Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mr. Ekpo Nta, has cautioned against proposed merger of the commission and its sister agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He said it would be counter productive if the merger is carried out as being suggested in some quarters, noting that the fight against corruption might not get the required mileage if the ICPC and the EFCC were merged.
He said such move would not help the anti-corruption stance of the present administration and would also demoralize the personnel working in the agencies.
Nta speaking in an interview in Abuja stressed that the merger of the two agencies being canvassed was ill advised and would merely impair the two investigative agencies from effectively discharging their distinctly specialized mandates.
Nta averred that the two watchdogs were even more needed for their surveillance and deterrent roles, adding, “It is advisable that the anti-graft agencies be left mutually exclusive alone to operate to preserve their credibility”.
He said, “Well, the first thing people normally think is that when there is shortfall in the funding mechanism of something in the country, we should begin to rationalize.
“You can rationalize those processes that are taking money away that you cannot explain. I would rather invest in processes that would protect the little money that I have for me to be able to do more things.
“And the best way of investing is to protect the money and made it available by having anti-corruption bodies that are specialized in the approach of doing what they need to do.
“It is the same thing that has been happening all over the world for those countries that have successfully addressed the issue of corruption. They have specialized agencies addressing the issues… If monopoly were meant to make things better, then there was absolutely no need to have unbundled PHCN.
“I think the way our anti-corruption agencies are situated; it is easier to understand our mandates. If the mandates were not clear, I would have been one of those supporting it (merger); not because I am working here. I am not a permanent staff, but I speak candidly as a Nigerian, as somebody who has worked in the public service. I know the effect of what we stand to lose by letting these agencies fuse.
“Under the International Treaty that brought them into play and the specialization that they have derived and the mandate that they are executing, it’s not the best way to go. As a matter of fact, even, we need one or two more in specialized areas…
South Africa has eight anti-corruption agencies! And they don’t have the kind of population that we have. And you look at all other parts of the world that are succeeding, they have quite a number.
“I have always had this impression that specialization is the answer. Whether we like it or not, the world is becoming more specialized. If we begin to create omnibus bodies, we will probably run into problems”.
“Apart from this, the ICPC boss observed that the independence of the agencies may suffer credibility crisis if fused into one as opponents could easily accuse government of using it for persecution”.
Ekpo Nta added, “And you know that Nigerians are fast to accuse anti-corruption agencies of being used by government against political enemies. Is it easier to use one or three or four? Can you influence all, or when you have a monopoly? That is an invitation to crisis”.
Nta said incessant calls for the merger could also demoralize the personnel working in the two agencies, with the constant impression given that they had no job security or welfare to look forward to, despite putting their lives on the line.
The ICPC chairman who listed several needs of the commission to include adequate funding, upgrading of infrastructural facilities and improvement of staff welfare, said from the proclamations of President Muhammadu Buhari, the commission was set to receive greater governmental support to deliver on its mandate.