The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday hinted at plans to review the law establishing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to enable it to carry out its mandate more effectively.
This comes after lawmakers expressed concerns that the commission has been used as a tool to harass and embarrass politicians, rather than effectively carrying out its mandate.
During the screening and confirmation of Ola Olukoyede and Muhammad Hammajoda as Chairman and Secretary of the commission on Wednesday, Godswill Akpabio, the Senate president narrated how a frivolous petition was written against him to sabotage his political career and expressed his dissatisfaction with the EFCC’s handling of Senator Rochas Okorocha’s case where operatives invaded the house through a roof.
Akpabio criticized the EFCC for preferring to chase “frivolous petitions” rather than carrying out a preliminary investigation before inviting individuals. He also complained that the commission had engaged more in sensationalism than carrying out real investigations.
“They have engaged more in sensation, than real investigations, I have had my share. We need to take a thorough look at the EFCC law. We have to right to review the Act to make it more effective. They keep embarrassing and stigmatizing people over frivolous petitions. Even recovered properties are stolen and sold cheaply” Akpabio lamented.
The senate president also spoke on merging the EFCC with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to avoid duplication of roles.
During the screening, senators raised some concerns, including Ali Ndume, the Senator representing Borno North who worries over the enforcement of an unexplained wealth order by the commission, which he believes to be minor compared to what some individuals have stolen in the country.
Simon Mwadkwom, the Senator representing Plateau North, on the other hand, questioned why the EFCC failed to carry out a preliminary investigation before inviting individuals and queried the lack of synergy between the EFCC and ICPC.
Adamu Aleiro, the Senator representing Kebbi Central lamented that the commission only goes after government officials, ministries, and agencies, leaving out the banking and private sectors where, according to him, most crimes are committed.
However, Olukoyede assured the Senate that the EFCC would continue to operate within the boundaries of the law and enforce it on any individual who has committed a crime, regardless of their status.
He also clarified that the commission carries out a preliminary investigation before inviting individuals and stressed that the mandate is not to discriminate but to be guided by the law.
“We have a mandate by law, any attempt to work outside that mandate violates the law. We will respect the provisions of the law”, he said.
“When we receive the petition, we carry out a preliminary investigation. Inviting the individual is the last lap. On this issue of investigating political enemies. If the person committed the crime we will go after the person The mandate is not to discriminate. We will be guided by the Law”, he added.