Capacity Of The EFCC To Forensically Investigate Crimes Under Its Purview Have Been Boosted By The Federal Bureau Of Investigations But Ex-Neiti Chairman Says Both The Agency, Icpc And National Assembly Are Not Primed To Fight Corruption
In the bid to enhance capacity of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to discharge its functions effectively, United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has donated a forensic work station to the commission.
This is even as the former Chairman of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (NEITI), Prof. Assisi Asobie says that the leadership of the Senate, as presently constituted, may disrupt balance of power needed to support the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The FBI largesse, technically referred to as F.R.E.D (Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device), was presented to the Head of Operations, Lagos Zonal office of the EFCC, Iliyasu Kwarbai by United State’s acting Consul General, Dehab Ghereab.
A statement signed by the Head of Media and Publicity at the commission, Wilson Uwujaren, said the equipment will also enhance EFCC’s capacity to fight cyber crime and standardize operations.
Commenting, a technical support official with the FBI, Fritz Kennely, said the device would help the commission in analyzing, processing and preservation of digital evidence which can be presented in court in a clear, concise and understandable manner, thereby aiding judges to adjudicate effectively. Receiving the tool, Kwarbai thanked the FBI for its support to the Commission in the areas of manpower development and investigation.
The acting Consula general also lauded the long-term partnership between the FBI and EFCC which she said has existed for more than a decade. She commended the commission for its professionalism and encouraged it to keep up the good work.
Meanwhile, former chairman of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (NEITI), Prof. Assisi Asobie, has declared that the leadership of the senate, as presently constituted, may disrupt balance of power needed to support the anti corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Asobie, who also is a former President of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), further told President Buhari to dump his current ad-hoc means of fighting corruption and adopt an enduring strategic plan to tackle the scourge. Prof Asobie gave the advice at the public presentation of two books written by Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, as part of activities to mark his 65th birthday, in Abuja.
In attendance at the forum were minority chief whip of the senate, Senator Philip Aduda, his deputy, Biodun Olujimi among others senators The university don argue that composition of the senate leadership, which has a Deputy Senate President of the opposition PDP, and chairman of the Senate Committee on Public account from the same party, would not encourage the fight against corruption.
He said balance of power which the opposition is constitutionally empowered to provide through the public account committee may be compromised each time the deputy senate president takes charge of the senate in the absence of the senate president. Senator Aduda in swift reaction however, blamed the executive for the lapses.
He accused the executive of not implementing resolutions of the senate. The ex-NEITI boss noted that the best institutions that could adequately tackle corruption was the National Assembly which he said regularly received report of the Auditor- General of the Federation and that of the Code of Conduct Bureau.
According to him the current practice by the Buhari administration using the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), to wage war on corruption, was not the best way to achieve desired results. “The president cannot fight corruption using ad-hoc means. He should fight corruption with a strategies plan and the United Nations require that.
“When I was in NEITI, I was opportune to put the anti-corruption briefs together and produce a draft strategy plan. “That draft has not been approved by the executive council till now; we need a strategy plan so that we don’t fight corruption selectively and you don’t also politicize it”, he said.
He said the country should not concentrate on ICPC and EFCC, but should rather focus on the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, and the Code of Conduct Bureau because they report to the Public Accounts Committee of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
Asobie explained that the chairmen of the public accounts committees, by convention, must be members of the minority party, which ought to make use of the facts and figures before them to expose politicians, who were covered by immunity. “The committees can make use of the Auditor-General report made available to them to investigate any agency of government including that of the presidency; so the president who is covered by immunity, could be investigated by the National Assembly”, he stated.
Asobie also said the situation was made easier with the emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President, from the opposition PDP. “If we have a situation where by the PDP chairs the public account committee and also has the possibility of presiding over the senate, if the Senate President is not there, then the balance of power has been disrupted.
“The PDP senator is the chairman of the committee that can get information about corruption but the majority party will chair the Senate to balance it. But since there is a possibility that Saraki could be absent and then the person that would act in absence is a PDP member, that disrupts the convention and the nation would be better for it”, Asobie argued.
He therefore urged the National Assembly not to take the issue of corruption with levity, lamenting that they were not currently doing enough to fight against graft. “What the National Assembly can do with the reports is impeachment which is targeted at politically exposed persons that are protected by immunity but not protected by the National Assembly.
“Therefore National Assembly cannot take the issue of fighting corruption with levity with what they are doing now”, he said. However, the Senate Minority Whip, Senator Philip Aduda, (PDP, FCT), who also attended the book presentation, said the National Assembly, was doing its best to expose corrupt practices but lamented that its resolutions were usually ignored by the executive.
– Emeka Ekpunobi and Faith Aghaeze, Abuja