Reevaluation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC): Ensuring Accountability And Effectiveness

By Dr. Olukayode Ajulo

The Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has long been entrusted with the critical responsibility of preventing, investigating, and prosecuting financial crimes. However, recent developments have raised concerns about the Commission’s focus and operations, warranting a thorough reassessment of its mandate and effectiveness.

Regrettably, it appears that the EFCC has strayed from its primary functions, engaging in what can be described as political posturing. It has prioritized high-profile cases and media sensationalism over its core objectives, compromising its ability to diligently pursue and bring to justice the real perpetrators of economic and financial crimes.

There is a growing apprehension that the EFCC has become overly preoccupied with media trials, theatrics, and grand gestures, rather than adhering to the rigorous standards and procedures necessary for effective investigation. This approach has led to hasty actions, inadequate evidence gathering, and subsequent dismissal of cases by the courts, undermining the pursuit of justice.

A recent incident that exemplifies these concerns is the alleged pursuit of Zamfara State Governor, Gov. Lawal, by the EFCC while his case was still pending before the Supreme Court. However, following his victory in the apex court, the EFCC swiftly shifted its focus to his political rival, Former Governor Bello Mohamed Matawale, who now serves as the Minister of State for Defence.

The Commission has reportedly accused him of involvement in financial crimes. The timing and circumstances surrounding this accusation raise legitimate questions about the EFCC’s impartiality and its commitment to due process.

Furthermore, it is essential to inquire about the EFCC’s inaction during the mandatory screening of the recently appointed minister, where his past activities were expected to undergo thorough review.

Dr. Kayode Ajulo

The origin of the petition and the credibility of the accusers must be scrutinized to ensure that the EFCC’s actions are not driven by ulterior motives or baseless claims. Stringent procedures should be in place for submitting petitions, and comprehensive forensic investigative patterns should be employed when dealing with such cases. This will safeguard against the EFCC embarking on fruitless pursuits and ensure that its efforts are focused on genuine and substantive cases.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission plays a pivotal role in combating corruption and financial crimes. However, it is crucial to critically evaluate its operations, address shortcomings, and reinforce its commitment to its original purpose. This process necessitates collaboration between the EFCC’s leadership, relevant government bodies, civil society organizations, legal experts, and the media.

Through open dialogue and collective efforts, we can restore public trust, enhance transparency, and strengthen the EFCC’s capacity to effectively tackle economic and financial crimes.

Dr Olukayode Ajulo, OON, is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He wrote in from Abuja.

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