By Lateef Ibrahim
A bill seeking to amend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Act with a view to making it more independent and efficient in its operations is now pending before the House of Representatives.
The amendment bill was sponsored by the member representing Ikenne/Sagamu/Remo North Federal Constituency of Ogun State, Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu.
The amendment bill seeks to make the nation’s anti-graft agency, EFCC, more independent by making the removal of its Board and Director-General before the end of their tenure subject to confirmation of the Senate.
The bill indicated that under the current EFCC Act, the appointment of its Board and Director-General was subject to approval of the Senate. Another core area the Amendment Bill targets is to increase the level of EFCC’s operational efficiency, by separating the Board of the Commission from the Executive Management of the Commission.
Presently, the Board of the EFCC is headed by an Executive Chairman of the Rank of Assistant Commissioner, while the Board has Heads of Security Agencies, like the Police, State Security Services, National Intelligence Agency etc., as members.
The amendment bill Adebutu contended that the current practice whereby the EFCC was headed by an Executive Chairman of the Rank of Assistant Commissioner, did not augur well for the Commission, because “the Executive Chairman is junior in rank and the Board would merely have its meetings attended by junior officers, representing the Heads of Security Agencies”.
The amendment bill further seeks to ensure that a person from the private sector with relevant cognate experience, be appointed Chairman, while a Director-General would be appointed to be in charge of the day to day administration of the Commission.
The amendment bill further seeks to make the Commission’s pool of officers, the primary source for appointing heads of the EFCC.
According to amendment bill, “As it stands now, whenever the government is to appoint an Executive Chairman or Director of Operation, it goes to the Nigerian Police Force to appoint an Assistant Commissioner of Police or Chief Superintendent who is essentially Level 12 officers, over and above staff of the Commission who have the ranks of Assistant, Deputy and Full Directors on Level 15-17”, it said.
In other words, the amendment seeks to redress standing institutional and administrative concerns and boost the morale of staff.
It similarly aimed at improving the Commission’s powers of prosecution and conviction rate in addition to seeking to introduce clauses to ensure that the Commission retains the expertise and experience of the investigators it trains.
According to the EFCC’s amendment bill, “This is in the light of the fact that most of the investigators are usually drawn from the Police, and are sent on training courses to boost their levels of competence and skills.
“However, these officers are usually transferred back to the Police, leaving the Commission with a dearth of skilled investigators for its operations.
“This has negatively impacted on the quality of investigations by the Commission and its capacity to achieve its goals towards national growth and development.
“Through the amendment, the conversion of the police officers who so desire, to full and permanent staff of the Commission, will be provided for”, it stressed.
Finally, the bill seeks to enhance the status and cognate experience of members of the Board of EFCC by providing that a member of the Commission shall have not less than 20 years cognate experience and should not, if a security officer, be below the rank of Commissioner of Police.
This, the amendment bill maintained, will ensure quality presence on the Board and help towards its productivity and efficiency.