Nigeria Should Welcome State Corruption Laws
As the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) remains at the forefront of the fight against federal and state corruption, bribery, and other financial crimes in Nigeria, the newly established Anti-Corruption Commission for Lagos State is a welcome move. Every States should have its own watchdog covering its local jurisdiction; with the EFCC remaining the federal anti-corruption authority across all States and Local Governments.
Like the United States of America, whose Constitution we modeled after, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the principal anti-corruption federal law enforcement agency of the United States - exactly the same standing the Economic and Financial Crimes maintains as the federal anti-corruption law enforcement body that serves as a national watchdog with investigative powers across the nation.
It is responsible for investigating corruption violations of federal laws by public officials at the federal, States, and local levels of government. A role (although duplicative) that also involves the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Just like the FBI, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is mandated to oversee the nationwide investigation of allegations of fraud related to federal government procurements, contracts, and federally funded programs. The Nigerian government through the EFCC works together with international law enforcement partners to investigate Nigerian subjects anywhere who are complicit in paying bribes to foreign officials.
No State government has such power. Unlike State Governments, federal watchdogs like the EFCC mainly prosecute corruption offenders at the highest levels of the court systems like the federal courts. So, all States and local governments whether they have an anti-Corruption Commission or not, if it receives any type of federal money, the EFCC remains the principal anti-corruption body to assist the federal government in investigating and prosecuting public officials and agencies within any State and local government.
In its capacity as the federal financial crimes watchdog, unlike a State like Lagos or other States that have anti-corruption agency, the EFCC can investigate and prosecute individuals and firms engaged in bribery, contract extortion, bid rigging, illegal cash payments, kickback schemes, illegal gratuities, corporate schemes where federal money and interest are involved.
As such, the talk that State domestic anti-corruption laws are motivated to shield persons such as politicians, ex-politicians, State officials, ex-officials, influential individuals, and corporations involved in public corruption has no grounds.
Now that anti-corruption commissions are being set up in various States, these local anti-corruption-based agencies should on ethical grounds be in the position to help in coordinating and showing collaborative efforts in terms of provide information, assistance and other support to federal agencies investigating public corruption offenses in their States. Combating the threat of public corruption against our young democracy should never be seen as a form of competition between entities at the regional and federal level.
Prof. John Egbeazien Oshodi is an American based police/prison scientist and forensic psychologist.