The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has written to President Muhammadu Buhari, on the proposed bill to amend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] Act, saying such action would undermine independence of the anti-graft agency.
It explained that bill, if allowed to see the light of day by both the executive and legislature, the agency would allegedly become an arm of the executive and subjected to its whims and caprices rather than an independence anti-corruption agency saddled with keeping all Nigerians, irresptive of positions on their toes against corruption and corrupt practices.
As stated, if passed and signed into law, the bill would would severely undermine the commission’s independence, and render it a ‘toothless bulldog’.
SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, called on the President to as a matter of urgency instruct the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to withdraw the proposed executive bill to amend the EFCC Act.
Throug an open letter dated 19 September 2020 and sent to the President, Oluwadare also corroborated the Professor Itse Sagay-led Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption concerns that the ammendment would demolish the anti-corruption infrastructure of Nigeria, and confer an enormous power of control of the anti-graft agency on the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
“The bill, which is apparently designed to undermine the independence, integrity and freedom of action of anti-corruption agencies, ignores the seriousness of grand corruption and its impact on Nigerians’ human rights, the rule of law, principles of good governance, development, as well as the threat corruption poses to the country’s constitutional order.
“By pushing to turn the EFCC into a department in the Federal Ministry of Justice, and effectively bring it under the control of the Attorney General; and to subject the appointment of the agency’s head to the approval of the Directorate of State Security, your government would seem to indicate that it is not interested in combating corruption and halting its putrefying effects.
“Under the proposed bill, the limited independence that the EFCC enjoys will be substantially undermined, as the commission will now effectively become a body of the executive government, thus creating heightened risk of political interference in the work of the commission,” the letter read in part.