A former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi, has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to enforce anti-corruption laws in Nigeria.
Mr. Agabi, a senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, who was a special guest at the commission’s maiden awards ceremony held at the EFCC Academy, Karu, Abuja, noted that nation building requires the cooperation of all including the anti-graft body.
“Our country is ours to build, and you are in the remarkable position, having been appointed to investigate and prosecute all those who undermine that work through corruption,” said Mr. Agabi.
“Our laws are not self-enforcing, they require good men and women to enforce them, and you of the EFCC are the good men and women that the nation has appointed to see to the enforcement of our laws.”
Mr. Agabi, under whose tenure as AGF the commission was established in 2003, expressed delight that though the commission faced some problems at its inception, it has grown to become an institution of repute.
In his opening remark, the commission’s chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, said the EFCC is 11 years in the making.
Right from its inception, he said the commission took a conscious decision to be different; thereby challenging its staff to chart a new path in law enforcement in Nigeria.
“Consequently, we have set a very high standard for our staff, not only at the point of entry, but also in the discharge of their duties and for them to continue to stay employed with the Commission,” Mr. Lamorde said. “The EFCC that only a few were willing to give a fleeting chance of succeeding eleven years ago, is today an institution of reckoning in law enforcement, with operations, partnerships and influence stretching across and beyond the African continent.”
According to Mr. Lamorde, the ceremony was arranged to thank current and former staff, friends and stakeholders who have distinguished themselves in various ways in the work of the commission.
“We are also here to remind ourselves that as far as the EFCC is concerned, anything less than excellent is unacceptable,” Mr. Lamorde said.
A former chairman of the commission, Nuhu Ribadu, who was returning to the EFCC for the first time after his exit, was also one of the awardees.
Mr. Ribadu said there was no institution in Nigeria that had given hope and still gave hope to Nigerians like the EFCC.
“We believe we have clean hands and therefore, we can clean the dirty faces of Nigerians,” Mr. Ribadu said.
Describing the event as a joyous moment, Mr. Ribadu admonished staff of the commission to be steadfast in the fight against corruption.
“The EFCC remains my family, and no matter how long, your good efforts will be rewarded, don’t worry, continue to do your job no matter the circumstances, and you will surely be rewarded,” he said.
He also used the opportunity to appreciate former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Femi Falana, Aliyu Gusau, and late Gani Fawehinmi, for believing in the vision of the EFCC.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Abdullahi Yola, described the commission as an institution relevant in reshaping the image of Nigeria among the comity of nations.
“The EFCC has undoubtedly proven to be a capable instrument in achieving good governance in Nigeria,” said Mr. Yola.
The pioneer Secretary of the commission, Emmanuel Akomaye, said the EFCC has demystified the concept of the “big man” in the country.
According to him, the commission either took justice to the corrupt or brought the corrupt to justice and admonished the staff not be frustrated in the face of attacks they get from corrupts persons in the country.
No fewer than 306 staff were honoured at the ceremony for serving the commission meritoriously in various capacities.
While 87 of the awardees were pioneer staff, 161 others were celebrated for serving the commission during the past 10 years.
Other categories of awards included Commendable Achievements which was awarded to 34 staff, Outstanding staff award which went to 10 staff, Noteworthiness Award which was given to five staff, Award for Meritorious Service; Ex-staff Category which was given to seven former officers and Award for Outstanding Performance, Ex-staff Category which was given to two former staff.
The Lagos Zonal office received commendation for being a model and distinguishing itself by securing the most number of arrests and successful prosecutions in court.