13th September, 2012
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, seems to have lost steam and revelations by an insider that there is lack of political will to strengthen the commission is worrisome. At the first annual convention of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, on Wednesday, a Principal Detective Superintendent at EFCC, who represented Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, EFCC Chairman, disclosed that there is lack of government support for the commission at the moment. The EFCC insider in his personal opinion, disclosed that unlike when Nuhu Ribadu was the commission’s chairman and Olusegun Obasanjo was President, the current administration is not supporting them the same way.
As a result, the EFCC is seen by many Nigerians as ineffective, a toothless bulldog that cannot even bark or bite and even unwilling to bring corrupt people to justice. This revelation is highly disturbing.
Corruption is a cancer threatening the progress, unity and prosperity of Nigeria. When public funds are looted and sent to foreign countries or private bank accounts, schools are not built, roads are not constructed, hospitals are left to rot, the entire infrastructure is neglected and the majority of Nigerians are forced to live in squalor and hopelessness. Corruption is the reason few Nigerians live in abundance while the majority of people in our country are denied the basic things of life such as potable water, balanced diet, sound education and proper healthcare.
With abundant natural and human resources, lack of electricity or bad roads should not be experienced in Nigeria. Sadly, even countries not as blessed as Nigeria seem to be doing better than us. Nigerians now spend billions of naira to attend Ghanaian universities or travel for medical treatment in foreign lands. We believe that there is enough money to build the best African universities or hospitals in our country.
We cannot continue this way. The only way to fight corruption is to bring to justice those who have looted public funds.
Their punishment will serve as a deterrent to others who might be nursing similar plans.
The reason the United States of America is so advanced and developed is not because there are no corrupt people in America. It is because the institutions are strong and those who steal from the treasury are prosecuted and severely punished. But in our country, those who steal billions from the public coffers are hardly jailed.
Apart from former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, who was sentenced by a British court, no former governor in Nigeria is currently serving any jail sentence even though most governors were accused of enriching themselves through corrupt means. Former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, even secured a court injunction not to be prosecuted even after he was accused of gargantuan corruption while in office. Where in the world is that allowed? Does it mean some people are above the law of the land? Does immunity cover him after he has left office? The injunction which has made the judiciary a laughing stock and perceived as a citadel of corruption must be reviewed so that he could face trial. The judge who granted that injunction should also be probed.
We must not wait until the entire country breaks up before we do what is right for ourselves and our children. President Goodluck Jonathan must support the EFCC financially and morally. He must allow the commission to operate independently.
Judges who give permanent court injunctions to corrupt politicians and lawyers who specialise in delaying cases so their corrupt clients will never be brought justice must understand that when everything collapses, it will consume everyone including them and their children.
Nigerians must also be willing to expose corrupt elements in the society. EFCC investigators are not magicians. They need to get facts to bring corrupt people to justice and they need the support of those who have those facts. It is only when we do this that Nigeria can begin to develop.