Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) And The Fight Against Corruption In Nigeria; An Assessment

Project and Seminar Material for Criminology And Security Studies

Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) And The Fight Against Corruption In Nigeria; An Assessment


Abstract


The main focus of this study is to assess the role of Economic and Financial Crime Commission in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. Survey research design was adopted for the study using convenience sampling method 45 participant was enrolled for the study. A total of 39 responses were received and validated from the enrolled participants where all respondents were drawn from officers of EFCC of in Ibadan metropolis of Oyo State. Data was analyzed using frequencies and tables. Findings from the study unveiled factors responsible for EFCC and their fight against corruption such as to Investigation of all financial crimes such as advance fee fraud, money laundering and counterfeiting and to probe and recover looted funds from past government leaders involved in any illegal financial transactions.

The study therefore recommeded that autonomy of the commission should be enhanced as the government, at both federal and state levels, should stare clear off the activities of the EFCC in order for the agency to be fully independent and to be able to fight corruption with a mind devoid of prejudice.. Moreso The EFCC ought to be ultra-careful during their raids and should avoid apprehending the “innocent” alongside the culprit(s).


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Close to a decade after the inauguration of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the war against corruption in Nigeria continues to rage with the anti-graft body clearly not having the upper hand. The bulk of the blame has been put on the Federal Government for not allowing the Commission to function without undue interference. It is believed in some quarters that most of those who should be arrested, investigated and prosecuted by the EFCC are enjoying protection from the Federal Government and people hardly get hounded by agents of the commission unless they have fallen out of favour with the Government. The leadership of the Commission has changed a number of times but the system with which it pursues its mandate has remained the same over the years. Many had questioned the genuineness of the intention behind the commission right from its first few years as it was largely seen as a tool by the Federal Government to witch-hunt real or perceived opponents.

Though the fear of the EFCC was the beginning of wisdom in the Obasanjo years, it became obvious that the Malam Nuhu Ribadu-led commission targeted mainly those who dared to antagonize the President. Though back then, the EFCC was seen to be working, though not without some flaws. For instance, Rotimi Amaechi faced fire when the EFCC brought up charges of financial impropriety against him just before the 2007 elections and he was dropped as the governorship candidate of his party. It was later made public that it was because the powers that be were not favourably disposed to his ambition to rule Rivers State. Peter Odili too aspired for the PDP’s presidential ticket in 2007. It was an open secret that former President Olusegun Obasanjo used the EFCC to frustrate that ambition.
One of the beneficiaries of Obasanjo’s effective usage of the EFCC was Engineer Segun Oni, the deposed Governor of Ekiti State. Though he came third in the shadow elections, during a meeting with the three top contenders for the PDP’s ticket, the President brought out a file which he claimed was the EFCC’s dossier on Yinka Akerele who came tops at the primaries. There and then, Obasanjo in his wisdom decided that Oni should be chosen as the party’s candidate. He was immediately told to go and flag off his campaign in Ado Ekiti. Joshua Chibi Dariye, a Governor was arrested in London with loads of money Dariye found his way to Nigeria after being granted bail. Not long after, Nuhu Ribadu addressed the Plateau State House of Assembly and pronto, Dariye was impeached He challenged his impeachment and was reinstated by the Court, with the verdict being upheld by the Supreme Court. After the expiration of his tenure in May, 2007, he was arraigned at Federal High Court, Guda on a charge of stealing over N 700 million. He was granted bail and today, Dariye is a Senator of the Federal Republic.

The situation in Ekiti state was somewhat similar. No one ever believed Fayose could be impeached by the House of Assembly in which he controlled the majority. On one occasion, he opened a portion of the Government House for his guests and there the House of Assembly was holding a meeting around 1 a.m. After the arrest of some of his friends and associates over a failed poultry project, the EFCC swooped on the Ekiti State House of Assembly and after several visits to the EFCC facilities in Lagos and Abuja, the legislators were made to understand that the commission had records of the funds they collected for constituency projects and how the funds were utilised. Not long after, the legislators backed down and the vote of absolute confidence earlier passed on the Governor gave way. He was impeached along with his deputy and his case started in court on December 17, 2006. He was accused of looting about N 1.2 billion.

So far, Lucky Igbinedion is the only former Governor who has paid back part of his loot. While facing a 191-count charge of money laundering, Igbinedion opted for a plea bargain and he paid back N 4.3 billion in a case that was determined in 2008. To many, the EFCC was simply playing to the gallery as it continued to drag people to court and the number of convictions obtained did not show that it was indeed winning the war against graft. The cases of Bode George as well as the assets forfeiture of Tafa Balogun and Dipreieye Alamieyesegha are the major achievements the commission can boast of.

