ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION AND THE CONTROL OF CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA

1.1    INTRODUCTION

The preponderance of Economic and Financial Crimes like Advance Fee Fraud (419) money laundering have had severe negative consequences on Nigeria including decreased Foreign Direct investments in the country and tainting of Nigeria’s National Image. The menace of these crimes and the recognition of the magnitude and gravity of the situation led to the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). The legal instrument backing the commission is the Economic and Financial Crime Commission establishment Act 2002 and the commission has high level support from the presidency, the legislature and key security and law enforcement Agencies.

It will be recalled that before now, Nigeria was ranked the 3rd most corrupt country in the world by transparency international in 2004 (BBC News 2004 retrieved) and during the visit of President Bill Clinton to Nigeria, he wanted President Obasanjo to take him to a place called “Oluwole” in Lagos. “Oluwole” is situated in the heart of Eko by Nnamdi Azikiwe Street of Lagos known at that time as the centre for all counterfeits documents or instruments. This to President Obasanjo was a serious blow to his nation (Dr. Umoh class session). All these and many more image damaging circumstances impressed on President Obasanjo the need for the establishment of the two commissions, the ICPC and the EFCC to tackle corruption in Nigeria.

1.2   THE ACT (2004)

The EFCC was established for the enforcement and the due administration of the provision of the EFCC Act, to investigate all financial crime and economic crimes. The commission by the act is empowered to prevent, investigates prosecute and penalize economic and financial crimes and is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the provision of other laws and regulations relating to economic and financial crimes including.

  1. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act 2002.
  2. The money laundering Act; 1995
  3. The money laundering (Prohibition) Act; 2004
  4. The advance fee fraud and other fraud related offenses Act; 1995
  5. The failed bank (Recovery of Debts) and Financial malpractices in Banks; Act 1994
  6. The banks and other financial institution Act, 1991 and miscellaneous offenses Act;
  7. In addition, EFCC will be the Agency of government responsible for fighting terrorism by these acts the EFCC now has the overall function of investigating all financial crimes including advance fee fraud, money laundering counterfeiting of instruments/ documents, illegal charge transfer, future market fraud fraudulent encashment of negotiable instruments, computer credit and fraud and contract scam.

The commission is also empowered to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial laws and enforcement function. Conferred on any person, authorize the adoption of measures to identify, trace, freeze, confiscate or seize proceed derived from terrorist activities, Economic and Financial Crime related offences or the properties, the value of which corresponds to such proceeds. The agency is also to adopt measures to rid the country of economic and financial crimes. The measures will include the co-ordination of prevention and regulation, introduction and maintenance of investigative control techniques on the prevention of economic and financial related crimes. It is also to ensure the rapid exchange of scientific and technical information and the conduct of joint operation geared towards the eradication of economic and financial crimes.

1.3    WHAT IS ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES

Economic and financial crimes are non-violent and illicit activities committed with a view to acquiring illegal wealth individually or in a group in an organized manner. Thereby violating regulations concerning economic crimes e.g. illegal oil bunkering, illegal mining, bribery dumping of toxic waste, smuggling, fraud (419) etc.

According to J. S. Nye corruption is a deviation from the “normal duties of a public role for private pecuniary or status gains such violations of duties or rules include bribery (use of reward to pervert the judgment of a person in a position of trust) nepotism appointment by ascription rather than by merit and misappropriation of public resources for private gains (Girling 1997).

The pioneer chairman of ICPC, Hon. Justice Mustapha Akanbi, views corruption as the Abuse of public office for private gains. The public office is abused for private gain when an official accepts, solicits or extorts bribe. It is also abused when private agents actively offer bribes to circumvent public policies and processes for competitive advantage and profit. Public offices can also be abused for personal benefit even if no bribery occurs through patronage and nepotism, the theft of state assets or the diversion of state revenue (The World Bank) report, retrieved.

1.4    COMPOSITION OF THE EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crime Commission has at its apex, the chairman with four years tenure of office. The appointment of the chairman is made by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to be ratified by the senate. The first chairman during Obasanjo’s administration was Nuhu Ribadu (2003-2007). 2nd chairman Mrs. Farida Wazira (2007-2011) current chairman Mr. Ibrahim L’Aamode (Nov. 23, 2011 to date). The composition of the EFCC is the Director General of the Department of the State Security Services, (SSS) DG of NIA, Customs Immigration, Prisons, Representative of the ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Governor of CBN. The inspector General of Police.

1.5   UNITS OF THE EFCC

The EFCC began operations with (5) five units.

