Nigerian lawyers and activists are divided over the proposed merger of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC). This follows from a range of separate interviews they gave in Lagos.
Mr Onyekachi Ubani, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch, said it was imperative for both agencies to be merged in order to become more effective. Ubani, however, said the mere merger of the agencies would have no impact on the anti-corruption war if there was no political will by government to tackle corruption. “I am still of the view that the political will of the government in power is crucial to the fight against corruption. “It is the government that determines who is appointed as chairman of the agency and it needs to let it function without undue interference,” he added.
Another lawyer and former lawmaker, Mr Ehiogie-West Idahosa, also said the merger was necessary due to the similarities of the functions of the EFCC and ICPC. West-Idahosa, a former member of the Federal House of Representatives (Ovia North-East and Ovia South-West Constituency), said the merger would cut the cost of funding both agencies. “There have been a number of cases where both organisations had gone after the same suspect and in the end, missing out as a result of conflicting interest,” he explained.
An opposite opinion was expressed by a human rights activist, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, who disagreed with the proposed merger, stressing that both agencies had their specified constitutional duties. “The ICPC deals with corrupt practices by public officials, while the EFCC has a broader mandate to fight economic crimes, both within the public and private sectors. “It is not only in Nigeria that we have many anti-corruption agencies. In some countries, they have more than 15 agencies – each specialising on different areas,” he said. He urged the government to reconsider the proposed merger.
Similarly, Mr Chino Obiagwu, the National Coordinator, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), a non-governmental organisation, said the government should retain both agencies. Obiagwu told NAN that the merger was unnecessary because the EFCC and ICPC have been playing a complementary roles in the fight against corruption. He said, “They have been complementing themselves over the years and this has brought a healthy competition between both agencies in the anti-corruption campaign.”
The merger of the two anti-corruption agencies was recommended to the Federal Government by the Presidential Committee on Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies.