Anti-corruption agencies as debt recovery agents: the unintended consequences of anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria

Publication Type: Working Paper

Country: Nigeria

Authors: Emilia Onyema Simeon Obidairo Seye Ayinla Habeeb Oredola Pallavi Roy

Anti-corruption agencies as debt recovery agents: the unintended consequences of anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was established in 2002 by an Act of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the coordinating anti-corruption agency in Nigeria. The statutory powers, coordinative functions and the jurisdiction of the EFCC were discussed in Onyema et al. (2018), in which the authors argued that the effectiveness of the EFCC to discharge its mandate had been called into question locally and internationally over the past decade. This is largely due to the perception by the Nigerian public that the EFCC is a tool of the incumbent government to pursue political goals or a means of settling political scores with opponents.

An emerging concern about the effective functioning of the EFCC is that it now serves as a ‘debt collection agency’ at the disposal of commercial banks, high net-worth individuals and even the government. This research examines the extent to which this allegation may be true and considers the reasons why these private actors utilise the EFCC for the recovery of contractual debts instead of relying on the courts and other dispute resolution mechanisms. The deeper question examined in this paper is whether these private actors have now captured and use the EFCC for their own purposes.

In analyzing these questions we interrogate the role of the private sector in the entrenchment of political corruption in Nigeria, using relevant legal judgments and interviews with Nigerian lawyers and their clients as supporting evidence.

Read the Working Paper.