  1. General and Assets investigation Unit
  2. Legal and Prosecution Unit
  3. Research Unit
  4. Administration Unit
  5. Training Unit

This year, March 9. 2012, three (3) additional units have been created, Mr. Ibrahim Larmode, the new chairman said that these units are created in line with his promise to reposition the commission.

These units are:

  • Directorate of planning, policy and statistics
  • Directorate of media and public affairs
  • Internal affairs, department.

This therefore brings to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission eight unit (8) in all.

1.6    TEN COMMANDMENT OF THE EFCC

The commission in their effort to drive their operations believes in the following values which they call “The Ten Commandments”.

  1. Integrity
  2. Commitment
  3. Efficiency
  4. Professionalism
  5. Discipline
  6. Patriotism
  7. Focus
  8. Accountability
  9. Courage

1.7    OBJECTIVES OF EFCC

  1. To receive and investigate complaints from members of the public on allegations of corrupt practices and prosecute offenders.
  2. Adopting measures to identify, trace individuals or persons who commits crimes and prevent such individual in the commission of crimes through monitoring.
  3. To facilitate the creation of concept-free society through collaborating with all tiers of government, NGOs, CBOs, and the entire public as they have a role to advocate for a concept free generation of Nigerians.
  4. Elimination of those vices from our nation through the assistance of international communities such as Switzerland, USA, and Europe where Nigerian leaders store their wealth.
  5. Monitoring of the movement of proceeds or properties of the financial criminals, determining the extent of the crime committed and advise the government appropriately.
  6. To liaise with the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Nigerian Custom Service, the Prisons, The NDIC, Immigration Service and all relevant Agencies charged with the responsibility of crime prevention.

1.8    VISION AND MISSION OF THE EFCC

The vision of EFCC is to be the second agent of change in the war against corruption and corrupt practices in the polity and thereby restore Nigeria to the enable standard of respectability, dignity and honour within the comity of Nations. The mission of EFCC is to employ all available legal means to rid Nigerian of greed, avarice and all vestiges of corruption and thus promote transparency, property, accountability and integrity in the public and private lives of all Nigerians.

1.9    ADMISSION OF CASES

The most common way of accepting cases by the EFCC is through a petition written by an individual or organisation. The petition will be evaluated, and if the case falls within the purview of the commission’s mandate, it will be accepted for investigation and possible prosecution. Petition that do not fall within the purview of the commission are sent to the appropriate Agency, be it Nigeria Police Force, Securities and Exchange Commission, (SEC) ICPC, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) etc. members of the public can also send complaints electronically to the commission via their e-mail address. ([email protected]ccnigeria.org)

1.10  FUNDING/SUPPORT TO EFCC

The EFCC is primarily funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria through yearly budgeted allocation as approved by the National Assembly from the Appropriation Bill empowering the Minister of Finance through warrant to release specific amounts as approved to the commission. The EFCC also enjoys the EU/UNODC (European Union/United Nation Office on Drugs Crime Project Support. From this funds, about 247 million Euro has been enjoyed by both the Judiciary and the EFCC under the 9th European Development Fund. The on-going project which was launched in 2006 was to be completed in 2010 and was implemented by the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crimes. The project supported the EFCC which was set up in 2003 by the Nigerian Government with a mandate to prevent and combat economic and financial crimes. It is a crucial phase of institution building, specific project intervention such as the strengthening of the operational capacities of the commission, and the provision of specialized training for staff and management, the delivery of basic generational equipment, the building of the EFCC training and research institute as well as the creation of forensic laboratory and the mentoring of its staff. The project has also provided the EFCC with a state of the art I.T. system and helped in developing and implementing custom-made specialized data base application including-goAMI, goDIM, and goCASE as well as ADMIN used in case management, and financial intelligence analysis and donor co-ordination.

Moreover, the project assisted the agency in policy, advocacy and outreach through the conduct of served assessment of corruption. The development of a national anti-corruption strategy, the establishment of a national network of civil society organisation, advocating for the fight against corruption and governance reforms as well as the development of specialized non-conviction based asset forfeiture legislation aimed to further enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement action against corruption.

The project has also assisted the Nigeria judiciary and other justice sector stakeholders in the strengthening of integrity and capacity of the justice system at the Federal level and within 10 Nigerian states, working in co-operation with the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in this regard, the project has helped to prepared a ground for several reform polices primarily focusing on improving governance, accountability and transparency of Justice sector integrity and capacity was carried out, providing baseline data allowing for the measuring of progress in the various areas of reform. This aims at accessing justice in the Judiciary particularly by prisoners awaiting trial to improve speed and quality of justice delivery and to build the confidence of court users by increasing accountability, integrity, impartiality and independence of the courts (Transparency and Accountability in public Service EFCC 2009 retrieved).

