The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is to enjoy the support of the World Bank in the areas of facilities and capacity building to further strengthen the anti-graft war in Nigeria.
Dr. Ed Olowo-Okere, Director, Governance Global Practice, World Bank gave this assurance on Thursday, during a visit to the EFCC at the Commission’s Head Office, Abuja.
Acknowledging the tremendous work of the EFCC and the feat it had attained in the last 14 years of its establishment, Dr. Olowo-Okere went down the memory lane to recall his familiarity with the works of the Commission and some of the challenges the agency had when it was first created, pledging support in any area possible to further enhance its operations.
“We are preparing an operation called ‘Economic Governance Project’. It is supposed to be a follow-up project to the one approved by the World Bank in 2004. The Ministry of Finance has said that one of the agencies they would like us to work with and support under the project is EFCC. We are here today to start that conversation”, Olowo-Okere said.
Responding, Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman, EFCC, acknowledged the great assistance the Commission had been receiving from the World Bank and other development partners saying, “the assistance has in no small measure contributed to the successes recorded by the EFCC so far”.
Giving a brief recap of the history of EFCC Magu said, “When we started the EFCC, there was no money. We borrowed money from Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE, for effective take-off of our operations. When the international community saw the sincerity in us, how we were able to arrest and put in cell those high profile criminals that nobody dared to touch before, they got convinced by our commitment towards prosecuting the anti-corruption war”.
He went further that “We got a lot of attention from development partners particularly the World Bank, who gave us a lot of money that was used to construct the EFCC Academy. Britain and America too are also of tremendous support.”
The EFCC boss expressed concern over the delay usually experienced in dispensing corruption cases and the conspiracy (in some cases) between the criminals and judicial workers/law enforcement agents to make violators of law escape justice, citing the case of a former governor of Adamawa State, Bala Ngilari who was set free with the connivance of a prison warder and court registrar after being convicted by court.
Expressing the passion the EFCC has for the war against corruption, Magu said, “EFCC needs training in money laundering as it is still a new concept which most judges and prosecutors still need to better understand”.
The anti-graft czar also informed the delegation of the low budgetary allocation to EFCC expressing his desire to have the construction work on the Commission’s permanent site completed this year for effective performance.
Magu, while commending President Muhammadu Buhari for making corruption fight a cardinal focus of his administration said, “the proposal made to the World Bank, will go a long way in the completion of our permanent site as most of our offices are rented and scattered around town, exposing us to risk of confidentiality and coded surveillance by outsiders.”
Other needs listed by the EFCC boss included, ICT infrastructure, upgrading of the forensic laboratory, surveillance tools and operational vehicles.
On the visit were Hisham Waly, Manager, World Bank; Ismaila Ceesay, Lead Financial Specialist; Manuel Vargas and Roland Lomme, Senior Governance Specialist.