Thursday, November 24, 2011

Waziri's sack won’t fix EFCC

It wasn't too long ago when the Human Rights Watch (HRW), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), says the removal of Farida Waziri from the headship of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would not solve the commission’s problems, which is perhaps, the problem of Nigerians.

This came as a product of Mr. President relieving her of the duty on Wednesday and appointed Mohammed Lamorde as the acting chairman of the commission.

In a statement on Thursday in Lagos, the HRW said that only institutional reforms would improve the operations of the anti-graft agency. The statement was signed by Daniel Bekele, Africa Director of HRW.

The organisation claimed that the EFCC had been unable to secure convictions against government officials charged with corruption due to institutional failures such as executive interference and judiciary inefficiency. “One of the EFCC’s greatest weaknesses has been its lack of independence and susceptibility to political pressure. “President Jonathan’s sudden firing of Farida Waziri will only make that problem worse, unless the government pushes through reforms to bolster both the EFCC and the other institutions it depends on,” it said.

According to the organisation, the EFCC has so far arraigned 35 prominent politicians, including 19 former state governors over corruption, since its establishment.
“But many of those cases have made little progress in the courts, and not a single politician is currently serving a prison term for any of these alleged crimes.
“The commission has secured four convictions of senior political officials since 2003, but they have faced little or no prison terms,” it noted.
It urged amendments to the EFCC enabling law that would not allow the President of the country to dismiss the commission’s chairman at will.
This, it said, would give relative independence to the commission and improve its operations.
“The government should begin repairing the battered federal court system, reforming federal criminal justice administration procedure, and examining ways to establish special courts to hear only corruption cases,” it added.

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