This a Nigeria law enforcement agency established in 2003 for the aim to prevent, investigate, prosecute and penalize economic and financial crimes, it is also charged with the responsibility or enforcing the provisions of other laws and regulations relating to economic and financial crimes.
The functions of EFCC are enumerated below:
- The investigation of all financial crimes
- The co – ordination and enforcement of all economic and financial crimes laws
- The adoption of measures to eradicate the commission of economic and financial crimes
- Collaborating with government bodies both within and outside Nigeria carrying on functions wholly or in part analogues with those of the commission etc.
The EFCC has the power to cause investigation to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organization has committed any offence under its Act or other law relating to economic and financial crimes. It also has the power to cause investigations to be conducted into the properties of any person if it appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income.
The establishment of the EFCC was due to the drastic rate of financial crimes and other related crimes in Nigeria. Hence, since the establishment of the commission, the rate or crime with respect to money laundering has drastically come to a reduction.
For example, In September 2006 under the leadership of Nuhu Ribadu as its chairman, the commission had 31 out the 36 states governors under investigation for corruption.
The Agency has as well addressed financial corruption by prosecuting and convicting a number of high profile corrupt individuals ranging from Nigerians former chief law enforcement officer to several bank chief executives. The agency has as well tried its best to curtail the rate of cyber crimes which was in vogue before the establishments of the commission. The commission in the perfection of its work has made many, investigations, arrest and conviction of high profile criminals who indulge in all manners of financial crimes.
However, irrespective of the above achievements, EFCC has over the years been ridiculed and highly criticized by majority of the general public; it accuses the commission of selective operation in the carrying out of its duties. It has also be said to be comatose instead of being active in the performance of its duties. The commission has also been accused of aiding corrupt presidents who use the commission to manipulate and intimidate their possible oppositions. Several Nigerians have fallen victim of the selective and vindictive arrests and interrogation by the EFCC.
For example, during the third term bid of president Obasanjo, Governors who stood against him where publicly embarrassed by the EFCC.
It has overly been criticized simply because the EFCC was an institution set up without putting in place major nittygritties which makes anti – corruption thick or how can one explain the confusion in defining a clear cut distinction between the power of the EFCC and those of the office of the attorney general, thereby causing friction when issues of handling high profile corruption cases comes up which is mostly of interest to the latter. There have also been incidents of missing case files from the EFCC general office.
In recent years, it has become a common norm in the EFCC to first begin a media campaign against an individual, governor or politician who either has lost through the ballot or fallen out of favour with the power in the Aso – Rock. The bold assertion is seen from the fact that since the inception of the EFCC, coupled with almost all the cases of prosecution pursued, the public has often been treated with a culture of arraigning suspects in court first and later seeking adjournment to enable it conclude investigation with an array of amendments of pleadings filed in several courts, the EFCC stops at nothing to further ensure name calling, request for the transfer of case files, count shopping and all forms of merry – go – rounding.
Perhaps, the most egregious EFCC failure came in roll, when it was revealed that massive theft had drained the fuel subsidy scheme of at least six million dollars more than 20% of Nigerian’s budget yearly. With the bill for the fuel subsidy running wildly over budget without legislative oversight, Senator Abubakar Bukola Soraki and Senate President David Mark initiated an investigation. The list of importers allegedly involved in the multi – billion dollar scam included the names of many prominent Nigerians, including some government officials.
The few arrests made by the commission gave rise to the familiar charade: the culprits were brought in for questioning but released promptly on bail and after endless delays in the courts; their bails were allowed to go cold. In November 2012, EFCC head Ibrahim Lamorde to the Senate complained to the Senate the financial and political clout of accused was compromising the legal process. As of yet, not one conviction had been made.
In conclusion, the EFCC as an agent established to fight corruption has not lived up to the standards for which it was set up, although it achieved many glories in the past. Thus, in other for the commission to restore back it image and the respect and confidence the country once had for it, it must be able to do its job without fear or favour. It must clean up its Act because it has a crucial role to play in the fight against corruption. It must try to resist pressure from public officers to turn it into an instrument to intimidate other and must redouble its efforts in carrying out its assignment without discrimination to reassure Nigerians of its commitment, sincerity of purpose and fairness. Hence its Acts must be an instrument to fight Fraud and not an instrument of Fraud.