THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, cannot convict high profile thieves. EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Lamorde, while asking for more money to run his unproductive organisation told the Senate that big thieves had resources to keep their loot while their cases linger in court.
What is the solution? “Unfortunately, these are people who have the resources to drag these cases indefinitely and perpetually. We have established a very strong assets forfeiture unit. The first thing we do now is that we try to recover and confiscate the assets of individuals that we are investigating because it is only when you deprive them of their resources that you will be able to force them to stand trial,” Lamorde explained. He probably expects Nigerians to applaud his ingenuity.
How would he seize assets without going to the same courts he said the thieves manipulate to keep their loot? Lamorde cannot fool Nigerians. EFCC is notorious for bungling cases in court. Many cases it takes to court are thrown out because it rushes to court without enough evidence.
For a long time, EFCC has been wasteful, and another good brief for its lawyers who make millions of Naira for announcing their presence in court. How much did EFCC recover in 2012 that it spent N500 million in legal fees?
Lamorde sounded pathetic about EFCC’s capabilities. He provided no hope that the billions of Naira he wants to spend in 2013 would not be another waste. His concern about the comfort of his staff was the worst plea to make at a time he should have been presenting his plans for more effective prosecution of criminals.
If the budget had met his expectations for personnel costs, he would have been content. Nigerians will not get any benefits from EFCC when all that matters to the chief is how to maintain a bureaucracy that thrives on excuses.
The EFCC chairman has just served notice that 2013 would be worse in terms of the Commission’s performance. When he returns for the defence of the 2014 budget, he will tell Nigerians that the cuts in his personnel budget incapacitated the Commission.
We should expect no meaningful results from the prosecution of the fuel subsidy thieves or former governors, who EFCC, has prosecuted for more than five years. EFCC appears to be telling thieves to aim for bigger loots. It’s a shame.
Lamorde came to the job with promises of how tough he would be on criminals. It is a pity he is asking Nigerians to lower their expectations. Corruption is thriving, Lamorde by his admission, will do little about it, even at that, he will take only on little thieves.