EFCC, Justice Ministry and Challenges of Fighting Corruption in Nigeria, By Dr Abiodun Olaosebikan
I am one of the people warily confused about the roles of EFCC and Ministry of Justice. The challenge of poor system of justice that pervaded the atmosphere of ruling in Nigeria within its boundary is so chaotic and unregulated to the extent that investigation and expected Justice is unattainable in its entirety.
For effective prosecution, we need an efficient investigation team that coordinates well with its Ministry of Justice(MOJ). It was during the rancour or power jostling between the then EFCC Chairman and Nigeria’s Attorney General sometimes ago, that strongly informed me that the administration cannot fight corruption effectively because they are deep in it for power and greed, and never for patriotism.
I wish we have a press to expose both two sides inefficiency, their greed for power which impaired their attempt at impartial investigation and pursuance of justice.
For example, the reason why USA FBI (investigating unit of Justice department) seems to be fairly and comparably effective is the appointment of merit-based experienced law enforcement officers and attorneys. And their works are then handed over to efficient group of Attorneys for prosecution at their justice department.
The FBI have branches, like EFCC do, all over the country. They investigate and hand over to Federal and State Prosecuting agencies, as appropriate. So that the job does not overwhelm one division. In Nigeria, only one section or prosecution agencies exist -the federal Ministry of Justice (MOJ) who is accountable to an Executive. And less to the nation at large. Whereas, the MOJ should see its work as ensuring safety, security and justice for the people of the country, rather than to a political party or an Executive office of Presidency or a Governor.
Nigeria structure of justice against national corruption
In Nigeria, the more I try to seek for the point of diversion, the more I wonder if our journey to that “efficient justice system” in Nigeria has ever really started. Which makes any fight against corruption just a rhetoric, and not based on reality. Especially as it relates to an investigative arm and the prosecution department. As long as that system cohesion is lacking foundation, while maintaining some degree of independence, the next administration too, will fail in its bid to rid Nigeria of its terrible misappropriation and looting of its treasury. The case of not being able to extradite Diezani to face the justice, is very sad. That investigative arm needs a strong law to enable it reach the external borders of the country to seek cooperation with the international agencies. A tool that will include extradition of such suspect based on a strong investigative evidence.
Sincerity of purpose is destroyed by a system of appointment with misplaced organization structure, and dedication or lack thereof, which leaves a big gap in its authentical fight to ensure accountability to the electorate by these government agencies and managers that run them.
The problem seem to me to be related to merit vs unregulated quota. Meritocractic appointment that is based on nepotism is an abuse of Merit-based principle. And it is not going to yield a desired result. Quota, poorly managed, only leads to redundancy and incompetency, unless a firm of certification is used to ascertain merit to be an investigator in a justice ministry. Training is crucial before employment for the bearable minimum skill of investigation. Quota system in appointment, while useful in an environment like Nigeria diversity, should be based on true merit, not nepotistic influences.
Also, insulation against inducement. This risky job with poor remuneration will be easily corrupted in a budding democracy, known for its penchant to “buy or thwart” justice through nepotistic and other related influence.
And gazetted law and regulation. The worse of all is the weakness of the law and regulations that is currently based on Military dictatorship style with disregard to the due principle of democratic process that require strengthening by appropriate law of “process of diligence,” which will let criminal continue to run free in Nigeria. I mean criminal with cash (stolen or misappropriated) to escape or twist legal system. Especially when the legal system is already on a shaky foundation.
The law setting up EFCC and its modus operandi, as per working with MOJ needs an overhaul. The law that sets the EFCC up needs some review and update, in order to have a bitting teeth. Also our investigating unit appointment and remuneration, including training need overhaul.
And the EFCC/MOJ need to have separation of power that does not allow MOJ to interfere with investigation of crimes, regardless of its nature. And finally, making EFCC and MOJ less attached to the executive, apart from the appointment of its managers.
I remember, a time when the current Attorney General alerted the country he would be bringing some people to court, in relation to their involvement with the insecurity and herdsmen attack. It just experienced a muted silence. And my search did not yield any event related to the promise by MOJ rhetoric till today. I wonder whether the investigation unit of law enforcement bungled the whole thing, that it could not find its way to any reputable court for merit of prosecution.
Can the NASS or State Lawmakers Help?
This is one other aspect of Nigeria tragedy and challenges. I would wish our lawmakers examine that area of EFCC and MOJ, to strength and correct before the next Administration comes on board, in 2023.
I would recommend that the various State Governors with their State Assembly begin to look at or debate rhe need to consider local legislations that establish special investigation unit to handle serious illegality like state misappropriated fun and looting. Which can then work with Special legal luminaries to take the case to courts. The more State start asserting and encroach on Federal powers, the more the center’s disrespectful negligence of Justice for All will be exposed, and hopefully addressed in the future Nigeria that is truly responsive to its citizen.
Dr Abiodun Olaosebikan
Lolabee at Large