembly would have by now, amended the laws setting up our anti graft agencies like EFCC and ICPC to be in tandem with global best practices and what is obtainable in countries that strive to achieve transparency i. e, 1. separation of investigative agencies from the agencies that would recommend prosecution, 2. separation of prosecuting agencies from assets management.

That way you not only enhance transparency, probity and accountability in the agencies, you also make money on management of recovered assets even before selling, and subsequently also reduce the concentration of too much powers in one agency and avoid abuses, such as the ones complained of by Malami and Adeosun.

The EFCC and ICPC would also be devoid of indiscriminate use of the power of arrest and psychological torture to obtain evidence, fanned by pursuit of prosecutorial records and statistics chasing (ticking the numbers) because when such evidence violates the laid down prosecutorial rules and procedures, a thorough prosecutorial reviewing agency would refuse prosecution and professionalism would be enhanced.

Secondly, we say our police system is corrupt and compromised, so you set up an anti-corruption agency, but you bring the same police to head the anti-corruption agency.

The EFCC has been around for 15 years now, are we saying that we do not have capable hands to handle the chairmanship of the EFCC that we have to keep recycling policemen to head the EFCC.

If we have an EFCC that is well structured without police interference, and where the man who investigates is different from the man who recommends prosecution and the the assets management charged to another agency, there will be checks and balances. But when you leave all these functions in the hands of one man, you will definitely have abuse of power.

I would therefore further advocate, that no matter how frivolous or vexatious the allegations against the Chairman are, methink the President shouldn’t turn deaf ears to same, especially coming from his Chief Legal Officer, and as a way(s) of reposing confidence in his apostles and believers that his administration is still fighting corruption and not chasing shadows, it is pertinent to appoint a renowned forensic auditor(s)(please not interim management committee) to audit the account of both the EFCC and ICPC and make such report public. The office of the AG should also be questioned to ensure their cry is not a cover up. That way, the administration would not only have reiterated it position that nobody is above the law, but both parties and their supporters would have been assured of fairness and equity.

Then and only then can we truly say we are building institutions that will outlive us and not just the physical building housing such agencies or commission.

As the concentration of absolute powers in an agency, in itself, breeds corruption. If you hold both the knife and the yam, you will definitely cut a slice of yam for yourself.

Together let’s stop this yam slicing mentality.

@Liborous Oshoma Esq.

Aledeh News is not liable to opinions expressed in this article, they’re strictly the writer’s

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