Throughout history, corruption has been seen to undermine democratic institutions and hindering economic growth and government stability by perverting the rule of law. In a country like Nigeria just like any other place, this is especially true.
The ICPC which in full means The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission or rather the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission is a Nigerian agency that was established on the 29th September 2000. This was during the administration and upon recommendation of President Olusegun Obasanjo. From the time of independence, corruption had become a problem in Nigeria. Corruption sprang up at an alarming rate in the second republic. It caused the distortion and diversion of government welfare programmes and undermined the goals of development. During the years of military rule, corruption had been well established in almost every sector of the economy. By the time Olusegun Obasanjo came to power in 1999, the country had become deeply entrenched in economic privation and corrupt practices. Not only that, the general populace themselves have now been gradually lost ethics of uprightness, nationalism, and contentment. The effects of this being that investors lost confidence in the system, infrastructures turned dead, professionals trained with the country’s resources started moving abroad in search of greener pastures while the country suffered severe lack.
Before the democratic rule of President Olusegun Obasanjo, earlier administrations had earlier instituted legal measures to combat corruption. However, they were not successful in the implementation of policies and only worsened the situation. It was in a bid to save the country from economic collapse that the president declared a total war on corruption.
He sent a bill to the National Assembly to prohibit and prescribe punishment for corrupt practices. This bill was passed as the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 and was signed into law by the President on 13th June 2000.
Act 2000 is the enabling legal instrument of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The agency was founded with the task of receiving and investigating reports bordering on corruption and when necessary, the agency was enabled to prosecute offenders.
The agency was to also review and examine systems of public procedures so as to eliminate corruption in public offices and administration and to also enlighten and educate the public on corruption and related offences so as to foster a war against it from the masses.
The commission is governed by the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000.
Relationship between the ICPC and other agencies
Many have wondered what the difference is between the ICPC and the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission)
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was established in 2003 as a law enforcement agency to investigate financial crimes such as advance fee fraud (419 fraud), money laundering and other financial crimes. The EFCC is mandated to investigate all financial crimes, track the illegal accruing of wealth and especially such that attempt to integrate such wealth into the Nigerian financial system. The ICPC, however, is focused on corrupt practices in the public sector such as bribery, abuse or misuse of office for financial gains, gratification.
The EFCC is also empowered to search out individuals from any sector who live above their means and is even enabled to investigate crimes that happened before the commission’s establishment.
Although, over the years, there has been reported tension between both agencies as many complain of duplication of functions and especially an overlap in the EFCC Anti-corruption and Transparency Committee and the ICPC Anti-corruption and Transparency Monitoring Units
In June 2009, there was an attempt to review the Acts that set up the ICPC and the EFCC by the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, and Anti-Corruption. This was to guarantee autonomy and freedom of interference for both agencies from the executive arm of government. One of the proposals was to give the EFCC chair tenure of four years and a requirement of approval by the Senate for the removal of members of the commission. A merger of both agencies was also suggested. However, the Senate president expressed concerns over the agencies being free from checks and balances having too much power and without supervision. However, the EFCC chairman at the time, Farida Waziri noted it was important for anti-corruption agencies to be truly independent of politicians being investigated.
There is a global organization known as The Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (ACAMS). This organization comprises of professionals who investigate and prevent cases of money laundering and financing of terrorists. In 2009, ACAMS established a chapter of theirs in Lagos. This is expected to be a plus for the agency in anticipation of a fruitful partnership for an efficient fight against corruption and other financial crimes.
Other international bodies in partnership with ICPC are the African Union (AU) Convention Against Corruption, the United Nations Committee on Anti-Corruption (UNCAC)
Functions of the ICPC
The ICPC is mandated to prohibit, investigate and enforce the law against corrupt practices and other financial related offences. Section 6 (a-f) of the ICPC Act 2000 spells out the functions of the commission and paraphrased below:
- To receive, track and investigate reports of corrupt practices from members of the public and when necessary prosecute these offenders.
- After prompt examination of corrupt practices, the ICPC is mandated to advise, instruct and train other officers, agencies on means and methods by which corrupt practices can be prevented or tracked down.
- The agency is empowered to query systems, procedures of public establishments where there are allegations of corruption so as to prosecute or supervise them.
- To enlighten the masses against corruption, bribery and other financial related offences.
- To promote nationalism and general support in the fight against corruption in Nigeria
When the ICPC seeks to prosecute offenders, it is deemed under the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 to be done with the consent of the Attorney- General. In addition to this, a Chief Judge of a state shall hear and determine all cases. There are two judges designated to do this in each state and the Federal capital territory.