Publication Type: Briefing Paper
Countries: Nigeria
Authors: Mitchell Watkins, Pallavi Roy
Publication date: November 2020
Keywords: Agencies

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)was established in 2003 as a central agency to drive Nigeria’s anti-corruption activities. Critical for a well-functioning economy, the EFCC has the authority to investigate and prosecute bribery, fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, smuggling, oil bunkering and a host of other financial crimes.

But the EFCC has achieved mixed success. On the one hand, it has been instrumental in prosecuting senior political leaders and businessmen involved in illegal activities, as well as in recovering significant stolen resources that belong to the Nigerian state. On the other hand, the Commission has been subject to frequent political interference and corruption (Onyema et al., 2018). One emerging concern about the EFCC is that it now serves as a ‘debt collection agency’ at the disposal of commercial banks, high net-worth individuals and politicians.

In Onyema et al. (2019), we provide evidence that private actors are utilising the EFCC for the recovery of contractual debts, instead of relying on the courts and other civil dispute resolution mechanisms. Based on our analysis of EFCC cases, we find that a majority are civil in nature and fall outside the Commission’s jurisdiction. Such involvement of the EFCC in civil matters suggests state capture by private actors.

This briefing paper summarises the findings of our research and recommendations to reduce state capture of the EFCC and restore public confidence in civil apparatus.