Wednesday, October 20, 2021

EFCC, ICPC not going after powerful, corrupt government officials: U.S.

The rate of ICPC and EFCC’s officers’ propensity to collect bribes are 25 and 23 per cent, respectively.

• April 1, 2021
EFCC Chairman Abdulrasheed Bawa, and ICPC Chariman Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye
EFCC Chairman Abdulrasheed Bawa, and ICPC Chariman Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye

The United States has accused the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of only probing “low- and mid-level government officials.”

The U.S. stated this in its newly-released ‘2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria.’

“The bulk of ICPC and EFCC anti-corruption efforts remained focused on low- and mid-level government officials,” the report said.

The EFCC, charged with enforcing laws on money laundering and other financial crimes, and the ICPC focused on public service bribery are seen mainly as witch-hunt tools by critics.

The U.S. accused the agencies of going after low-level officials but delayed procedures in cases of high-level officials indicted for financial crimes.

“In 2019, both organisations started investigations into and 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 court due to administrative or procedural delays.”

Over time, there have been fraud cases against top government officials, some of which critics lamented were stalled at investigation stages.

In 2017, a top-ranking presidential aide, Okoi Obono-Obla, alleged that ICPC and EFCC defied the directives of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), leading to loss of high-profile corruption cases.

Mr Obono-Obla, who cited how fraud cases against governors were delayed for years, noted, “Although the Attorney General of the Federation has the power under both the constitution and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 to make a request of any case file that is pending either with the police, the ICPC, the EFCC or any of the prosecuting agencies, we met a brick wall when we requested the files of the high-profile cases of former governors from the EFCC and the ICPC.

“They don’t cooperate with us. We cannot use a whip to start beating them. But I expect that the rules of public service require that if letters are written by the office of the AGF, those letters should be honoured. They don’t want to work with the office of the AGF.”

In 2013, the ICPC and EFCC were identified as top government agencies embroiled in bribery and corruption.

A 2013 National Crime Victimisation and Safety survey conducted by the CLEEN Foundation in collaboration with the Macarthur Foundation also described Nigeria’s judicial system as weak and corrupt.

The survey described the weak judiciary as constraints to fight against corruption while pointing out that the rate of ICPC and EFCC’s officers’ propensity to collect bribes are 25 and 23 per cent, respectively.

CLEEN said the survey aimed at tracking the crime pattern in the country was conducted with 11,518 respondents.

“The findings of the survey showed that bribery and corruption among government officials in Nigeria remain high. Nearly one out of every four respondents admitted having paid a bribe or having been asked to pay bribes by government officials before services could be rendered to them,” said the survey report, according to The Standard Gazette.

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