The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has lambasted the US government following a report by the State Department criticising the President Muhammadu Buhari government’s anti-corruption efforts.
The US state department’s bureau of democracy, human rights and labour had said that Nigeria had made little progress in efforts to limit corruption in its public service.
It added among others that “there is a climate of impunity in the President Muhammadu Buhari government that allows officials to engage in corrupt practices with a sense of exemption from punishment.”
The report said the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Nigeria’s two key anti-corruption agencies had broad powers to prosecute corruption, but rarely applied such powers to conscientiously and logically prosecute corruption cases.
“In their prosecution of corruption cases, law enforcement and intelligence agencies often failed to follow due process and arrested suspects without appropriate arrest and search warrants,” the report read.
In response to this, the EFCC issued a statement saying that the “report is not only outdated and false but misleading.”
“The report is unfounded on the grounds of Nigeria’s remarkable achievements in the last four years as the war against corruption is on course,” the commission said.
“The EFCC’s commitment to the fight against corruption in the last four years is not in doubt to any discerning and genuinely concerned observer. This commitment is benchmarked by the unprecedented record of convictions, non-conviction based forfeiture and stolen assets recovery.”
“We are surprised that the US report could ignore or downplay our convictions in such a brazen manner when it claimed that the EFCC secured only 13 convictions in 2016. That is false and far from the truth.”
The anti-graft agency also mentioned some of its achievements under the present administration.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the EFCC has secured 943 convictions since 2015 till date. The agency recorded 103 convictions in 2015, secured 195 convictions in 2016, got 189 convictions in 2017. It is important to state that the EFCC secured 314 convictions in 2018 including two former state governors who were sentenced to 14 years imprisonment without option of fine. It is instructive to note that the two former governors serving their jail terms in prison are members of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). The Commission has so far recorded 142 convictions as at March 19 this year. These are verifiable facts,” the anti-corruption agency said.
The ant-graft agency further expressed concern over what it called a “report with inaccuracies.”
“Indeed, the US report’s portrayal of the work of the EFCC which is replete with inaccurate information is worrisome considering the close relationship between the Commission and some US entities,” the EFCC said.
“Unfortunately, the US Report does not reflect this deep knowledge of the EFCC and its work, which is enough reason to be suspicious about the motives behind the publication.
“From the foregoing, it is clear that the report authored by the American agency has done a great disservice to the work of the EFCC in particular and the fight against corruption under the leadership of President Buhari, an administration that is globally acknowledged for the enormous political will it has brought to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.”