Why EFCC should not fail Nigeria

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was established in response to Recommendation 26 of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Recommendation 26 states that Countries should establish a Financial Intelligent Unit (FIU) that serves as a national centre for the receiving (and, as permitted, requesting), analysis and dissemination of suspicious transaction report (STR) and other information regarding potential money laundering or terrorist financing. The FIU should have access, directly or indirectly, on a timely basis to the financial, administrative and law enforcement information that it requires to properly undertake its functions, including the analysis of STR.


While we can give credit to the Obasanjo's administration for setting up the EFCC we must also understand that for Nigeria to be part of the international community, the EFCC (or whatever name it would have been called had it been established by another administration) must be established. Otherwise the cost to Nigeria for non-compliance with the FATF mandate would have been astronomical. Even after Nigeria established the EFCC, she remained on the list of non cooperative countries and territories (NCCT) until 2006. For a while the NCCT list (or as we call it in the money laundering field the bad boy list) had only Nigeria and Myanmar (formerly Burma) on the list until both were removed in 2006. While Nigeria was removed from the list on June 23, 2006, Myanmar was removed on October 13, 2006.


With that brief introduction as to why the EFCC was established, I will then go into why the EFCC must not fail Nigeria.


As a specialist in the anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing fields, I will state unequivocally that EFCC is the last hope for the hopelessly and helplessly deprived Nigerians. That Nigerian resources have been squandered by politicians and their collaborators is an understatement. What surprises me is how daring and brazen these politicians are when they squander the peoples money. Equally surprising is the fact that the people allow this to happen. Look around in any local government and you will see a local government councilor who became a councilor as a poor person and overnight became rich. People should be querying sudden wealth from politicians but instead they worship those politicians. In Nigeria today, money is everything. It does not matter how that money is made, just make it. This latest craze for money has brought with it a serious moral dilemma even for churches. In South and Central America, the churches were and are still the advocates for social justice and equity. In Nigeria, some of the churches themselves have been compromised with money from corrupt politicians and this is why EFCC must not fail Nigeria.


Chairman Ribadu and his EFCC colleagues have done a good job in trying to put the fear of God in politicians. They should be commended for going after corrupt politicians but the latest issue concerning a list of people who should or should not run for political office has done more damage to the fairness or lack of by EFCC officials. The timing was wrong and the whole exercise is regrettable. The EFCC should not have let itself to be used or teleguided by any group no matter who that group is. If we believe that democracy is the government of the people by the people for the people, we should let the people decide. The EFCC should publish the list of those it finds corrupt and let the people make the decision using their votes.


Because Nigerians should not allow the EFCC to fail, the steps that are being contemplated by the senate are both timely and welcomed. The argument by the executive branch of government that the EFCC is another department of the executive is correct but because of the 'Nigerian Factor' the EFCC must be made semi or complete independent of the executive branch. Failing to do that will bring disrepute and will make EFCC a tool of the executive.


Amadiebube Robert Mbama the author is the president of MBAMA & Associates LLC. He is a certified anti money laundering specialist. For more about the author please go to www.mbamaassociates.com.