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(Jun 09, 2009) David Mark, the President of the Nigerian Senate, stated on June 2, 2009, that the Senate will establish a new agency to monitor "the perceived excesses" of the country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). His comment was made at a public hearing that just opened on the EFCC Amendment Bill. Mark insisted on the creation of a new body instead of a proposed merger of the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), because such a body would be able to "check the activities of both agencies so that none of them would become a willing tool by some forces to witch hunt their opponents in the future." (Cosmas Ekpunobi, ... Moves to Check Excesses of EFCC, DAILY CHAMPION, June 3, 2009, available at http://champion-newspapers.com/news/article_5.htm.) He stated,

Another area that I want this public hearing to tackle is the issue of who supervises those who are charged to investigate? Who supervises the ICPC? Who investigates the EFCC? We need a body to do that, otherwise, as we all know, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. We must be careful so that we do not concentrate too much power in one agency otherwise we are going to run into problem[s]. (Id.)

Mark's remarks came in the aftermath of EFCC Chairman Farida Waziri's assertion that the agency has been frustrated by certain provisions of law and by public prosecution regulations, as well as the conventional courts' congestion, which hamper prosecution of cases after the conclusion of agency investigations. She contended that these loopholes "were being exploited by some influential persons to escape justice." (Id.) To cope with that problem, the EFCC wants to establish a special criminal court to expedite prosecution of suspected perpetrators of fraud. In particular, Waziri wants section 19 of the EFCC Act to be amended in order to allow for creation of the court, whose judges would be assigned for the trial of suspects within six months. She also would like to see the states institute the same kind of arrangement and, she said, "such courts should be granted complete independence to ensure that political office holders who committed such offences were sent to jail." (Id.)

The proposed amendments to streamline ICPC and EFCC operations to improve the fight against corruption also seek to limit executive control over the two agencies. Under the amendments, the ICPC would limit its activities to investigation and prosecution of errant public officers and elected or appointed local government officials; the EFCC would focus on monitoring money laundering and short-term holders of public office at the state and national level. The ICPC would additionally be allowed to handle cases involving fugitives, with powers to confiscate their property and money after obtaining a court order. (Id.)

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Government ethics and transparency More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Nigeria More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 06/09/2009