President Muhammadu Buhari has warned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to avoid being used for partisan politics in its operations.
Mr Buhari also urged the leadership of the commission not to get dragged in personal feuds, but should, instead, focus on serving the nation and enforce good administration.
Mr Buhari made the remarks at the State House in Abuja during the unveiling of the EFCC Standard Operating Procedures, Policies, and Manuals, according to a statement issued by a spokesperson to the President, Femi Adeshina, on Friday.
“I must advise the leadership and operatives of this commission to resist the temptation of being used for partisan politics or be dragged into personal disputes. Your job is to serve the nation in its efforts to entrench good governance,’’ he said.
Over the years, the EFCC has been criticised for being an attack dog of the government in power, by going after politically-exposed-persons perceived to be opposed to the successive incumbent presidents or their interests.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) recently levelled similar allegation against the commission in the wake of its arrest of Wille Obiano, the immediate-past governor of Anambra State.
The party and some other groups said the arrest of the former governor who spent about six nights in EFCC custody from the day of his handing over as governor, “politically motivated witch-hunt.”
But the commission had always pushed back the allegation of politically motivated arrests or investigations, saying it never goes after anyone without reasonable grounds.
Mr Buhari, according to Mr Adshina’s statement, also commended the EFCC in what he described as an “excellent performance” of the leadersh8ip of the EFCC in securing 2,220 convictions within one year and recovering over N152 billion and $385 million.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to note that the war against corruption, which is one of the cardinal objectives of this administration, is being strengthened through the institutionalisation of operational procedures particularly as they form the building blocks of transparency and accountability in administration and public expenditure,’’ he said.
The president also commended the EFCC chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, for developing 26 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and 25 Policies and Manuals for the Departments, Units and Staff of the Commission while appreciating the support of the board, management and staff.
“Ladies and gentlemen, these outstanding feats achieved are being unveiled today and I would like to use this opportunity to encourage other Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, especially Law Enforcement Agencies to also ensure the standardisation of their processes within the extant laws and regulations as provided in our statutes,” he said..
He called on Nigerians to join in the fight against corruption.
“I invite you all to fight corruption in all its ramifications and join us to entrench good governance values and integrity within all our systems. As I have often said, “If we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill us as a nation,” he said.
The president said the development of the standards demonstrated the commitment of this administration to the fight against corruption and the acceptance of transparency and willingness to be subjected to scrutiny against set standards by services.
“This is a confirmation of national efforts against graft,’’ he said, “I understand from your remarks Mr Chairman, that these are the first collection of policy documents ever developed in the eighteen (18) years of the commission’s existence aimed at defining the institutional rules and operational guidelines while instituting uniformity in standards, improving efficiency and removing discretion from your operations.
“These are indeed remarkable achievements and are very commendable.’’
The president assured of a rules-based system in government business while providing the necessary enabling environment for effective implementation.
“You may recall ladies and gentlemen, that since we came into power in 2015, we have consistently demonstrated the necessary political will to fight corruption. We have ensured the operational independence of the anti-graft agencies, strengthened the legal framework, empowered the regulatory agencies and provided adequate funding to support the fight against corruption,’’ he added.
In his remarks, the chairman of EFCC noted that the institution was undergoing various phases of reforms to reposition it for the task of fighting financial crimes in the country, with the production of policies and manuals.
Mr Bawa said departments had been reorganised and upgraded, including intelligence gathering, training and the academic institutions, to meet the demands of the job.
Speaking further, the chairman noted that software had been developed for operations, and a mobile app, ‘The Evil Eye’, deployed for ease of reporting economic and financial crimes from the comfort of homes.
He said the EFCC already had a five-year strategic plan, 2021-2025, with clear and measurable targets, based on five objectives, which include improving public engagement to fight crimes, systems and processes for prevention, intelligence gathering prosecution and law enforcement.
“I will lead an agency that will be the pride of our country, Nigeria,’’ he said. It.(Premium Times)