Corruption, EFCC And Validation Of NACS

By Casmir Igbokwe

My intervention on this page last week drew some flak from unexpected quarters. Titled, ‘EFCC’s searchlight on Bello, Obiano and naira abusers’, the article mentioned the prosecution of two former governors – Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and Willie Obiano of Anambra State – by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Their cases came up penultimate week in two different courts in Abuja. The piece also discussed the jailing of a cross-dresser, Okuneye Idris Olanrewaju also known as Bobrisky, and the prosecution of Pascal Okechukwu also known as Cubana Chief Priest, in two different courts in Lagos for allegedly abusing the naira.

Hardly had the newspaper hit the news stand when one of Obiano’s aides (name withheld) queried why I added his principal in the write-up. “Let’s remove our personal biases from issues,” he fired. Obiano’s case, he added, was sub judice and my article was a continuation of what he called the media trial.    

He then concluded, “I was only reminding you an aspect of the press law that you know but might have failed to apply. Stay your comment on a matter that is sub judice. You would have your day when judgment would have been delivered. Comment on Obiano there is misapplication and completely inappropriate. It is simply a media trial. Seek legal opinion. After judgment, you can then run your comment. It is permitted under the law. I do not want to exploit the situation. We are friends and from the same state and as well as colleagues…”

Well, I’m not a lawyer. But, my simple response to him was that matters in court could be reported so long as it’s contemporaneous with what transpired in court. Besides, fair comment or reference to a case in court is not sub judice. What makes it sub judice is when one writes to influence the outcome. Let’s leave this here for now.    

The EFCC has also been accused of media trial many times. It is pertinent to note that the way and manner the Chairman of the Commission, Ola Olukoyede, spoke about the case with former Governor Bello further lent his critics the weapon to attempt to shoot him down. The EFCC boss had recently gathered some media executives in Abuja and made more damaging allegations against Bello. He accused him of taking the sum of $720,000 out of his state government’s account to settle the school fees of his children in advance shortly before leaving office. The school, American International School, Abuja, reportedly wrote the anti-graft agency to provide account number where a refund of the money could be made. It reportedly followed up by fully refunding $760,000 to the recovery account of the EFCC. Bello was accused of allegedly misappropriating about N80.2 billion belonging to Kogi State Government while he was governor.

Perhaps, Olukoyede’s passion for the job pushed him to threaten to resign as the EFCC Chairman if he failed to personally oversee the completion of the investigation regarding Bello. While lamenting the damage advance fee fraudsters have inflicted on the country, Olukoyede said Nigerian banks lost over N8 billion in the first nine months of 2022 to these internet fraudsters otherwise known as Yahoo-Yahoo boys. Within the same period, the Nigerian economy reportedly lost $706 million through cybercrime. According to him, over 71 per cent of companies operating in Nigeria were victims of cybercrime in 2022 alone. He is still waiting for the report of 2023.  

What riled Olukoyede more was the 419 training schools allegedly recruiting primary school pupils across the country. According to him, the parents of these pupils usually consent to this practice by signing an undertaking. The minors reportedly close from school about 2pm and then end up in the so-called 419 training schools where they are indoctrinated into cybercrime. It is strange to know that this practice has been in existence for over a decade. Before these pupils enter the university, they have become experts in hacking.  

With this type of scenario, is it possible for the country to win the war against corruption? Well, as a member of the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (M&E) of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), I was part of the stakeholders’ round-table meeting in Abuja last week for the validation of the second phase of NACS 2022 – 2026. The meeting was part of the numerous efforts to eradicate corruption in Nigeria. The first phase of NACS, approved by the Federal Executive Council, ran from July 2017 to July 2021. The programme was established in compliance with Nigeria’s national and international obligations on fighting corruption. Nigeria had signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2003. It was ratified in 2004.

Organized by the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ) in Abuja in conjunction with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and funded by the European Union, the round-table meeting had a general overview of NACS 2022 – 2026 and the Action Plan. Mrs. Victoria Ojogbane, who is the Director Planning, Research and Statistics of the FMOJ implored the participants to give the document a good shot for the betterment of Nigeria. Mrs. Ojogbane represented the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs Beatrice Jedy-Agba.  

Mr. Dala Pwanakei, who represented the Project Manager of the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC 2), Dr Emmanuel Uche, spoke about the efforts to push NACS beyond federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) of government. According to him, the project is now implemented across six states: Adamawa, Anambra, Edo, Kano, Lagos and Plateau States. He wished that what couldn’t be accomplished in the first phase could be done in the second phase.

In the first phase, structures were put in place, some sensitization and monitoring were done. Nevertheless, as FMOJ’s facilitator of the programme, Dr Ada Chidi-Igbokwe, noted, critical bodies were omitted in the first phase. The Head of Service of the Federation, for instance, was not a member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) charged with the implementation of NACS. This, Dr Igbokwe noted, seriously affected the implementation of the first phase, as MDAs, which are under the Head of Service, were not committed.

Some other hindrances included the lack of a proper and functioning IMC whose responsibility it is to facilitate the Anti-Corruption Funding Framework (AFF) and development of sector-specific strategies in line with NACS. There are also budgetary challenges, especially with regard to the activities of the M&E Committee.  

The second phase comes with little changes. The IMC has now been expanded to include a number of high officials of government earlier omitted in the first phase.

It is imperative to note that NACS is anchored on five main pillars. They are prevention of corruption, public engagement, ethical re-orientation, enforcement and sanctions, and recovery and management of proceeds of crime. Implementation of the programme is phased into three levels. Level one revolves around strengthening the legal and institutional framework designed to prevent and combat corruption. Level two is about mainstreaming anti-corruption principles into governance and service delivery. Level three involves mainstreaming anti-corruption principles into sub-national public administration. All these are aimed at removing corruption related factors inhibiting government institutions’ accessibility and capacity to deliver quality service to Nigerians.    

With regard to the five technical objectives of NACS, stakeholders examined, among others, the strategies, key activities, implementing agencies, timeline and resources required to effectively achieve the desires objectives. In the area of prevention of corruption at the sub-national levels, for instance, key activities revolve around establishment of Anti-Corruption Bureau at all levels of government, passage or operationalization of anti-corruption laws modelled after the federal laws, establishment of Anti-Corruption and Transparency Monitoring Units (ACTUs) in state MDAs and local government areas (LGAs). Another key activity is designation of special courts for trial of corruption cases, including economic and financial crimes, in all the states of the federation. Some of the bodies or agencies expected to implement these activities are state governments, state Houses of Assembly, state ministries of justice, local government chairmen, EFCC, State MDAs, Office of the Heads of Civil Service of the States and the FMOJ.

The level three of the second technical objective which has to do with public engagement will aim at partly addressing what the EFCC boss lamented about primary school pupils being recruited for cybercrimes. Among other activities, implementing agencies will seek to review the school curricular at all levels of education to accommodate corruption related issues. They will also implement training programmes on ethics and corruption issues for teachers and lecturers of public and private-owned schools at sub-national levels as well as conduct extensive anti-corruption education for staff of all state MDAs and the private sector. Expected to implement these tasks are such agencies as the Federal Ministry of Education, State Ministries of Education, National Universities Commission (NUC), Nigeria Union of Teachers, EFCC, among others.

It is not my intention to bore you with technical details of the NACS Action Plan. The most important thing is for Nigerians to be aware of the efforts being made to combat corruption in Nigeria especially at the MDAs where corruption has festered. With the level of rot in the system, it is not certain how this will pan out. Nevertheless, we cannot avoid war because of deaths. We will continue to do our best to push out the narratives. The rest will hang on the shoulders of those whose duty it is to eradicate corruption in our system.


Re: EFCC’s searchlight on Bello, Obiano and naira abusers


While it is true that the focus on Bobrisky and Cubana Chief Priest and to an extension all presumed Naira abusers are unwanted distractions, the cases of former Governors Willie Obiano of Anambra State and Yahaya Bello of Kogi State are good indices in the fight against corruption. The two former governors are like dogs who chewed the bones hung on their necks for safe keeping and as a result deserve to account for their deeds or misdeeds, if you like, in office. Whatever becomes the outcome of their cases, their arraignments serve to remind those currently on seat and the ones that will come after that definitely a day of reckoning awaits all.

Aloy UzoekweAwka, Anambra08038503174


Those saddled with the responsibility of fighting corruption in Nigeria are too timid to call a spade a spade or call out former corrupt presidents – either directly or indirectly – to render account, and if need be, made to kiss the prison bars after due prosecution as observed in serious countries. Like Obasanjo, Tinubu when stung hardly forgives! He harbours a mind that fights back with tenacity, and when an occasion demands. Yahaya Bello is a dangerous snake who has only been scorched, not killed: he’ll certainly revive his Presidential ambition, come 2027. And this is bad music to Tinubu who feels Yahaya must be caged at all costs, and timely too. The so-called over N80 billion theft allegation is a mere facade or smokescreen to hide the political reason. Granted, though not conceding that it’s true, what has Yahaya Bello done that is any different from other corrupt former governors? But there are moral questions for all Nigerians. Had Yahaya successfully emerged president, would he not have been dusted, ‘cleaned up’ and decked in a Presidential attire? Would he be hunted by the EFCC today? Would he not be the hunter of the likes of Tinubu, Akpabio, and Dino Melaye? Would he not have the listed men as ‘guests’ of his appointed Head of the EFCC? There’s no true fight against graft in Nigeria. That’s why the more the EFCC sweats out and dramatises the catch of some new thieves of our billions of Naira, the more many thieves emerge with reckless abandon.

Edet Essien Esq. Cal. South, +234 701 987 2815

•Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, April 29, 2024

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