EFCC laments paucity of funds
By SONI DANIEL, REGIONAL EDITOR, NORTH
ABUJA — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has raised alarm over shortage of funds that has hit its operations, amidst rising overheads in recent times.
The commission noted in its 2011 annual report, which Vanguard cited yesterday, that it had recently faced budgetary shortfalls, particularly in 2011 and that the situation required urgent attention by the authorities.
The 65-page report noted: “As new paradigms of economic and financial crimes emerge, the anti-corruption war must be fueled with funds necessary to service operations and purchase equipment.”
The commission lamented that the paucity of funds was coming in the wake of rising overheads and need to investigate complex cases, among them, oil subsidy and pension scams with foreign dimensions, which it claimed were very expensive to investigate.
The agency pointed out that the number of civil cases filed against it was also on the increase and that many fines imposed on the agency were not budgeted for.
The report also lamented that work on the commission’s multi-billion headquarters, which is expected to house all its organs and provide a central point for its operations in Abuja, was facing a serious drawback arising from paucity of funds to finance the project.
It pointed out that as at September 2011, the commission was indebted to the contractors handling the project to the tune of N2 billion and that work had stopped on the site.
“The headquarters project embarked upon by the commission may soon become one of the most significant victims of the commission’s declining budgetary allocations if something urgent is not done.
“This project was embarked upon in 2011. Work has temporarily stopped on the site due to the dearth of funds, as the commission is already behind in payments to the tune of N2 billion.
“The completion of this project will enable the commission work under one roof as against the current practice of operating from several expensive rented accommodation scattered all over Abuja,” the report noted.
The report indicated that the commission successfully secured 67 convictions in 2011, out of which the largest number came from Lagos zone with 36 convicts, followed by Abuja with 15. Enugu zone had six, while Kano had four, followed by Port Harcourt and Gombe with three each.
Delay in prosecution of corruption cases
On the public criticism that the EFCC has not done enough to convict high profile public officers, the agency explained that its mandate was limited to the level of investigation and prosecution of economic and financial crime cases.
“The task of trial, conviction and sentencing/or acquittal is constitutionally that of the courts. The anxiety of the public to see expeditious justice done seems to have led some people to put the blame of the slow machinery of justice in the prosecution of corruption cases on the doorsteps of the EFCC.
“While the commission shares the public anxiety, it cannot take the entire blame for the inordinate delay in the prosecution and conclusion of cases brought before the courts.
“The solution lies in the overhaul of our criminal justice system in a manner that further re-tools the Rules of Court and the Law of Evidence in order to ensure that cases of corruption and other economic crimes are expeditiously treated and concluded,” the report suggested.