Stay Away from Politics—Buhari Tells EFCC

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been warned to stay away from politics and focus on its core mandate of dealing with economic saboteurs.

This warning was given by President Muhammadu Buhari Friday in Abuja at the unveiling of the EFCC Standard Operating Procedures, Policies and Manuals at the State House.

Mr Buhari said the agency should not be partisan and must not become a tool in the hands of politicians or be used to settle personal disputes.

“I must advise the leadership and operatives of this commission to resist the temptation of being used for partisan politics or be dragged into personal disputes. Your job is to serve the nation in its efforts to entrench good governance,” the President was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina.

The President noted the excellent performance of the leadership of the EFCC in securing 2,220 convictions within one year and recovering over N152 billion and $385 million.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to note that the war against corruption, which is one of the cardinal objectives of this administration, is being strengthened through the institutionalization of operational procedures particularly as they form the building blocks of transparency and accountability in administration and public expenditure,” he said.

President Buhari also commended the EFCC Chairman, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, for efforts to further institutionalize the commission by developing 26 Standard Operating Procedures and 25 Policies and Manuals for the Departments, Units and staff of the agency while appreciating the support of the board, management and staff.

Mr Buhari said, “Ladies and gentlemen, these outstanding feats achieved are being unveiled today and I would like to use this opportunity to encourage other Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, especially law enforcement agencies to also ensure the standardization of their processes within the extant laws and regulations as provided in our statutes.

“I need not underscore the importance of today’s occasion but let me remind you that the stakes are high but national expectations are higher. Therefore, we must continue to strive and deal decisively with matters in accordance with the rule of law.

“On the part of the Government, we shall continue to accord all necessary support to MDAs in order to ensure the sustainability of the initiatives already commenced in actualizing our vision of a corrupt-free society.

“Let me conclude by saying that the fight against economic and financial crimes in Nigeria is a collective responsibility of all Nigerians if we are to make meaningful progress as a nation.

“I invite you all to fight corruption in all its ramifications and join us to entrench good governance values and integrity within all our systems. As I have often said, “If we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill us as a nation.”

President Buhari said the development of the standards demonstrate the commitment of this administration to the fight against corruption and the acceptance of transparency and willingness to be subjected to scrutiny against set standards by services.

“This is a confirmation of national efforts against graft,” he said, adding: “I understand from your remarks Mr Chairman, that these are the first collection of policy documents ever developed in the eighteen years of the commission’s existence aimed at defining the institutional rules and operational guidelines while instituting uniformity in standards, improving efficiency and removing discretion from your operations. These are indeed remarkable achievements and are very commendable.”

The President assured of a rules-based system in Government business while providing the necessary enabling environment for effective implementation.

“You may recall ladies and gentlemen, that since we came into power in 2015, we have consistently demonstrated the necessary political will to fight corruption. We have ensured the operational independence of the anti-graft agencies, strengthened the legal framework, empowered the regulatory agencies and provided adequate funding to support the fight against corruption,” he added.

In his remarks, the Chairman of EFCC noted that the institution was undergoing various phases of reforms to reposition it for the task of fighting financial crimes in the country, with the production of policies and manuals.

The chairman thanked the President and the National Assembly for the confidence reposed in his “ability and competence’’ to take over the leadership of the organisation in 2021.

Mr Bawa said departments had been reorganised and upgraded, including intelligence gathering, training and the academic institutions, to meet the demands of the job, adding that software had been developed for operations, and a mobile app, The Evil Eye, deployed for ease of reporting economic and financial crimes from the comfort of homes.

He said the EFCC already had a five-year strategic plan, 2021-2025, with clear and measurable targets, based on five objectives, which include improving public engagement to fight crimes, systems and processes for prevention, intelligence gathering, prosecution and law enforcement.

“I will lead an agency that will be the pride of our country, Nigeria,” he said.

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