THE ROLE OF ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIME COMMISSION IN GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY BETWEEN 2004-2015
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The main focus of the research study is the impact of EFCC in the public sectors accountability. Economic and financial crime commission is popularly known as EFCC. Crimes have been associated with man since his fall. Crime remain elusives and ever strives to hide itself in the most unlikely places.
Our Country has been adjudged as corrupt. We are said to have been in “419” bug. Some people have tagged Nigeria a ‘financial terrorist’ Nation on account of the volume of financial crimes that emanate from Nigeria. This crime is becoming a culture in Nigeria both in private and public sectors. But the crime is more on public sector because power corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely. They are more engaged in crime because of immunity clause covering them. That is why the formal and first chairman of Economic and Financial Crime Commission [EFCC] [Nuhu Ribadu] in his statement release by BBC news on Thursday, 28 September 2006 by 08:37 Nigeria time and GTM 09:37 UK that almost all of Nigeria’s State governors are being investigated for corruption, the anti-graft agency head said. Nuhu Ribadu told the Nigeria Senate that 31 out of 36 State governors were being investigated and that 15 of them would be charged in the coming weeks.
He also said that the world biggest thief was Nigeria but was prevented from naming him. Critics of the president Olusegun Obasanjo say that fight against corruption is being used as a political tool but Ribadu denies these charges.
He said that Nigeria governors enjoy immunity from prosecution while in office and the Country is regularly ranked as one of the world most corrupt Countries .He added, “if we all live in the us , all of us will be in prison by now, because the things we do here cannot be tolerated there . By this statement, Ribadu is implying that all of us are corrupt but I personally did not believe in that. What I believe is that about 90% of us are corrupt. He rated then Zamfara State Governor [Sanithmed Yerima]” as the worst case of corruption because it was direct stealing, no third party.
So many other public servants have been tried and convicted. These men are the people we respect and call honorable. They walk and drive around the country in serene with the purpose of building the Nation, but the question is what good have they done or have in mind for this Country? The police man stopping for search, is he doing it for the love of our Country or is he doing it for the sake of his own satisfaction interest of extortion? Likewise, other public servants.
In our Country Nigeria, we have about 43,953 Lawyers call to bar, 707 high court and shariah court judges, 47 federal high court of justices, 46 court of appeal justices and 15 justices of the Supreme court of Nigerian. Nigeria spend about N350,000,000 annually on this people. Apart from that, many are being called to bar annually. Despite all these things, I am painfully aware of the fact that crime is increasing instead of decreasing. While we now have legislation to regulate the conduct of public sectors for corrupt practices, the vices are still very much with us. Bank frauds are in upsurge, abuse and manipulation are still the stock in trade of many banks. 419 still looms large, money laundry from corrupts proceeds is visible. It is this circumstances that us threatened to impose councilor measure on Nigeria in 2004. If she did nothing to update her looms and take pains to fund the perpetrators of economic and financial crimes.
Infact, it is for this reason and the international dimension which this crimes had assumed that the promulgation of the EFCC act 2002 becomes inevitable. The act which was reenacted in 2004 is revolutionary in many respects. For the first time, power of co-ordination and enforcement of varied but related economic and financial crime laws are vested in one body. The definition of economic and financial crimes in section 46 of the money laundry Act is all about encompassing. 2nd, because the nature of the crime handed by the commission is at the heart of the economy, all stakeholders like security agents, law enforcement agent and other financial regulators are members of the commission.3rd, apart from the offences created by the EFCC Act itself, the commission has responsibility of specifically enforce the provision of other principal laws ordering on economic and financial crimes which includes the following;
i. The money laundry Act 2004
ii. The advanced fee fraud Act 1995
iii. Failed Bank [malpractice in bank Act 1991, as amended]
iv. The bank and other financial institution Act, 1996
v. The miscellaneous offences Act 1985
vi. Any other law or regulation relating to economic and financial crimes including penal code and criminal code.
[Section 7 of EFCC Act].
We can now see that it is not the law but its enforcement to make sure that they are adhered to. In other to do this, there must be men of integrity to see to it enforcement. This will help to reduce economic and financial crime in our Country (Nigeria) most especially in public sectors of the economy.
