The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ola Olukoyede, on Thursday, raised the alarm about the craze for gratification and bribes among the commission’s investigators, noting that he had a process in motion to fish them out.
Olukoyede made this disclosure on Thursday in his New Year address to staff members of the anti-graft agency at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
According to the EFCC chairman, public opinion about EFCC investigators is poor, a situation he described as embarrassing for the anti-graft agency.
He warned that such conduct would no longer be tolerated under his watch, vowing that he would wield the big stick against investigators taking bribes.
Olukoyede said, “At this point, I need to strongly reiterate the issue of discipline, integrity and sense of responsibility in the way we do our work. Public opinions about the conduct of some of our investigators are adverse. The craze and quest for gratification, bribes and other compromises by some of our investigators are becoming too embarrassing and this must not continue. Let me sound a note of warning in this regard. I will not hesitate to wield the big stick against any form of infraction by any staff of the Commission. The Department of Internal Affairs has been directed to be more ardent in its work and monitor every staff in all their engagements. The image of the commission is too important to be placed on the line by any corrupt officer.”
He said steps were already being taken to improve the welfare of EFCC staff members.
“I may not talk about specifics. However, the new year promises to bring smiles on the faces of staff across all the commands. We will continue to do our best to put all of you at your best. However, to whom much is given, much is expected,” the EFCC chairman said.
While noting that last year threw up monstrous challenges on the corporate strength of the EFCC, Olukoye said the commission had been able to stabilise the system and roll out fresh initiatives and policy direction for the EFCC following his appointment as chairman which came in the last quarters of 2023.
He said, “As you would recall, our new policy drive is premised on a three-pronged agenda and blueprint. The first plank of the agenda is proper focusing on the mandate of the EFCC. All over the world, the major objective of war against corruption and financial crimes is to drive economic development and create wealth and job opportunities for the populace. We need to come to these realities and operate by them. Our nation is in dire straits. We need to continue to do everything possible to stimulate the revenue profile of Nigeria.
“There is no agency of government as crucial to the nation’s quest for growth and development as the EFCC. We have all it takes to bring up the profile and developmental index of our nation. I urge all of you to be steadfast and committed to this clarion.
“The second plank of our policy direction is putting modalities in place for running the administration and governance of the nation at various levels in a most responsible, accountable and transparent manner as well as building and promoting the international image and reputation of Nigeria in the eye of the world as a country that is worthy of attracting foreign direct investments. To achieve all these, preventive mechanisms against corruption, adherence to the rule of law and engagement of diverse publics in the nation in the fight, are imperative.
“I equally talk about the overarching need for a transactional credit system as a potent means of keeping corruption at bay. We need to encourage this and motivate Nigerians in this area. I want to particularly harp on the preventive modality which is the centerpiece of our new engagement. We are already building strength in this area through restructuring of the layers of the commission. I want every staff to be in tune with the new arrangement.”
He further hinted at the need for staff members of the EFCC to familiarise themselves with the commission’s reviewed guidelines for arrests and bail.
Olukoyede added, “Let me also talk about the review of the arrest and bail guidelines which I expect everyone to be familiar with by now. The review is informed by the need for us to conform with international best practices in law enforcement. We are a civilised anti-graft agency. Arrest and bail would henceforth be done in line with the rule of law. Our investigators should particularly take note of this. It is important for us to understand the dynamics of the world in the area of law enforcement. Change is the most permanent fact of life. We should not be seen to be resisting changes in our work.
“Lastly, I have always said that we are all privileged to be staff of the EFCC. There is this Latin phrase that says, noblesse oblige, meaning, nobility demands responsibility. This is the crux of the matter. We should dignify the privilege of being EFCC staff with proportionate responsibility. It is both a duty and an obligation. I wish you all the best in the New Year.”
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.