Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was established in 2004 ( The EFCC (Establishment Act), 2004 ). Despite the wish of some, the organisation was not an original Nigerian invention; instead, it was pushed on the country's political leaders by the international financial institutions, donor agencies and Western governments, “which saw Nigerian laws as grossly inadequate in dealing with financial crime” ( Owolabi, 2007 ). It is also fair to say, in addition, that they were anxious to recast their relationships with Africa in a new light1. The then Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, appointed a relatively inexperienced young officer from the Nigerian police force, Nuhu Ribadu, to be its first head. The Nigerian political establishment could have weathered the storm of any homegrown pressure for such an institution, but it could be argued that since it relied so heavily on financial patronage from the West in terms of loans, aid and foreign investment, it felt compelled to establish such a body. Consequently, the Obasanjo regime that set it up did so more out of expediency than conviction ( Oke, 2012a, b ), and this fact helps put some of the difficulties the organization has encountered in prosecuting financial crime involving PEPs into perspective.
According to the organisation's spokesperson its “mandate begins with prevention, investigation, arrest and ends with charging accused persons to court” ( Babafemi, 2011 ). In its fight against money laundering involving PEPs, the EFCC's struggle to maintain equilibrium between legal certainty and exigency of policy rests upon two fundamental, and at times sharply contradictory, objectives. First, considering the legal position:
The burden of proof in a suit or proceeding, lies on that person who would fail if no evidence at all were given on either side […] If the commission of a crime by a party to any proceeding is directly in issue in any proceeding civil or criminal, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt ( LexisNexis, 2011 )2.
Second, the general policy direction of the organisation states amongst others:
The EFCC will curb the menace of the corruption that constitutes the cog in the wheel of progress; protect national and foreign investments in the country; imbue the spirit of hard work in the citizenry and discourage ill-gotten wealth; identify illegally acquired wealth and confiscate it; build an upright workforce in both public and private sectors of the economy and; contribute to the global war against financial crimes ( EFCC, 2012 ).
It is clear from the latter that the EFCC is a result-oriented organisation, whose existence needs to be justified against measurable yardsticks. In the same breadth, it is a publically accountable organisation, whose activity is necessarily circumscribed by the due process of law. To succeed, the EFCC needs to have the benefit of a functioning administrative and judicial system devoid of corruption and undue influence. The country's law makers, on their part, need to eschew party loyalty and personal interests in order to ensure that the organisation brings to fruition the task legally assigned to it. This situation is made all the more cumbersome by the fact that many of the law makers are themselves the PEPs involved in the illegal activity which the EFCC is determined to eradicate3. The extent to which the organisation has managed to untie this interwoven layers of desire to emphasis the establishment of effective legal policy while simultaneously promoting the achievement of immediate results, remains open to debate. However, an examination of some of their attempts can help to illuminate the problems faced.
The first case to be considered is that of the former Delta State Governor, James Ononefe Ibori, who pleaded guilty in February 2012, at Southwark Crown Court, to ten counts of conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crimes from the state, and was sentenced to 13 years in jail4. The honourable justice Anthony Pitts describing the amount of money involved, suggested that it could be in excesses of £200 million and commented that “the confiscation proceedings may shed some further light on the enormity of the sums involved” ( Tran, 2012 ). In a swift reaction to the sentence the UK International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchel said, “James Ibori's sentence sends a strong and important message to those who seek to use Britain as a refuge for their crime” ( Tran, 2012 ). In press coverage in the UK media sources were universal in their condemnation of the former governor producing numerous eye-catching headlines such as: “Former Wickes cashier James Ibori stole £50 million to ‘live like royalty’ after winning election in Nigeria – court told” (
Ibori had come to live in the UK in the 1980s, and worked as a cashier at a Wickes DIY store in Ruislip, North West London. He was convicted of stealing from the store in 1991, but later returned to Nigeria to enter into politics. On arriving in Nigeria, he changed his date of birth to hide his criminal conviction, the fact of which would have been an impediment to his ambition to become governor. Finding accommodation in the ruling party, the People's Democratic Party (PDP), he soon achieved his goal of winning a disputed election as governor in 1999, securing two terms in office (
It is difficult to answer either of the above questions with precision. There is, however, a general perception of judicial corruption with “impunity” (
Although the constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, the judicial branch remains susceptible to pressure from the executive and legislative branches and the business sector […] political leaders influenced the judiciary, particularly at the state and local level […] official corruption and lack of will to implement court decisions also interfered...