By Godsgift Onyedinefu on September 17, 2020
The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has raised the alarm over what it described as a sinister and dangerous attempt to scrap the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the National Assembly.
The presidential committee said a draft Bill intended to repeal the EFCC Establishment Act 2004 is being circulated by enemies of Nigeria who are “too ashamed to put their names to the draft Bill”.
According to a statement signed by PACAC chairman, Itse Sagay, and made available by the PACAC’s communications officer, Aghogho Agbahor, the committee said the draft Bill seeks to “repeal of the current EFCC Establishment Act; scrap the Commission and replacing it with a weak agency; replace the executive chairman of the EFCC with a director-general who is effectively to be appointed by the Attorney-General”.
“This eliminates the EFCC’s freedom and autonomy and replaces it with an entity under the complete control of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General. The replacement of the Board of EFCC with directors who are effectively to be appointees of the Attorney-General,” the statement said.
The committee said the draft Bill further seeks “the elimination of the position of the secretary of the EFCC, a critical officer who serves as the institutional memory and the administrative head of the agency”.
“Under the proposed Act, the Annual Report of the EFCC is not to be submitted to the National Assembly until it has been passed through the Attorney-General for onward transmission to the National Assembly, thus making the Attorney-General the reporting officer of the agency rather than the chairman or the director-general, as the new Bill is proposing,” it said.
The committee alleged that those behind the move are “the representatives of the corrupt establishment that brought this country to its knees and subjected us to humiliation as a result of an extremely negative reputation internationally”.
The PACAC, in justifying the relevance of the EFCC, argued that the commission has successfully prosecuted about 3,000 persons, including high-profile political office holders, in the last five years whilst the whole of the Ministry of Justice has been underperforming during this period.
It also informed that assets worth about N1 trillion have been recovered by the EFCC during the period, while the recovery of funds looted and taken abroad to different countries, also amounting to about $1 billion, has been due largely to the EFCC.
“All the evidence used in establishing fraud and corruption against P&ID in the recent London case which led to Nigeria being given the opportunity of challenging the $10 billion award made against Nigeria in favour of P&ID was exclusively provided by the EFCC to Nigeria’s London solicitors. This is fulsomely acknowledged by the London Court in its Judgment,” the committee said.
It argued that with the above established facts, the gravity of the proposed change becomes overwhelming.
“When in addition to all this, we recall the well-known proclivity of the Attorney-General for entering nolle procequi in favour of major political and governmental figures, this move to effectively scrap the EFCC becomes more alarming,” the committee said in the statement.
“We therefore call on the National Assembly and all Nigerians to vigorously reject this attempt to perpetrate fraud on the nation by effectively scuttling the EFCC and shutting down Nigeria’s anti-corruption war,” it said.