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When the hunter becomes the hunted

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Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). Photo: WHITENIGERIAN

In Nigeria, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is the agency responsible for thundering through the economic crimes and hunting down money Launderers like a deer.

The Economic Crimes detail include investigation of cases involving money laundering, check forgery, check washing, counterfeit checks, non-sufficient funds checks, counterfeit credit cards, fraudulent use of credit cards, fraudulently possession of credit cards and such likes.

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The agency was established in 2003 in some measure, the pressure from Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) which mentioned Nigeria as one of twenty three countries hampered the international community efforts to fight money laundering. It was one of the most commendable agencies created by the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo administration.

Since then the EFCC has fought corruption and partners with several agencies like the FBI, metropolitan Police, German Police, Canadian Police, USAID, DFID, the World Bank, among others. The cooperation of bilateral partners and foreign donors such as European Union also aided the fight against corruption in Nigeria. Corruption has turned a hale and hearty economy into a pale economy as public office holders milked the system to deny millions of Nigerians access to the most basic health and education services.

The fight against crimes in Nigeria has turned to a cyclical pattern of great and poor performance; when it seems she’s making progress in the fight against corruption, the demon practically fight back and dents the images of the nation like a punched car. On President Muhammadu Buhari fighting corruption, Professor Lumumba, former director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, said, ‘No matter how good your idea is, it must be sold to others and they must buy into it. That is how you institutionalize the idea. You cannot be a lone warrior in this matter because the children of darkness hunt like a pack of wolves and they will devour you if you are alone.” In an interview with Sahara Reporters.
 
The twinkling in the sun danced on the surface of the water forming a ripple in the people’s eyes, in other words, words were imprisoned from their mouths when they learnt the former EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu is being investigated from alleged financial misconducts. “When people have power in their hands, they felt that they are lords unto themselves and wielded power arbitrarily but when the table turned against them they felt that the hunter has become the hunted,” said an anonymous man, a photographer and Public Relation expert who resides at Ikeja, Lagos. But a question remained: has the hunter become the hunted truly? The sun was setting yet the sky to the west was streaked with red and orange, that was on Monday, July 6, 2020 when the former EFCC boss was detained to answer various cases of official misconduct and financial irregularities leveled against him. Allegations were made by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, who demanded for the removal of the erstwhile acting Chairman of the EFCC , Ibrahim Magu in a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari.

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One of the allegations was to account for the sum of N700 million meant for training of the commission’s operatives. The training, it was gathered, had not been held. Also springs of information further revealed that the 332 seized properties worth billions of naira was internationally concealed by planners to cover up more findings. As it is, he must prove the weighty allegations hanging around his neck like the sword of Damocles. The Economic and Financial Crime Commission should be strengthened making them truly independent. I think the constant selection of the EFCC boss from among the serving policing officers within the Nigeria Police should be looked into.

We also have capable hands among other sectors of the society that can head the agency. He was the chief investigator during Ribadu‘s time, his conviction rate was excellent. It is noteworthy to point out that, during Magu’s reign he has successfully arraigned and prosecuted prominent political figures on corruption charges and has recovered billions of dollars and hundreds of properties. There are so many theories surrounding Magu’s trial but one fact we can’t shy away from is that the former EFCC is not immune to being investigated but he deserves fair hearing. 

Good a thing, an independent body has been set up to look into the aforementioned allegations, the panel must take an objective route. Largely, EFCC is the only Nigerian Government institution that barks and claws the impunity enjoyed by corrupt and powerful political elite, anti-corruption bodies like the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC)) and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) must wake up and complement the efforts of EFCC, they could be a tripartite outfits that fight all financial crimes that threaten the strategic, political and economic interests of Nigeria. It is an open secret that corruption and poor governance are key factors holding back Nigeria’s development, and until it is fought impartially, things will continue to look hopeless as a frost in spring.

Anjorin wrote from Lagos.

olusanyaanjorin@gmail.com

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