The commission blamed the Executive for interfering in its activities through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation. Bails have allegedly been secured for people who were arrested by the Commission through the Attorney General. And at the end of the day, the country ends up being the loser, if an agency that is funded by the Government is prevented from carrying out its functions by agents of the same government. Internal politics also affected the quick and diligent prosecution of a lot of cases. Each time a new Chairman comes on board, there is bound to be the redeployment of officers believed to be in the structure built by the chairman’s predecessors. The transfer of a lot of investigators has reportedly done a lot to affect the cases that were handled by such officers.
In conclusion, this study aimed at looking at the EFCC and their fight against corruption in Nigeria (A won or lost battle). It suggested that the commission should explore the inter-nations technical co-operation on corruption, to develop mechanism that would help Nigeria have a system that discourages outright stealing of public fund, and develop an anti-corruption war that relied on forensic evidence, well-trained personnel and free of unnecessary controversies. EFFC should, this time-around, effectively utilize the provisions in the National Assembly Act 2004, establishing it. For instance, Part III, section 12, subsection 1(c) and subsection (2), which provided for establishment of Research Unit; and any committee to assist the commission, are good avenues for the commission to explore to bring itself at par with Nigerians expectations. However, the best weapon the new helmsman of EFFC have, is, adherence to rule of law, because with the current uncompromising stand on adherence to Rule of Law, by President Yar’Adua, any disregard of Rule of Law will not only send one to kuru, it may send one to Kirikiri.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Corruption is one of the most widespread social evils in Nigeria; it is seen as a main threat in the public and private sphere. Corruption undermines fragile democratic systems by fuelling popular disillusionment with politics and politicians; it also undermines trust and confidence, which are necessary for upholding and development of sustainable economic and social order. Corruption is not only peculiar to Nigeria, it is a global phenomenon. However, anti-corruption war in Nigeria is like a gun-war being fought with bows and arrows, it is a war that can turn its fighters into victims and those being fought into heroes, it is a war that both sides manipulate to gain personal and political points, it is a ‘world’ of controversies, politics, extensive debates and high public expectations.

EFCC is the central institution saddled with the responsibility of fighting Nigeria’s anti-corruption war. The Commission and its helmsmen were recently featuring in the news in positive as well as negative pictures, both at local and international media. EFCC and its protagonists hold the view that, the Commission is on the right track; while its antagonists and some public commentators have observed some lapses in the manner the Commission is executing its mission.


1.3 Research Questions

The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:

  1. What is the prevalence of EFCC and their fight against corruption in Nigeria?
  2. What are the factors responsible EFCC and their fight against corruption in Nigeria?
  3. What are the ways in which the EFCC can win their fight against corruption ?

1.4 Objective of the Study

The main focus of this study is to assess the role of Economic and Financial Crime Commission in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

Specifically the study seek:

  1. To examine the effectiveness or otherwise of EFCC in fighting corruption in Nigeria.
  2. What are the factors responsible EFCC and their fight against corruption in Nigeria
  3. To proffer solutions that will strengthen Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The significance of this study or research cannot be over emphasized because of the immense contribution. It is supposed to offer in the area of development of knowledge in fighting corruption in Nigeria. It is therefore hoped that this study will highlight the effect of Corruption, dimensions of corruption and roles so far performed by EFCC to combat bribery and corruption in Nigeria. This study will also serve as a very relevant and important material for further research on activities of EFCC in war against bribery and corruption in Nigeria. Furthermore, it will also increase the literature that exist on corruption among nations in the world.


1.6 Scope of the Study

The scope of this study borders on the role of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in fighting corruption in Nigeria. The study is however limited to EFCC officers in Ibadan metropolis of Oyo State.


1.7 Limitation of the Study

Finance:

Due to the economic difficulty that the people, including the researcher, was experiencing, the prospect of a greater sample size, which would have enabled the study to reach a larger region, has become impossible; thus, this work is limited to EFCC Oyo State.

Time:

It was not surprising that the researcher was limited by time frame as it posed a direct challenge to the effective coverage intended in the course of this report. It is the intention of the researcher to interview all the employees of the selected television channels but because of numerous activities of the researcher which borders on both academics, work schedules and other social activities it became relatively impossible to cover all but selected few respondents who are officers in EFCC in Ibadan Metropolis.

Attitude of Respondents:

The majority of reporters fail to collect the questionnaires, and some who do collect pay urgent attention required in filling and returning it, and others did not return theirs at all. Others were less accommodating and may have provided untrustworthy information because they were afraid of being exposed, despite the researcher’s promise that all information would be treated with the utmost secrecy and only for education purpose.


1.8 Definition of Terms

Anti- Corruption:

This refers to the laws enacted for the operation of institutional mechanism for the fight against corruption in Nigeria, which are Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), public Complaints Commission (PCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), etc.

