In the battle against corruption in Nigeria, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) plays a pivotal role in investigating and prosecuting economic and financial crimes. However, over the years, concerns have arisen regarding the need for reforms and restructuring within the agency.
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the national chapter of Transparency International (TI-Nigeria), has offered a comprehensive set of recommendations to reposition the EFCC for greater effectiveness and transparency in the fight against corruption.
This was contained in a statement signed by Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre(CISLAC)& Head of Transparency International Nigeria.
The EFCC was established in April 2003 in response to international pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Money Laundering, which had identified Nigeria as non-cooperative in efforts to combat money laundering. Since its establishment, the EFCC has made strides in prosecuting financial crimes but still faces challenges that hinder its effectiveness.
CISLAC’s recommendations encompass a range of areas critical to improving the EFCC’s performance:
“Strengthening Frameworks for Effectiveness and Efficiency: There is a pressing need to revisit the EFCC Establishment Act to ensure it aligns with public expectations and provides a robust framework for the nomination and appointment of the EFCC Chairman. This reform should enhance competence, integrity, and reduce political interference.
“Strengthening Measures to Prevent Corruption: The EFCC should explore opportunities for preventive mechanisms and strategic collaborations with other agencies for real-time data and information-sharing to prevent corruption effectively.
“Improving the Quality of Convictions: While the EFCC records numerous convictions, the quality of these convictions needs improvement. There should be a focus on thorough investigations and the pursuit of convictions for politically exposed persons (PEP) and others who have been on the EFCC’s wanted list.
“Transparency and Accountability: The EFCC should demonstrate greater transparency in its operations, budgets, and expenditures. Adopting an asset declaration system available for public scrutiny can enhance transparency and public confidence.
“Professional Conduct: The conduct of EFCC officials, especially in arrests and investigations, must be professional, ensuring fairness and adherence to the rule of law. Public engagement should also be strengthened to maintain public support and trust.
“Strengthening Collaborations: The EFCC should intensify collaborations with national agencies, international security organizations, media, religious bodies, and civil rights groups to reduce corruption and its impact.
“Complementing the Reforming of the Financial System: To mitigate illicit financial flows, the EFCC should work closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other institutions to prevent money laundering and tax evasion in the banking sector.
“Asset Recovery: The Proceeds of Crime Act should be effectively implemented to recover stolen assets. The EFCC should focus on investigating politically exposed persons (PEP) and individuals implicated in the Pandora Papers, Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, Genko scandal, and FinCEN Files.
“Independence of the Commission: The EFCC should strive for independence and act in the best interests of the public, free from political influence, while avoiding public confrontations and protecting political interests” the statement revealed.