1.11  CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF EFCC

Before the establishment of the commission, Nigeria had been stigmatized by the international community as being corrupt. This was because there had been several failed campaign in the past to wipe out corruption or reduce it to a tolerable level. These attempts include the Jaji Declaration in 1977 by General Olusegun Obasanjo. The ethical revolution of President Shehu Shagari in 1981, the war against indiscipline by General Muhammadu Buhari in 1984; the National orientation movement by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida in 1986, the mass Mobilization for Social Justice and Economic Reconstruction by General Babangida in 1987 and the war against indiscipline and corruption in 1996 by General Sani Abacha. The penal and criminal codes contained provisions which are meant to prohibit and punish corruption.

However, the corrupt practices and other related offences Act 2000 brought to being President Olusegun Obasanjo, which set up the Anti-corruption commission is actually getting people sanctioned.

1.12  INDEPENDENCE OF THE COMMISSION

In section 2 (4) of the Act that establishes the commission ensures the independence of the commission as not being subject to the direction of control of any person or authority in the exercise of its mandate. Further to the guarantee provided by the law, the independence integrity of those at its helm who would not bow to pressures, if any. This position of the commission independency was seen to be practicable in the early days of the commission when the commission was directly reporting to the presidency although with few critiques. Since the removal of its first chairman Nuhu Ribadu, the commission was moved from the Presidency to the Federal Ministry of Justice which placed the supervision of the commission under the Minister of Justice. Recently the commission is fused with several government agencies being components of the board of the commission which can no more guarantee the independency of the commission. But suffice to say that under President Olusegun Obasanjo, the commission enjoys greater degree of independency on their operation.

1.13  REVIEW OF MANDATE

In June, 2009 the senate committee on Drugs Narcotics and Anti-Corruption moved to amend the act setting up the EFCC and the ICPC so as to guarantee independence from the executive. Two of the proposals were to give the EFCC chair legally stipulated tenure of four years and to require senate approval for removal of members of either commission.

A merger of two agencies was also considered: at public hearing on the amendment, Senate President David Mark expressed concern that the EFCC and the ICPC would have too much power without another body supervising their work. However, the former EFCC chairman, Farida Waziri said “it is important for anti-corruption agencies to remain independent of politician whom they often investigated she expressed concern that the proposed amendment would rather limit and enhanced the effectiveness of the agencies.

1.14  ISSUES OF CORRUPTION

“The issue of the upsurge of corruption is troubling and the damaging it has done to the polity are astronomical”. (Victor E. Dike 2003). The menace of corruption leads to slow movement of files in offices on the highways, post congestion queues at passport offices and gas stations.  Ghost workers syndrome, election irregularities among others. Even the mad people on the street recognize the havoc caused by corruption. The feeds allocated for their welfare disappear into thin air, thus, it is believed by many in the society that corruption is the bane of Nigeria. Consequently, the issue keeps recurring in every academic and informal discussion in Nigeria. And the issue will hardly go away.

Corruption is not new, it is a global phenomenon. It is not peculiar to Nigerian alone. Leaders as well as followers are corrupt. Consequently, it has defied all necessary medicines. If there is lack of control of corruption in every sphere in the nation. It is then like the old saying, “when water chokes you, what do you take to wash it down”.

1.15  DEFINITION OF CORRUPTION

Broadly corruption has been defined as a perversion or a change from good to bad. Specifically competition or corruption behaviour involves the violations of established rules for personal gain and profit. Corruption is an effort to secure wealth or power through illegal means, private gain at public expense; or misuse of public power for private benefit. It is a behaviour which deviates from the formal duties of a public role, because of private gains regarding personal, close family private cliques, pecuniary or status gains. It is a behaviour which violates rules against the exercise of certain types of duties for private gains. This definition includes such behaviour as bribery (use of reward to pervert the judgement of a person in a position of trust; nepotism (bestowal of patronage by reason of relationship rather than merit); and misappropriation (illegal appropriation of public resources for private use (Banfield 1961), adds that corruption is anti-social behaviour conferring improper benefit contrary to legal and moral norms which undermine the authorities to improve the living condition of the people.

1.16  THE NATURE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF CORRUPTION

The nature and characteristic of corruption can be graded in three stages, the political corruption (graid) the bureaucratic corruption (petty) and the electoral corruption.

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