By George Onah
A Port Harcourt-based legal practitioner and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mr. Sebastine Hon has disagreed with the suggestion by the Attorney-General of the Federation that the EFCC and ICPC be merged, stating that the fight against corruption cannot be won by the AGF disagreeing with the anti-graft bodies.
Hon who spoke in Port Harcourt, said the two bodies in Nigeria were being under funded when viewed against the operations of their counterparts in the US, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI.
He said the difficulty in fighting corruption in Nigeria was traceable to the political class, some of who are brigands masquerading as leaders and cultural issues such as worshiping the rich irrespective of the source of their wealth.
“I totally disagree with the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation that the EFCC and the ICPC be merged, for achievement of optimum results in the fight against corruption and abuse of office.
I base my opposition on an incisive study in the history and operations of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI); since the EFCC and the FBI perform substantially the same functions. A comparative analysis is imperative here.
The annual budget of the FBI is 50 times more than the budget of the EFCC and the ICPC combined. The FBI’s staff strength is over 50,000, made up mainly of highly trained personnel.
But the staff strength of the EFCC and the ICPC combined is less than 5,000, made up of largely untrained personnel. The over 50,000 staff strength of the FBI is to police 309 million Americans (going by the population of the USA as at 2010).
On the other hand, the less than 5,000 staffers of the EFCC and the ICPC are to police 150 million Nigerians. Since the population of Nigeria is half of that of the USA, the staff strength of the EFCC and the ICPC ought to have been half of the staff strength of the FBI – which would then have been at least 25,000.
The corruption index in the USA is 7.5%; while that in Nigeria is 2.5%. Since corruption index is measured upside down over 10, there is far greater level of corruption in Nigeria than in the USA.
Now, we have a poorly funded and heavily understaffed EFCC/ICPC fighting a more entrenched corrupt system being compared with a far more funded and better equipped FBI fighting a far less entrenched corrupt system. The difference is indeed very clear.
While the FBI was established over 80 years ago,the EFCC was established just about seven years ago.
The FBI has, since being established, undergone reorganization and has experienced far more grave criticisms over the years than the EFCC and the ICPC.
Therefore, while not advocating lethargy on the part of the EFCC and the ICPC in the discharge of their duties, I wish to submit that the FBI took decades to develop to the stage it is today.