The US government says the bulk of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) anti-corruption efforts are focused on low and mid-level government officials.
According to its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, most high-profile cases being prosecuted by the agencies remain pending before the courts due to administrative or procedural delays.
“On February 16, President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Abdulrasheed Bawa to replace Ibrahim Magu as head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Bawa, a 17-year veteran of the commission, was the first chairman without a background in the Nigerian Police Force,” the report read.
“The bulk of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s anticorruption efforts remained focused on low- and mid-level government officials, although both organizations brought indictments against various active and former high-level government officials. Many of the corruption cases, particularly the high-profile ones, remained pending before the courts due to administrative or procedural delays.
“In January the assistant commissioner of police, Okubo Aboye, was sentenced to life in prison for accepting bribes in a high-profile kidnapping case in Ekiti State.”
This comes a few months after President Muhammadu Buhari admonished EFCC to avoid being used for partisan politics or getting dragged into personal disputes.
“I must advise the leadership and operatives of this commission to resist the temptation of being used for partisan politics or be dragged into personal disputes. Your job is to serve the nation in its efforts to entrench good governance,’’ he had said.
Sources however told SaharaReporters that the President was only trying to silence the EFCC following the agency’s encounters with some of his political associates, which the affected cronies considered embarrassing.
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, and former governors of Imo and Nasarawa states, Rochas Okorocha and Abdullahi Adamu respectively, had all complained about the anti-corruption agency in the course of doing its job.
They accused the EFCC of being used by their adversaries as a tool for a political witch-hunt.
Adamu is the current National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) after his victory through a consensus at the national convention of the party in March.
“He (Buhari) is using that to silence the EFCC because Rochas Okorocha complained recently. Adamu Abdullahi was embarrassed. Tinubu reportedly was forced to write a statement recently,” one of the sources had said.
During a meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in February, Okorocha sought the intervention of his host over what he described as unjust harassment by the EFCC.
Speaking to correspondents after the meeting, he had said: “I also used this opportunity to intimate Mr President of what is going on between me and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the harassment and intimidation that I’m getting from the EFCC, literally on daily basis, and to inform him that I have court judgment and two court orders for different judgments at different forums, which stop the EFCC from harassing and intimidating me. EFCC has refused to obey the law.
“And so I have to inform Mr President that EFCC should be made to obey the law that established it. And without the law, there wouldn’t be an EFCC. And the desperation with which they go about any affair that concerning me, should stop.
“And I reminded Mr President that recall that sometime ago, the EFCC had claimed that they recovered the sum of N5.9 billion from my account, which the court found out to be untrue.
“In other words, they were biased and they prejudged me. On that basis, the court ruled and ordered that they should not further interrogate and harass me. This has also not been obeyed.
“The court ordered the EFCC to release my international passport, the EFCC has refused to obey. The court gives damages to me for some N500million for EFCC to pay. EFCC has not paid that. “Rather than doing that, on the day of my declaration, EFCC went on the press to announce that I’m being prosecuted for some criminal charges of N2.9billion and no more than N5.9billion.
“So, I said as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and one that stands on the side of the law, he should bring this to the attention of the EFCC.”