Rights activists have backed the Senate’s initiative to review the laws establishing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission to investigate and prosecute without petitions.
The Senate is seeking to empower the anti-graft agencies to investigate individuals with unjustifiable wealth, without a petition from a third party.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Anti-Corruption, Mr. Victor Lar, had said, “It is no longer acceptable for the ICPC and EFCC to wait for petitions before carrying out an investigation against corrupt individuals.
“In other climes, the basis for investigating a corruption suspect is inexplicable wealth. We see a lot of government officials amassing so much wealth that cannot be tied to what they actually earn. Such people should be arrested and the onus would be on them to explain how they came about such wealth. That is the only way we can move forward.”
The activists however cautioned that the power would not be abused.
The Executive Director, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said such powers should also be vested in the Code of Conduct Bureau.
He said, “The EFCC already has the power to probe anyone who lives above his income. The agency, unfortunately, has not made use of it.
“The ICPC also has the power to create desks in all government offices and facilities to monitor their activities but it has not been efficiently utilised. Such powers should also be vested in the CCB and the Nigerian Police Force.”
Similarly, Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the EFCC had the power to probe independently but had failed to exercise it due to lack of political will.
He said, “It is a power the EFCC already has. The failure to use it lies with the leadership, which lacks the political will to fight corruption.”
In his view, the National Coordinator, Legal Defence and Assistance Project, Mr. Chino Obiagwu, said the amendment would make war against corruption easier.