The issue of economic and financial crime is a national issue affecting our economy. In as much as there are is no accountability in public sector, our economy cannot grow because both local and Foreign investors are scared of investing in the Country
When we talk of accountability, accountability has dearly manifested itself as a principal to be pursued if the status quo is to be perpetrated. Accountability as contained in long man Dictionary contemporary English is the condition or quality of being able to give an explanation for one’s action. Accountability is also defined as the tendering off return on stewardship relating to the management of funds and other assets of which individuals or institutions had been custodians.
The economic and financial crime commission is established by economic and financial crime commission Act 2003, as a body co-operates to enforce and administer the provision of the Act. It is designated financial and intelligence unit [FIU] in Nigeria with the power to co-ordinate the various institutions involved in the fight against money laundering and enforcement of all laws dealing with economic and financial crime in Nigeria.
EFCC was established to play a major role which includes the following:
i. Investigation of all financial crime such as advance fee fraud (other wise known as 419) money laundering, fraudulent terfeity, illegal charge transfer, market fraud, fraudulent diversion of fund, computer credit card fraud, contract scan, forgery of financial instrument, issuance of bounded check, etc.
ii. Adoption of measures to eradicate and prevent the commission co-operate group or individual involved.
iii. Adoption of measures to identify, trace, freeze, confiscate or seize proceeds derived from terrorist activities, economic and financial crime related offences or properties.
iv. The collection of all reports relating to suspicious financial transaction, analyze and disseminate to all relevance government agencies which maintain liaison with office of the Attorney-General of federation i.e Nigeria custom service, immigration and prison service board, Nigeria deposit insurance co-operation, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) etc, in other to eradicate crime in public sector.
1.2 DEFINITION OF PROBLEM
Despite the adoption of EFCC, public sectors have being experiencing a lot of economic and financial problems. They include;
a. The major problem that imposes the enforcement of economic crimes i.e the influence of corruption that took over the control of the Nation. All the while, since our independence in 1960 and more especially from 1985 to 2003, corruption become manifestly entrenched and institutionalized into our politics.It ruled our lives as it was the major considaration in the governance in our affairs as Nation. There was and became no need for due process but the highest bidder on bribery and corruption. The rule of law therefore gave way to the selfish rule of man. While the rest of the world progressed, we headed back to the hobbersion state. Fraudsters and criminals took advantage of the situation and the problem became where to enforce, how to enforce and on whom to enforce the economic and financial laws.
b. Another problem is the failure of law enforcement agencies. Today we have over 500,000 law enforcement personnel working in our various enforcement agencies in Nigeria. Nigeria spends on average of N300,000,000,000 on the law enforcement agencies including the judiciary annually. Besides, we have about 43,953 lawyers called to bar, 707 high court and shariah court judges, 47 federal high court of justices, 46 court of appeal justice, and 15 justice of the supreme court of Nigeria. There are still men and women, in short, thousands of them begin called to bar annually. But all these agencies has done little or nothing in preventing crimes.
c. Another problem facing economic and financial crime commission in crime control is that the investigating units working on economic crimes are not dealing with very complex areas of the law, both criminal and civil. On the criminal side which is the most area of focus, understanding and differentiating among such concepts as embezzlement, larceny by tricks, and obtaining times of value by false pretenses have played generation of law students and even some lawyers let alone the enforcement agents. Some states have attempted to simplify this area of their law of merging these offenses into an offence of theft but court continues to have problems with the interpretation of those crimes. Finally, statues prescribing different kinds of fraud have become many, varied and complicated. For instance, economic crimes have five components as follows:
i. A wrongful intent.
ii. Disguise of purpose.
iii. Reliance on victim’s ignorance and carelessness.
iv. Voluntary victim-operation.
v. Concealment of the violation.
1.3. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this research study are as follows:
i. To determine the efficiency and credibility of economic and financial crime commission and its contribution to public sector accountability.
ii. To review the containment of economic and financial crime commission through determined investigation and enforcement or relevant laws.
iii. To determine the role of rule of law in the control of economic and financial crime in our public sectors.
iv. To determine what the law enforcement agencies should do to reduce economic and financial crimes. That is, what other enforcement agents should do to aid economic and financial crime commission in crime control.
v. To determine the areas of law that will help the investigating unit and other enforcement agents in their investigation.
vi. To examine the funding of economic and financial crime commission and its efficiency.