Combating crimes in Nigeria
Sir: Economic and financial crimes have over the past decades been a hindrance to Nigeria’s development, economic prosperity and greatness. Nigeria, a country flowing with milk and honey (abundant natural and human resources), found itself in the middle of the wind struggling for survival. This unfortunate situation can, among others, be attributed to the various forms of economic and financial crimes going on in the country. Resources that can be used for critical infrastructure and developmental projects are lost through criminal acts.
Such criminal acts include; money laundering, terrorist financing, tax evasion, bribery and corruption, massive contract fraud, pension fraud, wire fraud, internet fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, charity fraud, identity theft, embezzlement, market abuse, and traffic of influences. Economic and financial crimes do not only undermine treasuries, they also cause social damage, general indignation and therefore need a holistic fight if we don’t want it to completely ruin our system. The fight may be challenging but it is a must if Nigeria really wants greatness.
In fighting economic and financial crimes, there is a need for us to build strong institutions. These strong institutions will in turn help in blocking leakages and ensuring viability and accountability. We need to use technology to build electronic platforms that can help in managing government finances. We should create analytic apps that make sharing with citizens’ information on revenues and expenditures easy.
We need a strong and vibrant judicial system that will improve speed and quality of justice delivery. We can have “Special Courts” where only criminals and suspects of economic and financial crimes will be tried. This will thus help in reducing unnecessary red tapism, delays and adjournments in our usual courts.
We equally need to ensure independence and transparency of the anti-crime agencies. Nigeria’s anti-crime agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) need to be devoid of political and powerful influences. The anti-crime agencies need to forge partnerships with intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, civil society organisations and other organisations with similar mandates.
Nigeria needs to provide platforms for citizens to make complaints and report suspected cases of economic and financial crimes. With the advancement of technology, we can create new methods of citizen reporting. An example is the Eagle Eye; the EFCC’s mobile app for reporting of crimes. Lots of complaints have trailed the app, and it would be better if we have more reporting platforms that ensure anonymity. It is not necessary we prosecute whistleblowers when they ‘blew unethically’, we should rather sensitise them on the need for fair and truthful blowing.
The Nigerian government should maintain the political will, devoid of party affiliation, political patronage and influence to ensure the trial of individuals, officials, or groups suspected of crimes. With a successful fight against economic and financial crimes, Nigeria can get back on the path of greatness. God help Nigeria!
Akindele Abdulqayyum Olalekan wrote from Ibadan.