Obstacles against Nigeria’s anti-graft war

The corrupt man is everywhere, the man in the street, the man next door, the man in the church or mosque, the man in the market or the departmental store, the policeman on beat patrol and the soldier at the check point. -Chuba Okadigbo, 1987)The present administration came to power through change mantra of President Buhari with his top three cardinal promises in economic development, fighting insecurity and corruption. Still the country is languishing in extreme poverty as a result of corruption and fighting it remains a mere political statement, so to speak.

With the slow pace of fighting corruption since the administration came to power, Nigerians are alienated, angry and fed up with the way the fighting is being executed by the administration, as there is not much to convince the citizens. Regrettably, it is on the watch of the present administration, the administration that came to power through change mantra, that the country’s  corruption perception index published by Transparency International shows no improvement at all. 

By the current ranking, Nigeria is now the second most corrupt country in West Africa with Guinea-Bissau the only country more corrupt than Nigeria in the sub-region. The country scored 26 out of 100 points, a drop from the 27 points that it has maintained since 2017. In the 2018 index, Nigeria rose by four places on the index from 148 to 144 and also the dropped two places on the 2019 ranked 146 out of the 180 countries.

Since 2015 Transparency International reports indicated the  administration’s war against corruption seems  not effective in the light of the poor performance of the EFCC in several high-profile corruption cases like defencegate and most publicised  Diezani former petroleum minister.
But the trouble with anti corruption agency in Nigeria is clearly lack of political will from leaders of the agencies assigned with responsibilities in  fighting corruption in the country as  corruption cases have been on the increase. Anti corruption agencies  have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they are not able to translate their anti– corruption “crusade” into action.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Establishment Act (2004) empowers the commission to prevent, investigate, prosecute and penalise economic and financial crimes and is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of other laws and regulations relating to economic and financial crimes.
Almost 17 years since the existence of the agency, strangely, all former chairmen of the commission were all alleged to have abused their office with some doses of corrupt practices. Mostly the war was lost in the battle for supremacy between the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and the EFCC.  

What coincidence, both of them  had one thing in common – the controversies trailed either their appointments or performances in office? The commission’s pioneer chairman was alleged to have been involved in abuse of human rights of suspects, among other things, and was not only removed from office but demoted from the rank of assistant inspector general of police to a commissioner of police. 

Farida Waziri was sacked by President Goodluck Jonathan claiming that she was removed from office in the national interest.  it was also alleged that she had  compromised the investigation into financial misappropriation against former governors of Bayelsa and Edo states.
Ibrahim Lamorde who replaced Waziri, also  became embroiled in controversy in 2015 after the Nigerian Senate alleged that $5bn had gone missing at the EFCC. Ibrahim Magu replaced Lamorde but the upper chamber  refused to confirm him twice as boss  of the agency due to “security reports. He too was booted out with clouds allegations against him. 

It is a herculean taskbefore  the new chairman of the commission. He  knows that ex-chairmen of the commission have one thing in common – they are disgraced from office due to  lack of transparency in discharging the fight against corruption. Regaining the confidence of Nigerians in turning around the commission to achieve its objective should be his top priority; Nigerians and the  world are watching him. 

Definitely, Nigerians  are expecting much from Mr. Bawa – to hit the ground running because corruption cases have been on the increase despite the anti-corruption crusade and it’salleged those responsible for eradicating corruption  have themselves become corrupt. 
Mr Chairman, you shoukd be an agent of change in fighting the common enemy that has frustrated the realization of the country’s economic development despite the enormous natural and human resources in Nigeria. 

For the new chairman, he should strengthen  collective effort through citizen participation towards fighting corruption. This will  increase the chances of    engaging  other stakeholders, especially the media and civil society organizations, in  providing  information to the public in line with the Freedom of Information Act 2011. 
Let the chairman use his knowledge to implement reforms and ensure a fair and balanced fight against corruption in Nigeria as an official who passed through the ranks of the commission. He should ensure synergy between the EFCC and its sister anti-graft agencies like ICPC, CCB, CCT and other  law enforcement agencies. This will achieve better results in the fight against corruption.  
The slow pace of court cases, with  financial settlements made by wealthy individuals and entities outside of the courtroom has also impeded successful prosecutions.  The convictions of two former governors, Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye, have failed to convince the public of any improvement. The commission should endeavour to be thorough before court filing and processes.
For EFCC to achieve its objectives, there is need for the commission to collaborate with the Office of the Attorney General, National Assembly and the judiciary towards establishment of special anti-corruption tribunal to facilitate speedy determination of hundreds of corruption cases before the courts.

Records show that the new chairman has a  passion for the war, so he should have personnel with similar passion to work with and scheme a positive image for the war; those that are sheep in the wolf skin within the commission are to be sent away.
    Dukawa writes from Kano via [email protected]