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TCN wants EFCC insulated from political control




A CIVIL rights group ,Transparency Coalition of Nigeria (TCN), yesterday urged the President-elect, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) to insulate the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from manipulations by politicians to witch hunt perceived enemies.

Also, the former director, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku, has said that in order for the fight against corruption and terrorism to succeed, the country needs to develop strong legal framework for financial intelligence.

Secretary General of the TCN, Mr. Peter Gimba, in Abuja, said the group was concerned about the habit of the executive arm of government to use the EFCC for political purposes, a practice that undermines the credibility of the anti-crime commission.

“The reasons for the establishment of the EFCC remain genuine and the case for the commission remains strong. However, the habitual use of the EFCC by the executive to muzzle or intimidate its real or perceived opponents into submission is a worrisome development that has diminished public confidence in the EFCC and raised questions about the government’s commitment to due process, accountability and transparency,” Gimba said.

“TCN, therefore, calls on the President-elect, to strengthen the EFCC and insulate it from political control, especially by those who seek to use the commission as weapon of intimidation and blackmail targeted at political opponents.”

Gimba stressed that, just as any accused person is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, EFCC cases should not be taken as proof of wrongdoing on the part of the accused.

Noting that dealing with financial intelligence information within and outside the country is a sure way of checking corruption and terrorism, and can only be achieved with a strong intelligence unit, Ibekaku said in Enugu that insurgency and terrorism had thrived in Nigeria because the nation lacks a strong financial unit that could trace sources of funding for the group as other apex financial world bodies had ably done.

According to her, the NFIU, which she said was created in 2006 under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has not operated effectively because it is subject to the commission despite its scale of responsibilities.

Therefore, she urged the National Assembly to expedite action on the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Centre (NFIC) bill, which has been pending since 2013. π

“The FIU is a body that assists countries where it is located to generate financial intelligence. For example, some past governors involved in looted funds, how did the UK Government trace these funds? It was through the financial intelligence unit and one thing we realised working in the FIU is that the NFIU was not properly set up.

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