The Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ola Olukoyede, has said some of the investigators are in the habit of demanding bribes from crime suspects, thus eroding the integrity of the agency.
Olukoyode warned the erring anti-graft agency’s investigators that they would be dealt with if they failed to retrace their steps with the policy’s guidelines, which are erected on responsibility, accountability, and transparency.
The EFCC boss made this known to the Commission’s members of staff during his New Year address at the Headquarters in Abuja.
President Bola Tinubu appointed Olukoyede as the EFCC helmsman in October 2023, following the suspension of Abdulrasheed Bawa in July, over suspected infractions while in office.
He told the agency staff that the public views about their operations are not friendly, saying, “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.”
Earlier in his address, the anti-graft agency’s boss urged the staff to be up and doing, as he added that the development of the country depends on the competence of the Commission in dealing with corruption.
Olukoyede 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 properly focusing on the mandate of the EFCC. All over the world, the major objective of the 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
“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.”
He urged the staff to adhere to the rule of law, and strife to promote the image of the agency and protect the reputation of the country, in order to attract foreign investors, with the direct aim of boosting the economy of Nigeria.
“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,” he stated.
“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 the restructuring of the layers of the Commission. I want every staff to be in tune with the new arrangement.”
Speaking about the arrest and bail guidelines, the EFCC boss said, “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.
“We are mindful of the increasing need for the welfare of staff and steps are being taken in this regard. 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.
“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.”
The Legal Attache of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Jack Smith, hailed the appointment of Olukoyede as the EFCC boss, when he paid him a courtesy visit, in November last year, praising him that “the rebranding and other positive initiatives are good.”
EFCC is currently investigating the alleged N37.1 billion fraud under the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Saddiya Umar Faruq.