Premier anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is financially suffocated, a situation that has greatly impeded its capacity to fulfill its mandate of fighting corruption. Sources in the commission told newsbreak.ng Thursday, that the agency has stopped receiving petition because it no longer has the finances to investigate and prosecute alleged infractions of the country’s anti-graft laws. The leanness of the agency’s resources is due in part to its budget allocation, which has continued to slide in the last few years. According to a source, the agency’s budget rose as high as N22billion while it was headed by Mrs. Farida Waziri. The progressive dip in funding has hobbled the agency. EFCC sources disclosed that the commission is owing lawyers handling its cases and, often, is incapable of providing vehicles for operations. International donor funding has also been sliding. The pool of donor funding to the EFCC started drying up when Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, its pioneer chairman, was replaced with Mrs. Waziri, whose friendship with many of the Politically Exposed Persons being prosecuted by the agency blighted EFCC’s credibility. Mrs. Waziri famously got many of the agency’s best trained officers out of the commission because they were in charge of the prosecution of many PEPs, forcing the US to government to complain about the redeployment of US-trained investigators from the EFCC; the lull in the prosecution of high profile cases; and about the growing influence of indicted and corrupt former governors.
In 2012, proposal of N10.9billion to the EFCC was presented by the Budget Office of the Federation. This amounted to a 51 per cent slash of the overall N21.8billion requested by the agency, a development that attracted fierce criticism from the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption.
Last year, the Federal Government cut the agency’s budget by N11.7billion. Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde, explained that the EFCC had proposed N21.028 billion to fund its operations and lamented that only N10.32 billion presented by the Budget Office as part of the 2013 Appropriation Bill. EFCC Secretary, Mr. Steven Akomaye, famously raised an alarm that the agency was broke.
This year, N 21. 058 billion for the 2014 fiscal year while the Budget office proposed N10. 245 billion. The agency has a long list of cases that have gone cold, as there is no money to pay prosecutors. Investigations have also affected, with the EFCC now concentrating on internet fraudsters, leaving out PEPs except those who criticise the Presidency. An EFFC source said the inactivity of the commission has made its staff come up with a joke that says: “Corruption is a sleeping dog, let it lie”