Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Political Immiscibility
This project uses jurisprudence, political economy, and focus groups with lawyers to examine how the EFCC can best insulate itself from political interference. The team behind the project includes Dr Pallavi Roy (SOAS University of London), Emilia Oneyma (SOAS University of London), Habeeb Oredola (Habeeb Oredola Barristers and Solicitors), and Simeon Obidairo (Soas University).
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), an agency of the Nigerian government, has been a leading anti-corruption agency in the region. It has grown from an organisation that focused on advance fee fraud to one that has focused on high-profile political corruption. As a result, the EFCC has become a major debt collector for Nigeria’s large private sector actors.
The EFCC’s independence is also threatened by its own legislation, which requires that the EFCC chairman be confirmed by the Senate. Further, the law allows the president to dismiss the commission’s members, thereby severely limiting the agency’s independence. In light of these constraints, the government should explore the idea of setting up special corruption courts. These courts would be staffed with judges with backgrounds in financial crime.
The EFCC has taken some promising steps to combat political corruption in Nigeria, but its performance has been limited. Although the agency has charged over 30 national political figures, many of these cases have yet to make much progress in the courts. In fact, only four people have been convicted of corruption. Despite its impressive track record, the EFCC’s performance is continually undermined by institutional factors and its own shortcomings.
A number of critics have called for the merger of the EFCC and the ICPC. However, this is not in the best interest of the country, as the two institutions would not have the same mandate and resources. Human Rights Watch strongly urges the president to support the EFCC’s anti-corruption efforts and push through its anti-corruption legislation.
Economic and financial crime has increased globally in recent years, and many high-profile cases have undermined the credibility of financial institutions and companies. This has led to job losses and bankruptcy, and serious damage to investors. However, this phenomenon can be contained and controlled in developed countries by implementing appropriate regulatory measures.
There are several issues surrounding the EFCC’s mandate. First of all, its chairman is not constitutionally guaranteed tenure. He can be removed from office by the president at any time without the consent of the National Assembly. This severely restricts the EFCC’s independence. Second, the EFCC Act does not explicitly require the President to appoint a member of the Commission, making it extremely vulnerable to political pressures.
Having said that, a career law enforcement official would be more likely to serve as EFCC’s chairman than someone with no experience in that field. This is concerning because the police force is so tainted with corruption that even the highest officers are not immune to allegations. Hence, a civil society campaigner said the government should retain the discretion to appoint a person of integrity to lead the EFCC.
The EFCC’s mandate is not limited to tackling corruption cases. It also includes educating, enlightening and sensitizing the public. Its Chairman, Mailafia Yakubu, said the EFCC’s mandate is to rid Nigeria of all forms of economic crime.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s standing against various global governance indicators, including the Corruption Perception Index, has improved. But the EFCC’s political connections have created challenges for its credibility. For instance, in the last decade, it has prosecuted only 400 people – with four members of the political class – in dubious plea deals. Further, it has only recently begun investigating fraud in the private sector. Furthermore, in some high-profile cases, the EFCC has acted almost like a debt collection agency.
In addition, the EFCC’s mandate is to protect the economy from economic crime. It is concerned about the increasing number of young undergraduates committing financial crimes. It has sought partnership with a top university to fight the rising trend. This partnership has led to the arrest and conviction of several young men in these financial crimes. In addition, the EFCC has made significant progress in tackling these crimes through its radio programme.
Several amendments to the EFCC Amended Act 2004 have been made to restrict the agency’s powers. For example, the EFCC will no longer be able to invoke Sections 12 to 18 and Section 46 of the Act. These sections govern how the EFCC can investigate crimes. These changes were made in line with international conventions on corruption, which Nigeria has ratified. Additionally, the ruling prohibits the Federal Government from using the EFCC to control the governors of states or to persecute politicians.
The EFCC’s powers to investigate and prosecute crimes in a state have also been challenged by some people, citing the agency’s jurisdictional competence. For example, some argue that the EFCC does not have the jurisdiction to investigate state finances. Further, some argue that the EFCC does have the competency to prosecute state government crimes because they are not federal agencies.
Nonetheless, the EFCC has many powers. Although the law grants the agency this broad authority, these powers do not extend to civil disputes. For example, the EFCC cannot intervene in a dispute between two people or in a civil lawsuit. Nonetheless, it does have the power to investigate and prosecute any individual or entity whose actions violate the law.
The EFCC is mandated to combat economic and financial crimes. Its powers are outlined by the EFCC Establishment Act and other laws that pertain to the EFCC’s mandate. It is responsible for investigating and prosecuting those suspected of committing economic crimes and misappropriation.
The EFCC was established by the Obasanjo administration. Since then, it has undergone turbulent times under different AGFs. It is important for the EFCC boss to remember that the powers are not absolute.
Its political interference
EFCC’s political interference has weakened its effectiveness in prosecuting criminals and bringing those responsible to justice. While the EFCC has been instrumental in charging political leaders and businessmen with political connections and recovering stolen resources for the Nigerian state, frequent political interference has diminished its independence and credibility. Politicians have a tendency to view the EFCC as an extension of the current government and to rescind convictions and dismiss charges against political figures.
President Muhammadu Buhari has warned the Economic and Fiscal Crimes Commission (EFCC) to stay away from political interference and personal disputes. He wants the EFCC to focus on serving the nation and establishing good governance. He also urged the commissioners of the EFCC to resist political influence and to be dedicated to their work.
Its prosecution rates
The EFCC has been plagued by political pressures for years, which has hampered its ability to prosecute major corrupt figures. The agency’s efforts to prosecute Nigeria’s national political figures have been marred by delays, frustration and failure. Although the commission has filed hundreds of criminal cases, only a handful of them have resulted in convictions. Despite these problems, the EFCC claims to have had some success in some high profile cases.
The EFCC reports that in the last three years, it has arrested 17,474 people and prosecuted 1,744 of them. This translates to a 9.98% conviction success rate. However, this is not enough. The commission must do more to win public trust and carry out its duties with a steadfast non-partisanship. This is because many Nigerians still have a perception that the EFCC is too selective in its pursuit of corruption cases.
Nigeria’s foreign partners have a mixed track record in applying meaningful pressure to the Nigerian government. The creation of the EFCC in 2002 was the result of international pressure. Since then, Western governments have provided substantial assistance to the agency, with the European Union being the largest donor. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has also trained key EFCC investigators.
Another problem is that the government should set up special courts for corruption cases, where judges would receive additional resources and cases. Judges would have more security and financial incentives for prosecuting cases, and the courts would be staffed with people who are experts in the financial crimes sector. In other words, these courts would be largely an expansion of existing programs.
In addition to the problems in the prosecution rate, the EFCC’s own incompetence has also plagued its efforts. Under Ribadu, the EFCC was unable to appeal a 2007 court ruling that barred it from investigating former Rivers State governor Peter Odili, effectively derailing the EFCC’s biggest case. Ribadu never explained the reasons behind this, and his successor, Waziri, has done no concrete work on overturning the ruling.
Read More : Ayra Starr