The Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), an umbrella body of youth organizations in the South-East zone, has called for total overhaul of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, for effective and efficient delivery in the Federal Government’s war against corruption.
This came following alleged financial fraud leveled against the suspended acting chairman of the anti-graft agency, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.
However, the controversy surrounding the scenario has also affected other senior officials of the commission, leading to the suspension of many of them. Among those suspended is the EFCC Executive Secretary, Olanipekun Olukoyede.
But, in a press statement on Wednesday, and signed by Goodluck Ibem and Comrade Kanice Igwe, President and Secretary General of the Coalition, (COSEYL), respectively, they regretted that since the creation of EFCC, the commission had been largely used by any government in power to manhunt and witch-hunt opposition and as well, to stifle voice of dissent while leaving out, in most cases, certain persons, usually members of incumbent party in power seen as “sacred cows”.
“Few cases are where the commission has gone after those in government, not much has followed this in terms of prosecution. For many reasons, it beats the imagination of the Coalition that upon all the billions of dollars said to have been recovered by the commission from corrupt public office holders and citizens, Nigerians are yet to feel the impact of such monies meaningfully or gainfully.
“Again, the Coalition, having monitored for long, the structure of the commission is given to the belief that the commission can hardly function independently as long as its chairman, is an appointee of the executive – presidency. The past as with the commission does not bode well with its stated mandate and while the Coalition is not unaware of past few success stories, especially as recorded during the Nuhu Ribadu days, same cannot be said of today’s commission.
“The Coalition strongly believes it is now timely to review the EFCC Act and strip the presidency such appointive powers given what is unfolding before us in the polity. Here is where the case of Magu who has acted as commission’s chairman for five years comes into the picture. The embattled Ibrahim Magu whose appointment as substantive chair of the commission has, on more than one occasion, been rejected by the legislature was retained by the president in acting capacity. This is unacceptable and disregard of legislative process by the president whose biggest political credential rests on anti-corruption. What reasons, given the latest development, the coalition asks, has the president in retaining Magu whom the DSS had brought corruption charges against?
“In Nigeria, as with appointments, we often hear of federal character principle as enshrined in section 14 of our constitution, 1999 as amended. If this principle holds, then, why is it that since creation no son or daughter of the South-East has held the top job in the commission? And why is it that with the latest development, politicians of the South, and more especially of the South-East are the targeted victims of incumbent power whose call and bid has been EFCC’s task apparently? The case of Abia is no exception where past governors and other well-placed persons have in recent times suffered untold deprivations,” the group said.
The Coalition opined that the Anti-graft agency, EFCC, as presently constituted, cannot work for the common man except the laws establishing it were revisited and reviewed.