Corruption:

This is the use of public power for private profit or benefit of a group or class, in such a way that constitutes a breach of law or of standards of high moral conduct.

Bribery:

This is the payment (in money or kind) that is given or taken in a corrupt relationship to pay or receive a bribe is corruption and should be understood as the essence of corruption. A bribe is a fixed sum, a certain percentage of a contract or any other favour in money, kind usually paid to a state official who can make contracts on behalf of the state or otherwise distribute benefits to companies or individuals, businessmen and clients.

Embezzlement:

This is theft of resources by people who are put to administer it; it is when disloyal employees steal from their employers. This a serious offence when public officials are misappropriating public resources, when state officials steal from the public institutions in which he or she is employed and from resources he is supposed to administer on behalf of the public.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

The main focus of this study is to assess the role of Economic and Financial Crime Commission in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. The study determined the prevalence of EFCC in their fight against corruption. It also examined factors responsible for EFCC and their fight against corruption in Nigeria. It examined the ways in which the EFCC can win their fight against corruption.

Survey research design was adopted for the study using convenience sampling method 45 participant was enrolled for the study. A total of 39 responses were received and validated from the enrolled participants where all respondents were drawn from officers of EFCC of in Ibadan metropolis of Oyo State. Data was analyzed using frequencies and tables.


5.2 Conclusion

Corruption has proven difficult to fight and address in Nigeria even though an anti-graft agency has been set up through the EFCC to combat it. Although at the initial stage the commission was doing fine in recovering looted funds from past corrupt public official, in recent time have been bedeviled with politicization and acclimatize itself with corrupt practices. The overbearing influence of government presence in the activities of the EFCC has waterloo the performance of the commission and affected the administration of criminal justice fight against corruption..

Findings from the study unveiled factors responsible for EFCC and their fight against corruption such Investigation of all financial crimes such as advance fee fraud, money laundering and counterfeiting; To apprehend individuals who engage in illegal change transfers, future market fraud, fraudulent encashment of negotiable instrument, computer credit card fraud and contract scam and To probe and recover looted funds from past government leaders involved in any illegal financial transactions.

Findings from the study also revealed that the ways in which the EFCC can win their fight against corruption include The autonomy of the commission should be enacted without undue interference from federal and state political heads; There should be proper and a more convincing explanation by the EFCC on who is in charge of or where the recovered loots are being channeled to so as to correct the notion of the agency “relooting the loot”. More so The EFCC ought to be ultra-careful during raids to avoid apprehending the “innocent” alongside the culprit(s).


5.3 Recommendation

From the findings of the study, the researcher recommends thus:

  1. For the EFCC to achieved and surpass her current achievements, some level of independence is required for the commission. Laws guiding the judicial process of the EFCC and preventing the interference of political elite in the activities of the commission should be enacted.
  2. The government, at both federal and state levels, should stare clear off the activities of the EFCC in order for the agency to be fully independent and to be able to fight corruption with a mind devoid of prejudice.
  3. The EFCC should try not to renege any of its promise especially as it regards rewarding whistleblowers. This will further motivate the people to expose corruption and unscrupulous elements in the country.
  4. There should be proper and a more convincing explanation by the EFCC on who is in charge of or where the recovered loots are being channeled to so as to correct the notion of the agency “relooting the loot”.
  5. The EFCC ought to be ultra-careful during raids to avoid apprehending the “innocent” alongside the culprit(s).
  6. The non-conviction based assets forfeiture law should also be enacted because the nation needs to recoup her stolen fund to help revive her growth and development;
  7. Nigerian Judicial Process should also allow the administration of justice of the EFCC been fast and effective through attending to cases brought before the court on a timely basis with unnecessary delay and adjournments.
  8. The anti-graft agency of Nigeria i.e. the EFCC, ICPC, and CCB have grown to the stage of having a separate or special court system in order to achieve the desired goal of fighting corruption and financial crime. The Judicial system and the government should encourage the establishment of the special court.
  9. Anti- corruption agency should immediately work to repeal the IMMUNITY CLAUSE in the 1999 constitution. The clause tends to encourage corruption, both at the federal and state levels. Public officials, especially representatives and state governors have been openly corrupt because they know that they cannot be prosecuted while they are still in office.
  10. The EFCC or judicial commission should be set up to investigate the judicial system in order to find out why cases go through the Nigerian court system in a snail–like speed. There are too many delays and adjournments in the trial of cases. As a result, unfortunate suspects are sometimes locked up in detention for years awaiting trial. A law should be passed which states that if a case is not tried after a certain time period, the suspects in detention should be released. The delays and unnecessary postponements amount to corruption of Justice.

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