In a proactive move towards operational efficiency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) launched its Strategic Plan 2021-2025 on Wednesday in Abuja, with the European Union (EU), United Kingdom (UK), and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hailing the plan and pledging their support.
Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Dr. Oliver Stolpe, said the plan had set out clear and established targets for the commission.
Stolpe, however, warned that the document “will be used to hold EFCC to account.”
EFCC’s international partners joined Executive Chairman of the commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to unveil the strategic plan targeted at improving its performance.
The document, titled, “Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Strategic Plan 2021-2025,” was unveiled at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja.
The EU, UK, the National Assembly, and FBI hailed the document as pointer to a better future for Nigeria.
Bawa said the plan was occasioned by the fact that economic and financial crimes remained a major impediment to the sustainable growth and development of the country.
He stated, “It is in recognition of the devastating effects of these crimes and the (fact that) failure to address the menace will continue to hinder our development efforts as a sovereign nation, that the Federal Government of Nigeria established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2002.
“Since its establishment, the commission has grown rapidly in capacity and capability as well as recorded significant milestones in the fight against economic and financial crimes.”
Bawa recalled that in 2013, the commission developed its first five-year strategic plan (2013-2018), with five strategic goals to guide the attainment of the EFCC mandate within the stated period. He said annual action plans were developed for the effective implementation of the strategy.
“Upon the expiration of the plan in 2018, the commission embarked on a comprehensive review to identify successes and outstanding commitments unattained with corresponding challenges,” he stated.
Bawa added, “The review targeted to map out new strategies to improve performance and, thus, led to the development of the New EFCC Strategic Plan (2021 – 2025).
“The EFCC Strategic Plan 2021 – 2025 has been designed consistent with the pillars of National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) 2017 – 2021, which is anchored on five pillars, namely, prevention, public engagement, ethical re-orientation, enforcement and sanctions, recovery and management of proceeds of crime.”
He said each of the pillars had a corresponding technical objective and activity designed to achieve the objective.
The EFCC boss said the new strategic plan aimed to sustain the agency’s commitment to continuous improvement on the attainment of its vision.
He listed the five strategic objectives of the plan to include increasing public engagement in the fight against economic and financial crimes; improving systems and processes for the prevention of economic and financial crimes; improving intelligence-driven investigation, prosecution, and asset recovery.
Others are improving law enforcement coordination and collaboration with relevant stakeholders, and enhancement of institutional capacity and human capital.
Bawa elaborated further on the objectives of the plan, stating, “The commission recognises the importance of partnership with the public in achieving its mandate. This is demonstrated in our commitment to continuous improvement and strengthening cooperation with all stakeholders consistent with objective four of the strategic plan.
“The new strategic plan prioritises prevention as a cheaper and more efficient tool against economic and financial crimes than enforcement. The plan also places significant premium on intelligence-driven investigation, prosecution and asset recovery while upholding high ethical standards in the discharge of our mandate.
“The EFCC core values were also reviewed to reflect our commitment to integrity, courage, professionalism and collaboration as we deliver our mandate.”
In his goodwill message, the Country Representative of UNODC commended EFCC for the work done so far.
The representative of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and West Africa, Mr. Clement Boutiller, identified corruption as a major challenge confronting Nigeria. Boutiller said the EU contributed €88 million in support of the anti-graft war and expressed EU’s support for the implementation of the plan.
Representative of the UK High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Clowes, said the plan, “makes it possible for a better future” for Nigeria.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Suleman Kwari, said the strategic plan would boost the fight against financial crimes. Kwari disclosed that the bill on forfeiture of assets had undergone second reading in the National Assembly, stressing that it would enhance the agency’s management of recovered assets.
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes, who was represented by Hon Francis Uduyok, said the parliament was in support of the plan.
FBI’s Legal Attaché, Mr Uche Ahamdi, said FBI had a strong partnership with EFCC. Ahamdi commended the agency for producing the strategic plan, which he said would measure its performance.
He said, “It’s important. If you can’t measure, you can’t manage it.”
National Coordinator, Anti-corruption and Rule of Law, Mr. Danladi Plang, described the plan as a “strategic message to the staff that they are doing well and need to redouble efforts.”
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja