By Iyorundu Benjamin
The activities of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) are quite obvious now. From the arrests of top government officials, past and present, to the tracking down of internet fraudsters commonly known as yahoo boys.
EFCC was formed in order to check the corrupt practices of individuals in both the public and private sectors. The commission was formed in 2003 during the administration of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo. The commission’s chairman is usually by the President. Ibrahim Magu is the current chairman of the commission.
It’s quite safe to say the failure of politics and governance in Nigeria is traceable to the phenomenon of corruption. The worsening rate of poverty in the country is as a result of two factors; reckless mismanagement of national resources and political corruption. The socio-economic and political implications of corruption are massive and intimidating. Lack of accountability and associated corruption has contributed substantially to the country’s underdevelopment and poverty; the gross violation of rights; the dearth of human dignity; the absence of the full realisation of national and individual potential; and the negation of social justice in the country.
It is part of efforts to curtail this trend that the EFCC was formed. There was a need to curb the trend of corruption and lack of accountability by those who are either vertically or horizontally placed in positions of authority. This move became imperative in response to pressure from the international community which named Nigeria as one of the countries that did not wage a convincing war against money laundering.
The body is empowered by law to investigate, prevent and prosecute offenders who engage in money laundering, embezzlement, bribery, looting and all forms of corrupt practices, illegal arms deal, smuggling, human trafficking, and child labour, illegal oil bunkering, illegal mining, tax evasion, foreign exchange malpractices including counterfeiting of currency, theft of intellectual property and piracy, open market abuse, dumping of toxic wastes, and prohibited goods.
The Commission is also responsible for identifying, tracing, freezing, confiscating, or seizing proceeds derived from terrorist activities. EFCC is also host to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), vested with the responsibility of collecting suspicious transactions reports (STRs) from financial and designated non-financial institutions, analyzing and disseminating them to all relevant government agencies and other Financial Intelligence Formations all over the world.
Punishment prescribed in the EFCC Establishment Act range from combination of payment of fine, forfeiture of assets and up to five years imprisonment depending on the nature and gravity of the offence. Conviction for terrorist financing and terrorist activities attracts life imprisonment.
Some individuals are still not convinced about the activities of the EFCC. A major complaint of the commission is lack of autonomy. This is because the commission has been headed by northerners since its inception in 2003.
So far, the commission has done its best to fight corruption which is evident in news. Almost everyday, a case of arrest of offenders by the EFCC is reported. Some level of convictions have equally been secured.
It is therefore expedient that citizens assist the commission and help to fight the menace.
Iyorundu is a graduate Mass Communication from Benue State University, Makurdi.