By Dele Oyewale

In quantitative terms, it takes sunlight an average of eight minutes and twenty seconds to travel from the Sun to the Earth. This is what scientists call speed of light. This is also the corollary of happenings in the anti-corruption corridor since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu assumed office as President and Commander- in- Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. With the score sheet of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, even the harshest cynics in town would concede that there are unassailable facts on ground to establish the potency of the government’s anti- graft efforts.

It all started with the right foot Tinubu put forward by appointing Ola Olukoyede, a thorough- bred fraud- cracker as his pointsman in the anti- corruption space. Success is never happenstance. The latin adage ” ex nihil nihilo” ( nothing comes from nothing) bears tangential truth to the appropriateness of the choice of Olukoyede as the nation’s number one corruption fighter.
The avalanche of achievements of the EFCC in the last one year confirms this.

For fraudsters, the last one year of Tinubu’s government has been one hell of a year. The EFCC alone secured 3412 convictions and made staggering monetary convictions ranging from N161, 642, 239, 207. 11( One Hundred and Sixty One Billion, Six Hundred and Forty Two Million, Two Hundred and Thirty Nine Thousand, Two Hundred and Seven Naira, Eleven Kobo) to $51, 793,374.71, £26, 465.00, €187447.10, ₹51,360.00, C$3,850.00, A$740.00, ¥74,754.00, R35,000.00, 42,390.00 UAE Dirhams, 247.00 Riyals and 21,580, 867631 Crypto Currency. This feat undoubtedly raises higher stakes for the nation’s anti- graft initiatives.

More poignant in the narrative is the evidently busy schedules of the EFCC in keeping faith with its mandate. Olukoyede came with clear- eyed commitment towards rejigging the Commission’s modus operandi. Today, the EFCC has become more urbane and humane in its arrest and bail procedures, without compromising its professionalism and credibility. Raids have become an old song. Marauder- like manner of invading crime scenes no longer hold water. Whimsical closure of business premises is gone for good. It is a new dawn of civilised engagement in breaking the fangs of criminality.

The trickle- down effects of the paradigm shifts in the operational dynamics of the EFCC are manifesting already. Foreign direct investments are coming up, local business community is sending signals of hope and the entire nation is applauding the fresh air coming from the Commission. It is no longer news that the EFCC is already building strength in deepining preventive frameworks in tackling the menace of economic and financial crimes and other acts of corruption. The logic of this modality is derived from the simple fact that it is cheaper and more functional to prevent corruption than to fight it when its cancer is already spreading. To give stronger teeth to this initiative, Olukoyede has established a full- fledged department called Fraud Risk Assessment and Control, FRAC.

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The terms of reference of FRAC is to identify the vulnerability of Ministries, Agencies and Departments, MDAs to corruption and launch preventive rockets against it. The contract and procurement processes and procedures in MDAs have been fingered as breeding grounds of corruption. FRAC is working already to sanitise these areas. The EFCC has called for anti- corruption blueprints of MDAs and other critical structures of government, including the Presidency, National Assembly and Judiciary to ensure that their contract and procurement processes and procedures are corruption- proof. Modalities for tracking contracts are in place. Investigative binoculars of the Commission are being put into good uses to ensure that abuses of anti- graft structures in public and private institutions are minimised. All these are practical preventive measures for tackling corrupt practices. With this kind of FRAC architecture in the EFCC, it is certain that the preventive agenda is in firm footing.

Operationally, the EFCC has its hands full of works in last one year of Tinubu’s administration. To show its strong teeth against corrupt practices, the government suspended a serving Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Betta Edu alongside the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA), Halima Shehu over alleged corruption issues. Ex-Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouk is currently under investigation over alleged N37.1 billion fraud. In addition to this, alleged fraudulent dealings involving Covid-19 funds, World Bank loan and recovered Abacha loot, released to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management are being investigated. Several other former ministers including Olu Agunloye, erstwhile minister of power and steel development, Hadi Sirika, defunct minister of aviation and aerospace development, former governors, Willy Obiano( Anambra), Abdulfatah Ahmed( Kwara), Yahaya Bello( Kogi) and other former state and non- state actors are facing trial by the EFCC. All these are politically exposed persons.

The onslaught against internet fraudsters is all too known. The effectiveness of the works of the Commission in all other areas has made it difficult for its critics to prime their guns against it. There is no basis for anyone to accuse the EFCC of being selective in its activities any longer. Investigation and prosecution of internet fraudsters, politically exposed persons, captains of industries, heads of MDAs, private individuals and organisations have knocked the bottom against ardent critics of the Commission. The dynamics and fervour of operations in the last one year are simply breath-taking and this promises to continue with the obviously strong political will of the government to combat corrupt practices. Objective commentators and analysts are daily applauding the pace of the Commission in this respect.

Can we forget to mention the momentum of growth the local economy is gaining in recent times through the EFCC? The Special Task Force against Naira Abuse and Dollarisation of the Economy is busy on its assigned mandate. Till date, not less than 50 convictions have been secured by the EFCC against currency racketeers across the country. The convictions cut across different layers of the society and this is within the one year span of the present administration. The basis of crackdown on the Naira abusers is incontrovertible. The Naira is the symbol and identity of our local economy. It is Nigerian legal tender. What the EFCC has been doing is to protect its sanctity and strength and so far, the gains are coming forth. The war against foreign exchange speculators and market disrupters is ongoing. Sanity is being restored in the foreign exchange market and we can only commend the genius of Olukoyede and his team in this regard. President Tinubu has also shown that he is not at home with corruption and he deserves a pat on the back.

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Are there challenges the EFCC has been facing in the last one year? Yes! It is public knowledge that corruption has been fighting back viciously. This is expected. In all honesty, the Commission cannot be adjudged to be focussed on its mandate without such resistance. Every opposition to anti- corruption work is affirmation of its potency and impact. More assuring, however, is the stronger and more engaging public support the Commission has been enjoying. As Olukoyede always say: ” “Nigerians are not fundamentally corrupt. It is the operating systems that are breeding corruption!”. This simply is the kernel of the whole matter. Broad- based support for the works of the EFCC confirms that Nigerians are intrinsically opposed to corruption and this alone is the pillar the Commission is resting upon. The trajectory of the moment is assuring. One year of anti- corruption works of the Tinubu’s government is engaging and fruitful. The EFCC is on course and prospects of corruption- free Nigeria are getting brighter.

Oyewale is head, media & publicity of the EFCC.

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