Advertisement

Musings on Olukoyede’s handling of EFCC’s rogue operatives

BY ABDULMUMUNI USMAN

Too bad, some elements among operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are casting dark shadows on the remodelling and reshaping of the commission by its executive chairman, Ola Olukoyede. There is no better way to describe the rascally attack unleashed on the female staff of the Lagos Regional Hotel other than sheer brutality and savagery. The consolation, however, is that the real EFCC operative is not trained that way.

As a sophisticated law enforcement agency, a large percentage of officers of the EFCC are university graduates. Many of them even hold higher degrees. This high-profile workforce is believed to be schooled enough to operate with a high level of professional comportment. Besides, the prompt response of Olukoyede has assured the whole world that those two rogue operatives do not have the backing of the leadership of the commission. It also reinforces the fact that the workforce of the commission is not a pack of wolves and ravening lions.

Come to think of it. The same EFCC Olukoyede and his team are rebuilding cannot fit into the bestiality of the two rogue officers. Since the assumption of duties almost nine months ago, the anti-graft czar has shown immense commitment to breaking the mould of the fierceness of arrest and bail of suspects by the commission. To this end, he rolled out revised and progressive procedures to lend professionalism and global best practices to the works of the EFCC. He came out to denounce any form of raid in making any arrest of suspected fraudsters. His justification of the new arrest and bail procedures pertains to the need for civility and decency in dealing with the public. I can still recall that he said: “We will fight corruption with the voice of a lion but with the heart of a lamb!” So, it is disappointing that such officers could forget so soon the clarion of their boss.

Advertisement

What the arrest, detention and trial of the two rogue officers of the EFCC show is that Olukoyede is serious about ending the worrisome culture of break and bust for which past leadership of the commission is known. The nation cannot forget so soon his open declaration of respect for the rule of law. He has been demonstrating this in several operational appearances of the commission. It is this tendency that made the former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, escape arrest. The EFCC Chairman could have ordered his operatives to tangle with the security goons of the Kogi governor who came to ferret Bello away. Rather, he withdrew them to avoid a breakdown of law and order, even with a warrant of arrest authorising the arrest of the former governor. A chief executive who did this could not have sent those rogue officers on the infamous operation they carried out last week. Every objective analysis of the activities of Olukoyede would indicate that he is not a Gestapo kind of person. The officer who assaulted the hotel staff acted out of character. The prevailing environment in today’s EFCC is not supportive of terror.

So, what are the issues around Olukoyede’s firm handling of the two rogue operatives? First and most fundamental is the issue of sensitivity to public outcry. His prompt directive that the officers be arrested and detained showed that he is sensitive to the angst of the people and calls for justice. Rather than hide under the guise of accidental operation or getting the suspect to submit to arrest, the EFCC’s boss was sincere and sensitive enough to wield the big stick against his staff. This leaves me wondering why anyone could be calling for his resignation. Do people resign from their jobs for doing the right thing? Do they resign for responding to public outrage? Do people resign for being sincere in admitting that some errors need to be corrected? I think Olukoyede deserves credit for responding assertively and responsibly to the situation. Our criticisms of the way the rogue officers behaved should not becloud our sense of objectivity. If every leader in Nigeria was like Olukoyede, our problems would not have been so massive.

The second issue is the consistency of the EFCC’s boss in pursuing his agenda of reform of the commission. Internally and externally, the EFCC is changing. Staff of the commission would tell you that there is now a defined level-playing field in the EFCC. Olukoyede is quietly breaking barricades and stereotypes. This is a huge reform which the rogue officers seemed not to appreciate. It is confusing to hear that some youth-based groups are clamouring for the reform of the EFCC. What reform are they talking about? Are they saying the commission should jettison its mandate? Or allow internet fraudsters to continue their shady businesses or keep quiet when corruption is building towers around the country? Admittedly, some bad eggs in the commission need to be shown the way out. If dealing with misfits and bad eggs in EFCC is what the groups are seeking, I agree with them but we should be careful not to kill the Eagle which the EFCC is. The commission has many detractors owing to its mandate. We should not allow that nursing bitterness against the EFCC to railroad the rest of us into uncharitable engagements.

Advertisement

Another issue around the handling of the rouge operatives is that punishment or sanctions against them should be made public. This is important to assure Nigerians that the officers were not only arrested to pacify the public but to pay for their misdeeds. This will engender public appreciation of the works of the commission and also make operatives in the same behavioural pattern as the arrested officers re-think. Chinua Achebe said that “ a slave that sees another slave being put into the grave should know that he will go the same way when his own time comes”. Other operatives have so much to learn from their embattled colleagues. This lesson is good for them as it is good for the entire nation.

Lastly, Olukoyede should not allow the rising tide against the commission to disturb or distract him. There is so much work to be done. Corruption must not destroy Nigeria. We should all join hands together to support the EFCC in its crusade against corrupt practices. We should equally interrogate any protest being planned by any group and not allow ourselves to be drawn into a personal vendetta against the commission. The task of fighting economic and financial crimes is complex. Where there are valid bases to criticise the EFCC, let’s do it with all our strength, bearing in mind that Nigeria as it is today, cannot do without the EFCC. We can certainly make the commission better. This we should pursue with all utmost altruism and sincerity.


Usman contributed this piece from Yola, Adamawa state.

Advertisement


Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.
Add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected from copying.