By Collins Iheanacho
If there was any doubt that Nigeria is unprepared for the war against corruption, that doubt was further re-enforced on Monday when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a leading anti-corruption agency that it is broke. These startling revelations were made before Senator Victor Lar-led Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption.
Secretary of the board anti-graft agency, Mr. Emmanuel Adegboyega who made the disclosure to a stunned audience also revealed that the Commission had less than N2 million in its account. The disclosures were fallouts of the Senate public hearing on the Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIA). Adegboyega also informed the panel that the dire financial position of EFCC was in spite of several appeals for adequate funding, noting that the commission had been starved of funds to finance its operations.
“I could recollect when the committee paid us (EFCC) an oversight visit and I did make our financial position known to the committee. As at now, EFCC does not have N2 million in its account. We don’t have money.” He lamented. “We (EFCC) have been complaining that no money has been released for us for operations. “If we can afford to pay salary this month, that is all. That is the situation under which we operate,” he revealed.
The EFCC, through the Secretary also kicked against the proposed creation of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency on the ground that such an agency, in line with recognised best practices in the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America, should remain a secret agency under an existing anti-corruption agency.
The EFCC secretary, while presenting the position paper of the agency, also faulted the regulatory powers granted the proposed NFIA.
According to Adegboyega, the proposed NFIA, if autonomous, would be exploited by corrupt politicians, adding that “it is also open to a floodgate of injunctions, retraining orders and other litigation to stall anti-corruption trials.”
He, therefore, told the Senate panel that “the Bill is unnecessary and should be jettisoned.”
This however went against the grain of some other agencies’ positions such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which supported the establishment of the financial intelligence agency with a caveat that Section 6(g) of the proposed Bill be deleted.
Also the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) gave their support to the creation of NFIA.
By Collins Iheanacho