Lawyers, criminologists to head EFCC
Few weeks after Ayo Salami-led panel of inquiry submitted a comprehensive report to President Muhammadu Buhari on alleged diversion of assets by a suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, the Senate has initiated moves to reform the anti-graft body.
According to a Bill sponsored by a senator from Cross River State, Professor Sandy Onor, the chairmanship of the EFCC would no longer be restricted to serving or retired senior police officers or security agents.
The Bill also seeks to amend the EFCC Act to include other criteria for the selection of a Chairman for the Commission.
The Bill, which is titled Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2020, has already passed first reading on the floor of the upper legislative chamber. It specifically targets Section 2(1a)(ii) of the EFCC Act, 2004.
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The current Section reads: “The Commission shall consist of a Chairman who shall be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency, not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent.”
In the proposed amendment, the Senate said professionals from other disciplines outside the security circle can now head the country’s leading anti-graft body.
It said a lawyer, criminologist or Nigerians from any security agencies can now head the body, so long as the person has about 15 years of cognitive experience.
The proposed amendment reads: “The Commission shall consist of a Chairman, who either be a lawyer, criminologist or serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent.”
This is the first time the Senate will be attempting to effect a major shift in the running of the EFCC, since the Commission was created in 2003-2004, through an Act of the National Assembly.
It is not also clear if the current moves to amend the Act is related to claims that president Buhari was already planning to initiate major reforms in the ongoing anti-graft administration.
Already, president Buhari has commenced a gradual unbundling of the Commission, by sending a Bill on Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Agency to the Senate for passage into law.
Buhari had noted that the proposed bill, tagged: “Proceeds of Crime Bill”, will address the problem of lack of transparency and accountability associated with the management of recovered funds by anti-corruption agencies in the country.
According to the letter dated October 6, 2020, the agency will be critical in sustaining the fight against corruption, money laundering and illicit movement of stolen funds through the banking system and across Nigerian borders.
The bill is expected to strip the EFCC and six other agencies of powers to seize assets or invoke the forfeiture clause. If signed into law, the bill will stop the EFCC and six other anti-corruption agencies from securing freezing orders on suspicious bank accounts under investigation. Sun