The Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER) has faulted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC’s) recent request for powers to retain a percentage of money recovered by it.
This is contained in a statement signed by the group’s Executive Director, Mr Frank Tietie, in Abuja on Wednesday.
Tietie said that allowing anti-graft agencies in the country to directly benefit from recovered crime proceeds would “serve as a bad motivation for economic and financial law enforcement”.
He argued that the request if approved, would easily transform into an “irresistible temptation for law enforcement agents to engage in unbridled confiscation and forfeitures”.
The Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, had at a National Anti-corruption Conference in Abuja on Oct. 20, requested for such powers.
Magu had called for a review of relevant laws to enable the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies to retain a percentage of loots recovered to fund their operations.
He argued that in some jurisdictions like the UK, proceeds of crime were further used to strengthen the agency.
He added that the proposed review was in line with international best practices.
“In EFCC, we have been struggling for years to build our headquarters and when I think of the billions of naira we recover, I can see what would have happened if we are allowed to apply a percentage of this recovery into our operations,“he said.
Tietie argued that law enforcement agencies should be funded by budgetary allocations only.
“Creating an element of self-interest for law enforcement agents would be dangerous to citizens’ fundamental right to fairness of legal procedure and justice.
“The EFCC currently enjoys a lot of discretionary powers under Sections 27 to 34 of the EFCC Act.
“The sections empower the commission to seize any property or freeze any bank account whenever it reasonably considers it connected with a crime.
“To exercise such powers with a motivation that part of the forfeited or `recovered loot’ would be given to the EFCC offends the administrative rule against bias.
“It also raises serious human rights issues of unfair exercise of statutory powers against citizens,” he said.
He argued further that law enforcement agencies could not afford to be biased, and should not have an extraordinary motivation for the self-interest of law enforcement agents.
“It is a duty carried out wholly in the public interest according to laid down laws which comply with the Constitution,” he said.