Where is the ICPC now that the fight against corruption is in full swing?

In 2015, and now 2016, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria, has dominated the public conversation around corruption through key cases against members of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. In particular, the $2.1 billion arms deal fraud has implicated several prominent public officials, media houses and religious leaders in the country. However, while the EFCC continues to make headway in these cases, it seems as though the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) is missing in action.

In 1999, former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, founded the ICPC in a bid to fight against corruption. The organisation’s major objective was to receive and investigate reports of corruption and punish offenders. However, with more cases of money laundering and advanced fee fraud than the government could handle, the EFCC was set up in 2003. This body was given the mandate to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.

Under the leadership of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the EFCC stole the spotlight in the fight against corruption and continued to unearth critical fraudulent activities until 2011, after the dismissal of Farida Waziri. However, while the EFCC is becoming more popular in Buhari’s administration, the ICPC seems to be left in the shadow, remaining insignificant.

In addition, there is no clear distinction between these two agencies, which are both similar. Political analysts have also argued, that the two agencies should merge. However, the EFCC and ICPC continue to exist as two separate bodies.

Considering the magnitude of the controversial $2.1 billion arms deal and other corruption allegations, maybe it’s time for the Federal Government to reconsider the role of the ICPC. They can choose to either empower the body or merge it with the EFCC.

Enabling the ICPC to investigate corrupt individuals without waiting on a petition will go a long way to enhance the effectiveness of the fight against corruption. Again, it may also be time for the government to merge the EFCC and ICPC. Merging the two bodies might help the government reduce the cost of running the two agencies and redirect manpower in the fight against corruption.

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