Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Friday, said the existence of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is critical to the fight against high-profile corruption cases in Nigeria.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement said the creation of the EFCC by the then administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo over two decades ago has done creditably well to instill fear in the minds of outlaws in and out of government.
The group, however, called on the Federal Government to open up the top hierarchy of the EFCC to competent professionals from all over the country so that the agency won’t appear as a Northernised agency whereby only Northern-Muslim heads the agency as chairman.
Two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba and Ebun Adegboruwa had called for the scrapping of the commission, saying it operates outside the Constitution and duplicates the function of the Nigeria Police Force given that most operatives in the EFCC are drafted from the police.
The senior lawyers stated that since the EFCC is a creation of the National Assembly, it does not have the power to interfere with the activities of state governments, going by Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution. The SANs also relied on Section 214 of the Constitution that there shall be only one police force and the EFCC is performing police functions.
However, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The existence of the EFCC is one of the noteworthy things that happened in Nigeria since the return to democracy in 1999. Just in 2022 alone, the EFCC secured unprecedented 3,785 convictions across all its commands in 2022.
“The constitution in Section 15(5) is clear that the duty of government is to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of office. Also, the EFCC since creation despite limitations and imperfections has done well to instill fear in the minds of outlaws in and out of government.
“The EFCC is not the same as police but a law enforcement agency in matters of anti-corruption which is why even a one-time Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun, was prosecuted and jailed by the EFCC. Also, the current chairman of EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa is not a policeman. If there is even a law supporting the creation of private detectives so what stops the Nigerian State from creating the EFCC as Olusegun Obasanjo did as President? Absolute nothing!
“The EFCC is playing significant role but it needs internal reforms to open up the hierarchy so it doesn’t appear like a Northernised agency whereby only Northerners can head the agency as chairman and chief executives. Also, the job of the Chairman can be administration and control but that of Finance should be divested.”