June 9, 2009

Fear of EFCC, ICPC

Who will guard the guards — Ancient Roman saying

SENATE President, David Bonaventure Mark is afraid that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its poorer cousin, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) would have too much power without another body supervising their work.

His elaborate presentation at the public hearing on amendments to the laws setting up both bodies stated his fears about the fact that the agencies could become authoritarian and curb the rights of citizens.

“While the amendments being envisaged are meant to strengthen these agencies, care must be taken not to concentrate too much power on them to a level where they act irresponsibly and contrary to all known dictates of democracy, which is the hallmark of the rule of law,” Senator Mark said.

“The agencies must not become power drunk and authoritarian or become instruments of vengeance, witch-hunt or a terror machine. Who supervises those who are charged to investigate? Who supervises the ICPC? Who investigates the EFCC?,” he asked, in tunes that indicated that these bodies may soon lose the powers, some of which they have abused.

Fears persist that these amendments may be the final lines to close the era of any attempt to fight corruption. “The proposed amendment would rather limit than enhance the work of the  Commission,” EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri told the gathering. “Honestly, we are being frustrated because the man you pick looks you in the face and says you are wasting your time,” she said while making a case for special courts to handle financial crimes.

Mrs. Waziri said the proposed section, “seems to give the impression that the targeted group for the commission is the political class.” Politicians could then be fighting to protect themselves.

“We need a body to do that, otherwise, as we all know, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. We must be careful so that we do not concentrate too much power in one agency, otherwise we are going to run into problem,” Mark had said in his presentation.

“They are human beings,” he said of EFCC and ICPC. “The tendency is that one person will now begin to use them to hunt others. We use them against our enemies, and then allow them to digress from tackling corruption.

“We need another body which we must legislate properly to supervise and investigate the agencies we are setting up to fight corruption.”

In amending these laws to fight corruption, expectations are that the EFCC and ICPC should be merged. They are dissipating resources doing the same work. There is no need to supervise the anti-corruption agency since its operators do not have immunity.

Our laws must be strengthened in a way that their operators can be punished for abuse of the law or their offices. Who would supervise the supervisory body of the anti-corruption agency?

We do not need another layer of bureaucracy to encumber the fight against corruption unless we want to finally inter it.