Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukayode, on Monday, said the commission was currently undergoing total overhaul, stressing that it must change its approach.
Olukayode spoke at a meeting with civil society organisations at the headquarters of the agency in Jabi, Abuja.
The EFCC boss said he was determined to change style in the anti-graft war. He said it was about time the commission started to obey laws and stopped the stigmatisation of persons and companies under investigation.
He acknowledged that he could be on the other side of the law tomorrow, if he failed to do the right things.
Olukayode declared that it would no longer be business as usual, as his administration would embark on a major policy review aimed at deploying the instrumentality of anti-corruption to stimulate economic development.
The EFCC chairman cited the case of the oil exploration firm, Halliburton, where the United States made $3 billion while Nigerian benefited nothing in economic terms. He affirmed that his new focus would entail generating employment by way of discontinuing the policy of freezing bank accounts of companies under investigation, which often led to collapse of such organisations and mass sack of employees.
He said over N1 trillion was lost to the closure of such companies whose accounts were frozen for as long as 15 years while judgement was awaited.
The EFCC chairman said the anti-graft agency was undergoing a total overhauling, saying there would be no more marking of property under investigation, which he said stigmatised such property.
Olukayode said the agency under his watch would obey the rule of law and relevant constitutional provisions setting it up.
He stated, “The whole focus will be using the instrumentality of anti-corruption to stimulate economic development. If all my convicting people does not contribute to economic development, how does it add value to the system?
“United States government generated N3 billion. Nigeria did not benefit anything during Halliburton investigation, Nigeria did not.”
He reiterated that the agency would use the instrumentality of anti-corruption as an instrument to generate employment.
According to him, “Closing company accounts while investigation is ongoing” would no longer apply, as “some accounts are closed for 15 years where over N1 trillion was lost.
“Such companies are shut and when such companies are shut, they cannot access funds and they sack employees and the company goes down. Such companies will be allowed to operate. We are changing that completely.”
The EFCC boss also warned that companies set up to destroy the economy would be shut.
On the marking of property, Olukayode maintained that the agency had initiated a new strategy.
He stated, “Henceforth, marking properties will be changed in a way that is not noticeable in order not to stigmatise such properties.”
Olukayode added that EFCC would embark on comprehensive policy review to ascertain “what have we done wrong or right after which we submit to government”.
He said his administration was keen on repositioning the agency and changing the disposition of staff.
“We must be a foremost agency and sophisticated in the way we do our things,” he said.
The EFCC chairman disclosed that the agency had revised guidelines for arrest and detention in accordance with the constitution.
He said, “If the law says release a suspect within 24 hours without trial, we release them.
We must operate within the dictates of the rule of law, because as I am here today, I can be on the other side tomorrow. I can arrest, obey the law, release you but the same law says we can re-arrest you.”
On how his predecessors fared, Olukayode said, “People who do well will do well. Those who do wrong things end up wrongly.
Somebody who finished from here was honoured as a SAN. If we agree that the right thing must be done, we don’t need foreigners to help us. I pledge to God that put me here and the whole country that I will serve the nation diligently.”
The EFCC chair commended civil society organisations for their commitment to the anti-graft war, noting that 80 per cent of petitions at the agency come from CSOs.
“Eighty per cent of our petitions came from civil society groups. It means we have a virile civil society sector. Let’s be focused, we will see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.