The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was set up in April 2003 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. It was set up essentially to fight corruption and raise the image of the country in the international community. Reports say prior to the establishment of the EFCC, Nigeria was named among 23 countries which were not cooperating with the western world in the fight against money laundering.
To rescue Nigeria’s image Obasanjo had to set up the commission to combat economic and financial crimes in the country. Prior to its setting up, Nigeria’s image suffered in the international community as one of the fraudulent countries in the world. Arising from his determination to change the trend and redeem the image of the country, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo set up the commission to combat the corrupt tendencies of Nigerians.
Following its establishment, Obasanjo appointed Nuhu Ribadu, an assistant commissioner of police then, as the agency’s first executive chairman. Ribadu, a young and dynamic officer, fought economic criminals in Nigeria to a standstill. He brought many down who were heavily corrupt in Nigeria. The commission was a major defender of Nigeria from grafts, money laundering and other criminal activities inherent in the bloodstream of dubious Nigerians. Then, the fear of EFCC was the beginning of wisdom for economic thieves in the country.
Former governors, army generals, police inspectors general, directors general of government agencies and others were heavily afraid of the EFCC. Many were hailed to prison and many thieving careers were lost to the EFCC. Properties illegally acquired in millions and billions were forfeited to the federal government through the commission. Governors were jailed and even still being jailed. Billions were recovered from economic thieves who will still use legal practitioners to defend their obvious theft of Nigeria’s money.
Many governors who milked their states and stole the state funds were quizzed and jailed. Some individuals were made to refund all the money stolen. After the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, many members who served in his government suffered in the hands of the operatives of the commission. Both the DSS and the EFCC held them to the jugular until they vomited the money they stole and some squandered.
Actually, going down memory lane, the commission has fought economic criminals in the country. Many politicians who stole huge amount of money have returned them to the federal government. Internet fraud has been fought also by the commission. Cases of many for many years are still being treated by the commission. The first executive chairman of the agency, Ribadu, was the best of them. His name was a household name in Nigeria in terms of war against economic criminals. So powerful did the EFCC and Ribadu become that he ended up shaping the political landscape of the country. Under his watch, so many political dreams were shelved, others were permanently grounded.
But one trend has always followed all the four chairmen who have led the commission for the past 18 years of its existence. From Ribadu to Farida Waziri to Ibrahim Lamorde and now Ibrahim Magu, it was all records of starting well and ending with terrible criminal records and most times they are pushed out of the commission very unceremoniously. They were always celebrated at the point of entry with pomp and pageantry but many do not serve their tenure before they are either fired, pushed out or arrested just as the case of Ibrahim Magu. Ibrahim Magu dealt with many Nigerians, especially people of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP). And for fear of prosecution, some former governors had to defect to the ruling APC to get shelter under President Muhammadu Buhari.
But what could be the reason for their starting well and ending badly? Maybe the money they are seeing is so much for them to handle. They deal with millions and billion and the urge to divert them overtakes their inner being. That may not be far from the underlying reason behind their ending with bad records. Now Ibrahim Magu is facing the battle squarely. If someone had told him that he would suffer like this, he wouldn’t have accepted it. But now it is staring at him in the face.