Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), a non-governmental organisation, on Thursday called for review of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Act to enable it to serve Nigerians better.
COSEYL also asked for reforms in EFCC to ensure its competence and effectiveness in checking corruption.
The group made the call in a news release signed by the coalition’s President-General, Chief Goodluck Ibem, and Secretary-General, Mr Kanice Igwe, and made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Aba on Thursday.
COSEYL said that although Nigerians had in the past complained of governments subjecting the body to hunting down political enemies, recent developments had shown the need to reform the body.
It said EFCC, created during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration to fight financial crimes, enjoyed the goodwill of local and international community and partners but had failed to meet expectations of the citizenry.
“COSEYL expresses deep regret that since its creation, the commission has been largely used by governments in power to hunt down opposition and to stifle voices of dissent.
“However, the body left, in most cases certain persons, mostly party members in power, as the proverbial “sacred cows”.
“Although few cases exist where the commission has gone after persons in government, not much has been seen in terms of prosecution of such politicians in ruling parties.
“It beats the Coalition’s imagination that in spite of billions of dollars reportedly recovered by the commission from corrupt public office holders, Nigerians are yet to feel the impact of such monies meaningfully,” it said.
The body said that the structure of the commission could hardly enable it to function independently as long as its chairman remained an appointee of the executive.
It said that although the body was aware of EFCC’s successes, the anti-financial crimes agency had yet to prove its effectiveness in fighting the economic crimes in Nigeria which appeared to be escalating daily.
The Coalition criticised the appointment of the commission’s head by the country’s presidents and called for a review of the EFCC Act to enable it to operate independently of the executive or other arms of government.
It argued that had the president not had the power to appoint EFCC’s head, it would have been impossible to retain Ibrahim Magu as acting head notwithstanding unfavourable security reports against him.
“It is ideal that the appointments, sack and remuneration of the commission’s staff members are done outside the presidency as should be appropriate.
“Also, the Coalition suggests that for anybody to be appointed chairman of the commission, he should be subjected to intelligence agencies scrutiny for six months,” it said.
The group called for the appointment of a South Easterner to the post of EFCC head adding that following the federal character rule, the leadership of the body should be given to another geo-political zone.
The coalition noted that as constituted, EFCC could not work for the benefit of Nigerian masses or be insulated from political influence except the laws establishing it were reviewed.(NAN)