The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 made a defence of its N22, 070,514,431.00, (Twenty Two Billion, Seventy Million, Five Hundred and Fourteen Thousand, Four Hundred and Thirty One Naira) 2019 budget proposal before the Senate Committee on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes.
The figure represents a 16.38% decrease from the 2018 budget of N26, 392,396,279.00, (Twenty Six Billion, Three Hundred and Ninety Two Million, Three Hundred and Ninety Six Thousand, Two Hundred and Seventy Nine Naira).
The 2019 fiscal year, sees a 14% increase in the Personnel Cost proposal from 12.717 billion in 2018 to 14.491billion in 2019. The increase according to the Acting Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Magu, “accommodates the salaries and allowances of 970 additional staff approved for recruitment, who are expected to be fully enrolled on the personnel cost platform in 2019.” This, he further reveals, “comprises 332 Assistant Detective Superintendents, 293 Assistant Detective Inspectors currently undergoing training at NDA Kaduna and 95 support staff that recently joined the services of the Commission.”
The Commission he said “has also made proposal for an upward review of salaries and allowances of its staff to Salaries, Income and Wages Commission. This has been forwarded to the Presidency and, if approved, will be covered by Supplementary Appropriation.”
The Commission’s overhead cost which the Budget Office reduced from N7.3billion to N3.6billion was considered grossly inadequate by the Commission in view of the running cost of three new zonal offices, proposed group staff life insurance of N650m, huge outlays on generator fuel cost, increase in airfares, proposed 60% increase in the rates of duty tour allowance (DTA) payable to staff on official assignment.
Same for capital expenditure proposal, which was drastically reduced from N15.196billion to N3.978billion, represents a 74.82% reduction from the approved estimate of N10.07billion in 2018.
Magu considers the capital budget approval inadequate in view of the Commission’s N2.02billion outstanding liabilities to Julius Berger, N1.5billion cost runs on its new head office complex, N0.299billion liabilities for consultancy on new head office, N0.47billion for purchase of security equipment (ammunition), N1.1billion, on furnishing of new head office building, development of the permanent site of the EFCC Academy, Lafia; renovation of the old EFCC head office building, Wuse 2, Abuja, and the renovation of the Lagos Zonal Offices (10 Okotie Eboh and 15 Awolowo Road.
Though N14.571billion, (Fourteen Billion, Five Hundred and Seventy One Million), which is a little over half of the 2018 budget approval was released to the Commission, Magu enumerated the highpoints of his Commission’s last year budget performance to include: increase in the personnel cost of the Commission from N7.6billion in 2017 to N8.5 billion, which were the consequences of the full enrolment of 314 Assistant Detective Superintendents and same for 183 Assistant Detective Inspectors following the completion of their training programme in May and January 2018, respectively; completion of the Commission’s Jabi District, new head office complex and relocation; the establishment of three new zonal offices in Makurdi, Sokoto and Ilorin.
Others are the hosting of Heads of Anti-corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa (HACA) in Abuja in May, last year; anti-corruption concerts hosted in Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Enugu as well as the first ever anti-corruption marathon that featured hundreds of marathoners from across the country, civil society organizations, and sports celebrities; acquisition of hectares of land in Nasarawa State for the construction of the permanent site of the EFCC Academy, of which development is expected to commence this year. Also, is the furnishing of the Commission’s Forensic Laboratory, located in the Commission’s Head Office Complex with state-of-the-art equipment.
Magu disclosed that in the course of the 2018 financial year, the EFCC obtained 315 convictions, and has within the first three months of this year, obtained 160 convictions.
In the area of recoveries, N11.5billion was recorded in final forfeiture, N133.8billion in non forfeiture recoveries, N8.92billion in direct deposits, N38.12billion in tax recoveries, N1.82billion in Subsidy Recoveries, and N42billion from Banks (Third Party), totalling N236billion.
These according to Magu “are in addition to recoveries of various sums in other currencies, other assets, jewelries (gold) and recoveries for major government agencies including NNPC and AMCON.
In the first quarter the 2019 Financial Year, the Commission according to Magu, made recoveries which included: N140.7million in cash, N2.021billion in direct deposits, N7.20billion in tax recoveries, N3.06billion in subsidy recoveries and -$0.292billion.
Magu lamented that incomplete releases of both approved overhead and capital estimates, have in no small measure, negatively impacted the ability of the Commission to meet its pressing needs and obligations.
The EFCC chairman also decried that only 54.17% was released in 2018 while 40.06% of capital has been released so far with only two and half months to go to the end of extended 2018 capital budget year.
According to him, the Commission is challenged in the following areas: huge maintenance cost of new head office building, inadequate resources to manage a huge and growing fixed asset forfeiture base, inadequate ICT infrastructure.
Magu noted that “there is presently the complete absence of internet services at the New Head Office and zonal offices, including other related ICT service deliveries. The Commission requires a minimum of N800m to upgrade its present state of ICT infrastructure.” Others challenges according to him are: poor detention facilities particularly in the zones, inadequate office equipment e.g. absence of health and fitness facilities in the head office and zones and equipments for clinics; inadequate office accommodation in the zones.
The Commission’s zonal offices in Ilorin, Makurdi, Uyo and Benin, according to him are rented. There is also the pressing challenge of inadequate operational vehicles in the head office and across the zonal offices, and lack of office furniture in the new head office building and across the zonal offices.
In his response, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Chukwukwa Godfrey Utazi who led other committee members, Senator Mohammed Sabo and Senator Matthew A. Urhoghide described the 2018 budget performance of the Commission as “a huge success.”
In his words, “the committee will support every incentive of the anti-graft agency in terms of insurance cover, housing scheme, upward review of salaries for staff and that a certain percentage of funds recovered should be allocated to staff for better welfare. It is sacrosanct to ensure the insurance cover for such a multi-million naira edifice as the EFCC Headquarters in view of the fire incident that happened in the EFCC, Wuse 2, Abuja office last year.”