In a transformative move, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to revolutionize its approach, steering away from mere arrests and prosecutions towards a more holistic strategy that fosters economic development. Ola Olukoyede, the Chairman of the EFCC, disclosed these changes during an interaction with civil society organizations at the commission’s national headquarters in Abuja.
Olukoyede acknowledged the crucial role civil society plays in unearthing corruption, revealing that approximately 80% of major ongoing investigations stem from petitions initiated by these groups. Emphasizing the need for a shift in focus, he stressed that the EFCC’s role shouldn’t solely revolve around arrests and detentions but should actively contribute to economic growth.
Drawing attention to the disparity in gains from investigations, Olukoyede highlighted the Haliburton case, where the United States generated $3 billion, contrasting with Nigeria’s lack of financial benefit. He urged EFCC operatives to consider the economic consequences of their actions, suggesting that shutting down entire businesses during investigations could be counterproductive.
A key reform outlined by Olukoyede is a centralized system to monitor seized properties undergoing investigation for money laundering, with a revised approach to marking these properties discreetly to avoid stigmatization. The chairman emphasized that the focus should be on the actual funds being investigated rather than disrupting entire companies.
Additionally, the EFCC plans a comprehensive policy review to identify areas needing improvement. Olukoyede emphasized the need for a sophisticated white-collar anti-graft agency and revised guidelines for arrests and detentions in compliance with the constitution.
Acknowledging the importance of the rule of law, Olukoyede affirmed his commitment to serving the nation diligently, recognizing the potential for anyone to transition from a position of authority to an average Nigerian. The pledge to uphold the rule of law aligns with the EFCC’s mission to strike a balance between its anti-graft efforts and fostering a conducive environment for economic growth and development.