• Restates call for special courts• NLC faction plans anti-graft protestEconomic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has attributed its alleged poor performance on what it described as defects in the country’s judicial system.
An official of the commission made the claim at a two-day workshop on Budget Monitoring and Tracking held in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Meanwhile, a faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is planning to stage a one-day nationwide protest to put pressure on government into taking concrete action against corrupt acts in the governance processes of the country.
In a bid to check rising cases of economic and financial crime and other related offences in the country, EFCC was instituted by the Federal Government in 2003 with the mandate to investigate, prosecute and prevent financial and economic crimes like bank fraud, cyber crime, advanced fee fraud and money laundering in the public and private sectors.
While speaking with journalists at the workshop, the Director of Public Affairs Department of the commission, Osita Nwajah, disclosed that EFCC is facing series of challenges in the area of prosecution, where some judicial terms stall the agency’s fight against crime.
He explained: “The commission can only do its work and take its findings to the court, we don’t adjudicate. Our job is to receive complaints, investigate them and take the results of our investigation before a competent judicial authority: and they take decisions.
“We don’t control that process. If you are looking for who to blame for the discharged of the accused persons, it is certainly not the EFCC.”
He enjoined Nigerians to follow and beam their search light on the pronouncements that are made by the judicial officers, quoting a case of the pension scheme where the accused person was sentenced to pay N750,000 by the court for a crime involving billions of naira.
The EFCC director urged the people to critically assess “where the laws are made and where they are adjudicated.”
Nwajah affirmed that the condemnation from the general public is highly misplaced and unfair to the commission, blaming the defects onwhat he describedas supremacy of the laws of the land which established EFCC and accommodates “plea bargain” that statutorily incapacitates the mandate to fight crime.
According to him, the commission now looks forward to a special court for trial of corruption cases and other related crimes, as proposed some years ago, to ensure efficiency and hitch-free operation of the anti-graft agencies in the country.
“Beyond special courts, the judiciary needs serious reform. Usually as we have it today, we can better serve the cause of anti-corruption with some very serious reforms, that’s all we are asking for in conjunction with other positive changes that should happen in the judicial process,” the director said.
The chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Lamorde, represented by Nwajah, emphasised the need for civil society groups and local government staff, who participated in the programme to work together with EFCC.
“The commission came up with this ideal under its prevention mandate to ensure citizens’ participation at all levels of budget processes for better service delivery.”
Lamorde lamented that “often times, funds allocated for provision of basic social amenities and infrastructure are either embezzled or completely diverted, partly due to lack of monitoring of such releases.”
The Head of Enlightenment and Reorientation Unit of the commission, Hajia Aisha Musa, said: “When citizens understand budget processes, they will demand for transparency and accountability in budget implementation and this will invariably reduce sharp practices that result in poor service delivery.”
The President of the NLC faction, Ayuba Wabba, who stated this during the opening ceremony of the 2015 edition of Congress’ Rain School yesterday in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, explained that the protest march is expected to be ratified by the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of Congress slated to hold in Abuja tomorrow (Wednesday).