Suppressing and/or controlling corruption requires not only the relevant institution-building and legislative measures but also creating the fear against crimes, affordable commodities and enabling environment as well as requirement for establishing the rule of law. It is of decisive importance to foster a democratic political and economic culture based entrust and respect of government institutions, transparency and openness of the activities of the administration, and an orientation towards stability and predictability of the economic and social environment.
Our anti-corruption plans and activities are currently being perceived as witch-hunting exercise. If just a particular umbrella is active than others, it could foster misinterpretations on why the past regime christened the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to hatch its prosecutions. With what hums around this anti-graft watchdog, some people are viewing the corruption fight of this nation as mere shadow chasing .The Institution is seen as a grossly dependent institution, pointing accusing fingers against those that fail to support the third term bid of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo as well as the people who frown at the April 2007 rigged elections and the PDP elections manoeuvres.
The recent reshuffle and unnecessary changes inside the Ant-graft institution portray that there could be dangers ahead. Confusion set to allow fiscal manipulations and ruse to take place. It could be unacceptable, if the EFCC is hand-controlled by those it supposed to prosecute. With the over-night appointment of Mrs Farida Waziri without the Senate screening, it shadowed flaw to due process and rule of law. To my own view, I am not against President Umaru Yar’Adua’s regime and would never support people who chide him on health ground. The President personae are the charisma Nigeria needed most for now.
But my confusion is, what plans has these government to eradicate corruption inside this nation and why is the EFCC head-pilots tampered frequently. As if a game-plan were sketched to destabilize the rigidity of this Anti-graft body to enthrone more and filth-devised corruption practices. Perception is a critical issue here. It is also a central issue in any analysis of justice, hence the principle that “justice must not only be done, but must be seen to have been done”. What I find monumental in that principle is that perception is a crucial aspect of understanding when justice has been done in a given case. The same reasoning will seem to apply in our analysis of EFCC, and how it discharges its sacred mandate to Nigerians.
This Regime is making efforts to combat corruption, yet the results are not as expected. The practice of prosecutions is seen short-lived and the issue of bargain over the loots snatched off from what I and you could have benefited all round an omen of the herald of things to come inside what this government calls corruption fight. The vast majority of initiatives in the EFCC should have directly involved the abolishment of the root causes of corruption, but to no avail. Significant progress could had been made in many key sectors such as the management of government revenues and expenditures, the management of natural resources, land management, education and health. Existing requirements were not implemented to strengthen the enforcement of a code of ethics that was embedded inside the EFCC act.
The mechanism of an Obasanjo anti-graft establishment:-the ICPC, the Code Of Conduct Bureau and the so called EFCC have been established to investigate and strengthen the enforcement of laws and regulations once the case is beyond anyone Ministry’s mandate or capacity. The draft Anti-corruption Law was referred to the National Assembly and the Senate for adoption and subsequently pass-marked .Early priorities for the coming period include the streamlining and computerization of service delivery processes to improve transparency, responsibility and accountability and thus to reduce opportunities for corrupt practices, the adoption of the Anti-corruption Law to deter corrupt practices, facilitating the adoption of anti-corruption codes for all stakeholders (because corruption takes place when there is a briber and a bribe receiver) and establishing an office to protect the interests and rights of clients of public services. As experience shows all over the world, controlling and eliminating corrupt practices is a long-term and difficult process. Increasing risks associated with corrupt practices is only one element of a multi-faceted strategy. Laws and regulations are only as good as the mechanisms to implement them.
Originally, the EFCC Anti-corruption strategy focuses on three intertwined essential factors: Prevention, Law Enforcement and Public Support. It happened that prevention led to a gradually reduction of opportunity for corrupt practices through without regard to the legal framework and procedures that are set in ways that respect the principles of good governance particularly as they relate to the management of public funds and the delivery of public services. Obviously, the citizens who use public services are aware of and understand the legal framework, procedures and their rights and obligations. Oversight mechanisms of the antigraft watchdog ,EFCC, which was recently criss-crossed by the Ribadu- Oandoakaa supremacy tussle were in place and instituted to control the implementation through empowerment and operations. The EFCC is the only parastatal that its requisite logistical support in terms of equipment and sufficient operating budgets are in place and are timely.
The EFCC has been promoting law enforcement on Money Laundering through the establishment of One-Window-Services throughout the country. The Anti-graft Agency’s Law enforcement is an element of the Anti-corruption strategy with the objective of strengthening the rule of law and other factors that determine the effectiveness of the implementation of actions, including preparing human resource training to enhance capacity and skills of civil servants, who are responsible for law enforcement, to fulfill their job effectively, Strengthening the investigation mechanism and having the tools to obtain sufficient evidence for fairly, predictably, and effectively convicting or punishing anyone who commits corruption, Strengthening and monitoring the implementation of the Sub-decree on Public Procurement Management, Strengthening monitoring and controlling the implementation of laws, Sub-decrees, and existing regulations of the EFCC and of state institutions in order to assure the integrity, effectiveness, transparency and accountability, Taking strict measures to reduce corrupt practices in any systems and procedures that provide the opportunity for corruption, Promoting the publication and dissemination of the Supreme Court’s decisions, Promoting the establishment of an independent anti-corruption institution as soon as expected, Public support is an important factor that cannot cut off from the anti-corruption strategy, where the support from the public can be sought through: Organizing seminars at national and international levels and creating programs to disseminate the EFCC principles on preventing/obstructing and combating corruption to make the public aware of them, and in particular, to ensure civil servants understand the issue and have adequate skills and means to perform their job properly, effectively and fairly.
Corruption is the cause of “the horrible, horrible history of failure of leadership and failure of governance” in the developing world. Tackling corruption would be the fastest way to address problems like poverty, disease, and illiteracy.
The EFCC has investigated powerful politicians, businessmen, government and police officers, cyber scammers, and others under Mallam Nuhu Ribadu who has secured more than 150 convictions––against none prior to EFCC’s arrival––and recovered over $5 billion of stolen public funds. But he has also lost three of his staff members to reprisals from the interests he has disturbed. Known in Nigeria as “a messenger of hope” and described as “a hero on the frontlines. It is time to say ‘enough is enough.’ Nigeria is oil-producing countries that still imports 90 percent of its consumption needs and suffers from poverty and lack of basic services. Now for the first time in its history, people are being called to account, stolen resources are being recovered, and the corrupt are being punished. We have the possibility to establish rule of law and accountability.
What we need is training, equipment, and exposure for our staff. We also need your support at the international level. So much of grand corruption is out of our control, as the money goes out of our jurisdiction. If the World Bank can help us retrieve stolen money and ensure there is no safe haven outside, it will help us immensely in our fight internally. There should be no hiding place for the corrupt; treat them like terrorists.
The EFCC’s success has in part been because it both investigates and prosecutes; unlike in Kenya or Ghana, where prosecutors are part of a government cadre and the attorney-general could be a political appointee with no incentive to take on his masters.
Moreover, Nigerian law has been amended so that the high courts can designate special judges to handle EFCC cases. These (so far) 14 judges have delivered the 150-plus convictions. EFCC has gained popularity with the public, but now that it has taken on powerful political interests (“six of whom control 80 percent of the Nigerian media”), he was not expecting anything good to be said about him. It was in this context that international support and scrutiny were critical.
I have seen multinationals and big oil companies play by the rules elsewhere, but behaving badly in Nigeria and Africa because of our collapsed systems. We have to insist ourselves on the rule of law and order; then everyone will behave. Working with the judiciary and police could be a challenge, especially as the Nigerian Constitution insulates the judiciary itself from investigation.