During the screening of the final batch of 28 ministerial nominees presented to the Senate by President Bola Tinubu, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, the nominee from Kwara, made a compelling case for the unbundling of Nigeria’s major anti-corruption agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Expressing his concerns about the current approach to combating corruption in Nigeria, Fagbemi emphasized the need for significant changes in the structure of these agencies. He noted that while the fight against corruption is essential, the current methods employed leave much to be desired.
In his words, “The truth must be told, you fight corruption, but at the same time, the way it’s fought in Nigeria leaves much to be desired. That is the truth.”
Fagbemi proposed that the EFCC and ICPC be separated and placed under different supervisory authorities. He argued that handling both investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses by the same body could lead to conflicts of interest and hinder effective outcomes.
He explained, “If there is an investigation, it is another body; the prosecution is another body. It doesn’t augur well to ask the same authority to do an investigation and come and do prosecution. That is when we have a problem.”
Fagbemi also stressed the importance of conducting thorough investigations, particularly in cases of serious corruption. He cited the example of the arrest of the notorious fraudster Hushpuppi, where years of diligent investigation led to a successful apprehension. He suggested that Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies should adopt a similar approach, patiently gathering evidence before making arrests.
“It shouldn’t be that when a given governor leaves office, let’s go; EFCC is investigating you. That is not the way to investigate criminal matters,” Fagbemi emphasized.
He concluded by urging the authorities to adopt a more effective and efficient strategy in the fight against corruption, comparable to the methods employed by renowned agencies like the FBI in the United States.
Mr. Lateef Fagbemi’s call for the unbundling of the EFCC and ICPC has sparked discussions and raised questions about potential reforms to enhance the effectiveness of Nigeria’s anti-corruption efforts. As the Senate continues its screening of ministerial nominees, his proposal is likely to remain a topic of significant interest and debate among policymakers and citizens alike.
His words: “The truth must be told, you fight corruption, but at the same time, the way it’s fought in Nigeria leaves much to be desired. That is the truth.
“If I have my way, I will advise the President to unbundle, first of all, bring out ICPC and EFCC together and unbundle them,” he said.
He said that the investigation of criminal offenses should not be handled by the same body, adding that there must be a supervisory authority within the same system.
“If there is an investigation, it is another body; the prosecution is another body. It doesn’t augur well to ask the same authority to do an investigation and come and do prosecution. That is when we have a problem.
“Investigation takes time, especially in serious corruption cases. Are we prepared to wait?
“My take is that a situation should be created such as the one that happened when Hushpuppi was arrested.
“They had been trailing him for years; he didn’t know, and nobody will talk to him. But the day they said the time was up, he also knew that the time was up,” he said.
He also said that the investigation should be thorough.
“It shouldn’t be that when a given governor leaves office, let’s go; EFCC is investigating you. That is not the way to investigate criminal matters.
“You can take your time to prosecute, but when you do not, it should be like the way an average American will react when the FBI knocks at the door.”