Dear EFCC: How Much Have You Recovered?

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In the last few months,  Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and his team have struggled to give exact figures of recoveries from alleged treasury looters.

In November 2017, Magu disclosed that the commission had so far recovered N739 billion. In yet another instance in February this year, he claimed that the EFCC had recovered about N500 billion. These inconsistencies have aroused suspicions that the EFCC has no proper records of its recoveries and thus sparking claims of abuse of assets and funds recovered from its multiple investigations.

Curiously, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who should by virtue of her office know the status of the recoveries, sparked further controversy in February when she disclosed conflicting figures. Following the controversy that ensued, the Minister in a leaked memo to the EFCC boss asked the agency’s head to brief her on the exact position of the recoveries.

According to her, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation had only received N91.4 billion from the EFCC, meaning that hundreds of billions are yet to be accounted for by the anti-graft agency.

This article therefore highlights worries over the inconsistencies in the figures of recoveries and the inability of these government agencies in that value chain to work closely and share information. The demand for full transparency and accountability from the anti-graft agency in their operations is what the agency itself stands for, interestingly and this is a reminder. This is important, coming against the backdrop of the corruption allegations against Magu culminating in his yet-to-be confirmed appointment by the Senate as the substantive chairman of the EFCC.

There are unconfirmed reports that the EFCC claims it expended monies from the recoveries to cover some of its operational costs. If this is correct then there is a problem with that. On whose authority or statutory law did the agency do this, when they are not supposed to be in possession of the money they recover?

I believe when transparency is absent in the government ministries and agencies, it gives rise to discrepancies and corruption; in this case, the EFCC and the Ministry of Finance are not been transparent with each other, and this gives a good example of what happens between the government ministries and agencies in Nigeria: each of them operates separately without transparency, accountability and synergy. This gives rise to corrupt practices that looks undefeatable.

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If a system in which the transparency of data and accountability is the order of the day, such disgrace would not have happened, the data would have been there for everyone to see how much the EFCC recovered from the treasury looters, and the Finance Minister would not say this is the amount recovered and EFCC comes up with another figure as the amount recovered.

All these national disgrace can be stopped through transparent database, whereby the amount recovered is recorded and made public for other ministries, agencies and even the public to see. And I’m sure this will also help fight discrepancies and corruption in the government ministries and agencies. There are computers and internet in these offices. What are they used for?

I would like to suggest that all monetary recoveries and proceeds from disposed assets should be placed in a dedicated account at the central bank and records shared with the office of the Minister of Finance and the office of the Accountant General of the federation and the public as well.

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