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Nigeria Beware Of EFCC’s New And Dangerous Pursuit

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EFCC Condemns Unauthorized Use Of Its Operational Identities For Skit Making

BY Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire

I just read with no surprise the news about the pursuit of the new EFCC Chairman. He is seeking new “legislation against unexplained wealth”, which he believes will serve as a means of checking the criminal activities of treasury looters in Nigeria.

This is flatly a deception and misdirection on the part of EFCC. We have sufficient laws already in the books if the EFCC really wants to fight unexplained wealth and treasury looting in Nigeria. There is no need for another vague and overbreadth law that would only arm the EFCC and enable it to engage in further political persecution of opponents of Government or critics of the EFCC.

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If truly the EFCC wants to go after unexplained wealth, the EFCC should start with its staff, especially the former Chairmen of EFCC. Every one of the past Chairmen of EFCC became much richer at the end of their term than what their salaries and official earnings would justify. Ribadu, Waziri, Lamode, Magu, Baawa all ended up richer than could be justified by their earnings or they were actually accused of corruption while in office. That is where the EFCC should start. Other officials of the EFCC became billionaires just after or while serving in EFCC. What is the explanation for their wealth? Many of the current ministers and top officials of government cannot explain their wealth.

Furthermore, the law that EFCC is seeking will by nature be too broad. It will be a net wide enough to catch over 80% of Nigerian rich. Yet, EFCC does not have the capacity to investigate and prosectute even 10% of such people. What this means is that EFCC will necessarily have to be highly selective in choosing who it prosecutes under such new law. It is dangerous to allow such selective prosecution because the EFCC will easily target certain people while leaving others free. It will further turn the EFCC into an instrument of political control. And that is probably the objective behind this exceptional pursuit.

From its records and given that corruption has worsened in Nigeria since the establishment of the EFCC, we should be circumspect about expanding the powers of the EFCC. We need to make the EFCC accountable for the powers given to it over the years. The most needed law in Nigeria today is a law that will make the EFCC accountable, not a law that will expand its powers to persecute opponents of the government in power. Maybe the new Chairman of the EFCC should make a public declaration of his assets to enable us check at the end of his tenure whether he can explain his wealth then.

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