Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Chukkol, Setting New Records For Dynamic EFCC, By Gerald Nlebem

Abdulkarim Chukkol Acting EFCC Chair

With its strategic place in the annals of Nigeria, any tumult or even gentle wave in the workings of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is expected to leave a crack in its wall. But this is turning out to be a mere conjecture, especially with the dynamic handling of the Commission by its Acting Chairman, Abdulkarim Chukkol, following the suspension of its former Chairman, AbdulRasheed Bawa. It is instructive to note that Chukkol is leaving no one in doubt that a wound may leave no scar afterall, if properly and professionally treated!

At the various Commands of the EFCC, fresh leaves are sprouting from its towering tree. Operational and administrative activities are revving up admirably. A combination of unmistakable competence and the leadership strength of the Acting Chairman are at work, in the little and great engagements in the EFCC, and this is really commendable, considering the diversity and enormity of cases being handled by the Commission. .

One bold hint of the signature of Chukkol is his zero tolerance for corruption. At the Graduation Ceremony of fresh cadets of the EFCC on 21 July, the anti-graft czar cautioned them against corrupt practices and questionable conducts. His words were: “The Commission has zero tolerance for corruption, indiscipline and unprofessional conducts. You have all been sworn to oaths of allegiance and secrecy, loyalty to the nation, to EFCC, as well as keep strict confidence any knowledge that may come your way in carrying out your duty. Every act of corruption, disloyalty, disobedience, insubordination would instantly be dealt with and the defaulters would be shown the exit door.”

For those who know the Acting EFCC Chairman Chukkol, his warnings against compromises and corruption by fresh officers of the EFCC, are not mere preachments. He meant every word he said. Even, older officers know that corruption cannot grow under Chukkol’s watch. This is so important, given growing public angst against unethical practices by law enforcement agents across the country. The EFCC, as the nation’s most effective anti-corruption agency, cannot afford to treat graft with kid gloves. For a leader who is walking his talk and giving no room for suspicion, tackling indiscipline and dark practices in the system cannot be an uphill task.

Available records at the EFCC show that right from his days at the Lagos Zonal Command, the soft-spoken Chukkol has never been enmeshed in any shady practice. That President Bola Tinubu gave him the reins of leadership at the Commission, only shows the implicit confidence he has in him and the unimpeachable dynamics of his works over the years. It won’t be suprising if he is allowed to continue in his strides and unobstrusive ways as the substansive head of the EFCC.

Has there been any radical paradigm shift since Chukkol assumed leadership of the EFCC? The answer is in the affirmative. The break and burst fever of the Bawa’s days seem to be over. The Commission never relents in closing in on internet fraudsters now. As a matter of fact, more arrests are being made periodically but without any public hysteria about marauder-like invasions of houses. It is strange to observe that the same operatives hounding and wounding suspected fraudsters have suddenly become urbane, professional and admirable, owing largely to a new-fangled approach initiated by Chukkol. The EFCC is doing its jobs with rising efficiency and professionalism. Chukkol’s leadership is simply telling us that an arrest needs not be an invasion. Greater impact is being made without giving the public a bloody nose.

Even, progress is rising in the area of convictions. Media reports in this area are becoming impressive. I think the EFCC should offer the public figures of the new advances in its prosecutorial efforts without further delay. As a keen watcher of developments in the EFCC, I find the systematic workings of the Commission under the watch of Chukkol, the quiet administrator, equable and promising. I have also noticed significant improvements in enlightenment campaigns of the works of the Commission in recent times. Nigerians are warming up to the changing dynamics in the fight against corruption and this may be the reason civil society organisations are dropping their grievances against the EFCC.

At this juncture, it is imperative to load the clouds of the Acting Chairman with some challenges he needs to address, in order to continue in his winning ways in the Commission. First, the restructuring of roles and responsibilities are vital. New brains and fresh insights should be deployed into key areas such as administration, procurement, public relations and information dissemination, recruitment, training and prosecution.

A Commission like the EFCC should be dynamic and creative in its workings. The public is getting tired of its stereotypes. Chukkol needs to give the public a new face of the EFCC. Second, the existing operational framework that achieves results without hurting the sensibilities of the public should be sustained. Chukkol is putting the right foot forward in this regard and should continue in that direction for positive development.

The public’s eyes are on the EFCC, regarding setting new examples in the equitable treatment of its workforce. It is important to note that Bawa’s regime reportedly formed personality cults within the system. This should not continue. Every staff of the Commission deserves fair treatments, irrespective of tribe, religion or other extraneous affliations. Reports showed that Chukkol is already righting many wrongs in the system. This is commendable. A foremost anti-graft agency like the EFCC deserves no less. Posterity is sure to applaud the Acting Chairman for the bold reforms he is already initiating. This is what is desirable for the nation and this is what Abdulkarim Chukkol is working on.

More important is the need for enhanced synergy with other law enforcement agencies. Corruption is an hydra-headed monster and its tackling should be broad-based. Chukkol needs to embrace collegiate overtures from other agencies and make them feel relevant. The EFCC, legally, is the coordinating agency for the enforecement of laws against several corrupt practices. It should reach out more to sister agencies for seamless operations to tackle corruption. Reports showed that the Acting Chairman is already embracing agencies disposed to working with the EFCC. This is commendable.

The onus is on the stakeholders and the nation to suppprt the Commission more in this regard. Chukkol is offering us good promises and the EFCC really looks good with him as a skilful driver.

Nlebem, a public affairs analyst, writes this piece from Etche in Rivers State.

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