Leaders of Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption groups have called on the leadership of the Senate to expedite the confirmation of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) as substantive head of the agency.
The activists said they were making the call based on their believe that clearing Mr. Magu for the post would “give the ongoing anti-corruption fight the impetus it desperately needs and help sustain the Buhari administration in curtailing impunity in governance.”
The latest call on the National Assembly reiterated an earlier one by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), which, in August 2016, lamented the delay in the confirmation of the acting EFCC boss.
The groups in a communique issued on Sunday in Abuja at the end of its just-concluded National Conference on the Role of the Legislature in the Fight Against Corruption, organised by the National Assembly and the Presidency, noted that the National Assembly went on recess shortly after the presidency sent Mr. Magu’s name to it.
“Interestingly, the Senate has since reconvened, screened and confirmed justices of Supreme Court and Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) forwarded to it long after the submission of Mr. Magu’s name for confirmation as EFCC’s chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari,” the activists said.
“Section 2 of the EFCC Act says ‘there shall be a chairman who shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the commission, and who shall not be below the rank of an Assistant Commissioner of police. He is to be saddled with the responsibility of running the anti-crime commission.”
The groups rated Mr. Magu, a deputy commissioner of police, as meeting and exceeding this requirement.
“Therefore his confirmation as EFCC Chairman without further delay will give the anti-corruption fight the boost it needs to end the culture of impunity and systemic corruption in Nigeria,” they said in the communiqué.
Those who signed the communique are Debo Adeniran of Coalition Againts Corrupt Leaders(CACOL); Lanre Suraju –Civil Society Network Against Corruption(CSNAC); Adetokunbo Mumuni – Social-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP); David Ugolor – Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ); Okey Nwanguma – Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN); Faith Nwadishi – Publish What You Pay Nigeria (PWYP); and Oluajo Babatunde – Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA).
They contended that the security of tenure for the leadership of anti-corruption agencies saddled with tackling corruption was a globally recognized principle for guaranteeing the independence of anti-corruption agencies.
They added, “Fighting corruption without the basic guarantee of security of tenure for the head of anti-corruption agencies as has become the trend in the recent past in Nigeria is one of the major limitations of the fight against the scourge of corruption in Nigeria and the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has a duty to reverse this trend.
“The guarantee of security of tenure of anti-corruption agencies officials is at the root of the independence, effective functioning and freedom from undue influence of anti-corruption agencies as prescribed by article 6(2) of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) of which Nigeria is a signatory.
“Anything short of such a guarantee renders the fight against corruption ineffectual, susceptible to political manipulation and compromises the independence of the anti-corruption agencies.
“While the EFCC has of late stepped up the fight against acts of corruption and abuse of public trust as exemplified in the tracking of those remotely and directly connected with the misapplication of monies meant to fight Boko Haram insurgency, confiscation of the properties suspected to have been acquired from proceeds of crime linked to politically exposed persons as well as the investigation and prosecution of alleged owners, the lack of a substantive head with a secured tenure has been a major set back in all these efforts.
“This delay by the Senate sends a wrong signal of deliberate attempt by the Senate to frustrate the anti-corruption fight or at best, exert political pressure on the EFCC and force it into some compromise with the Senate’’.
“Having reconvened from recess almost two months ago, the group therefore called on the Senate to treat Mr. Magu’s confirmation as substantive executive chairman of the EFCC as a matter of top priority and of urgent national interest.
“We also call on President Buhari to use the ongoing second review mechanism of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which Nigeria is undergoing to send a strong message to the international community that Nigeria is genuinely committed to the fight against corruption.”