Opinion

Scrap EFCC now

by Promise ADIELE

I am calling for the scrapping, abolishing, and dissolution of Nigeria’s financial crime watchdog, The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) without further delay. By this call, I am not subscribing to the idea that Nigerians employed in the agency should be thrown into our constricting unemployment space. The entire staff should still be retained in a different flank of the Nigerian Police Force. But the financial crime watch body so constituted should be scrapped immediately because it has become redundant, expendable, and comatose.

The primary responsibility of the agency is to fight economic financial crimes against the Nigerian state no matter who is involved. Among other things, the EFCC is required to investigate, uncover, and bring to the book citizens living beyond their means. But regrettably, the EFCC has abandoned ship, abnegated its primary responsibilities, and abjured the distinguished virtues of its establishment.

Financial crime in Nigeria has exceeded scandalous levels, stretching towards appalling, abominable heights under the watch of the EFCC. If Buhari does not scrap EFCC, let the topic become part of the Nigerian socio-political discourse. So perhaps, my advice and opinion that EFCC should be scrapped are mainly directed to the next occupant of Aso Rock, that is, if Nigerians, in their grovelling self-debasement and materialistic fantasizing will elect a good leader

There is no justifiable reason for the EFCC to continue to exist seeing that financial crime, in all its predatory, sinister devaluating potential, has almost crippled the country. People accused of various crimes, those who have plundered the Nigerian exchequer at different times and under different guises now shamelessly flaunt the same before Nigerians. Many of these people are lawmakers. People with criminal cases hanging on their heads make laws in Nigeria. Many of these people are aspiring to become Nigeria’s President, some want to be Governors, others want to be Ministers too and many others are jostling to occupy one leadership position or another while their criminal files occupy large spaces in EFCC’s office. While flaunting their filthy lucre, they ride their chariots over the cringing, degenerate, deprived masses whose misery they have enthroned.

Recently the media was awash with reports that the Federal Government of Nigeria trained 177 youths in Smartphone repairs with a whopping sum of N5.9 billion naira in Kano State through the N-Power program. Mathematically, this means that N33.3 million naira was spent on each youth in the scheme. How brutally wicked and unconscionable can people be? How on planet earth can a government defend such obscenity? As soon as the news broke out, I expected our financial crime watchdog to go to work and arrest all the officials involved in the scam at least for questioning. But the EFCC did not bestir. They slept like a lame, crippled mass of flesh, pretending not to know that Nigerians have been robbed and the exchequer vanquished.

In what seems like an after- thought, the Federal Government, perhaps realizing that the press had uncovered their oozing, lucre dyspeptic underbelly, immediately issued a statement denying the information as misleading. The Federal Government did not deny spending N5.9 billion naira, no. Rather, they admitted that instead of 177 youths, the funds were spent on 16,629 youths. The truth is that 177 youths were trained, simple. The 16, 629 figure was an afterthought by the government. Indeed, it is criminal to expend such a mind-boggling amount of money on the training of 177 youths while our university teaching hospitals are a crying necropolis.

In the same vein, Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, a public servant ostensibly earning salaries, recently in Kebbi State distributed thirty exotic cars to politicians. The gesture came some days after he declared his intentions to contest the 2023 governorship election in the state. The cars include fourteen Mercedes Benz (GLK 2022 model) valued at 40 million naira each, eight Prado SUVs 2021 model, valued at 45 million naira each, four Toyota Hilux 2021 model valued at 35 million naira each, and four Lexus LX 570 2021 model valued at 95 million naira each.

Hapless and befuddled Nigerians read the invidious details of the Greek gift with chagrin and a sense of loss. It grates on the soul of a genuine citizen how a public officer will donate such expensive gifts to possibly influence delegates towards the APC governorship primaries in Kebbi State. If EFCC was alive to its responsibilities, Abubakar Malami would have been answering questions now explaining how and where he got so much money to indulge in that kind of reckless ostentation and vulgar display of wealth. But EFCC has looked away and Abubakar Malami is a free man, perhaps planning to donate more exotic cars and other material items towards the State’s party primaries soon.

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If there was no agency of government saddled with the responsibility to investigate and arrest financial criminals, Nigerians wouldn’t have bothered much. But the certainty that there is an agency of government with the responsibility to watch, arrest, and investigate those who indulge in financial impropriety drives the pain deeper. The Nigerian Senate is populated by suspected criminals, those who have cases to answer with big files at EFCC. Godswill Akpabio was accused of mismanag- ing N100 billion naira State funds by the EFCC. Today he is a serving minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Theodore Orji was ac- cused of mismanaging N27 billion naira State funds by the EFCC. Today he is a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Ibrahim Shakarau was accused of mismanaging N950 million naira of Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign funds by the EFCC. Today he is a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Ifeanyi Ubah was accused of N43 billion naira subsidy fraud by the EFCC. Today he is a strong member of the Nigerian Senate. Yet, there are many more.

It is this kind of existing double standard by the EFCC that has necessitated a call for their immediate scrapping. To look away while those accused of financial crimes in the country, especially government officials walk the streets while hounding petty thieves whose motives are driven by hunger is to demonstrate pathetic irresponsibility. Towards party primaries at all levels, politicians are barring their fangs, sharing billions amid hunger and deprivation in the country.

EFCC should either do their job or close shop and go home. Nigerians deserve more respect as they confront survival headlong. EFCC should speak up now or keep quiet forever.

Dr. Adiele is Convener of the Third Force Movement and a member of The Trumpet’s Editorial Board.

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