CORRUPTION-RELATED OFFENCES UNDER THE ICPC AND EFCC ACT:JUSTIFICATION FOR THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO COMMISSION

Abstract

Corruption is a gruesome monster which has bedeviled and eaten deep into the fabrics of the society, the public and private sectors, our democratic institutions and economy.. Although the Criminal and Penal Codes contained offenses against corruption, they have not been able to effectively combat the scourge. For instance, both Codes have provisions dealing with the forfeiture of proceeds of crime; they are however insufficient to deal with the full range and scope of corruption, which has also been linked with other forms of crime such as organized and economic cum financial crimes, including money laundering, cybercrime, and financial fraud. New laws became necessary to deal with new crimes or those not sufficiently covered by the general criminal law and to provide for stiffer penalties for corruption-related offenses. This led to the enactment of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000 and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act) 2004, inter alia.

 

Introduction

The Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences (ICPC) Act 2000 and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act 2004 are some legal frameworks enacted by the National Assembly to combat and deal with new corruption-related crimes or and to provide for stiffer penalties for corruption-related offenses  not sufficiently covered by the general criminal law.

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While the ICPC Act especially targets corruption in the public sector, such as bribery, gratification, graft, and abuse or misuse of office, the EFCC Act covers people in all sectors who appear to be living above their means, and empowers the EFCC (established by the Act) to investigate, prosecute and combat money laundering and other economic cum financial crimes linked to corruption such as tracking illicit wealth accruing from abuse of office and stopping such wealth from being integrated into the financial system.

This work shall therefore give a brief overview of the ICPC and EFCC Acts respectively, elucidate on the Corruption-related offences under the respective Acts, justifying the differences in their jurisdiction.

 

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Brief Overview Of The ICPC Act..

The ICPC Act, enacted in 2000, establishes the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related [1]Offences Commission1 and empowers the Commission with the mandate and duty to receive and investigate reports of corruption and in appropriate cases prosecute the offender(s), to examine, review and enforce the correction of corruption prone systems and procedures of public bodies, with a view to eliminating corruption in public life, and to educate and enlighten the public on and against corruption and related offences with a view to enlisting and fostering public support for the fight against corruption.[2]

In the case  of Nwankwoala v. F.R.N,[3] the Supreme Court affirmed the lawfulness of the ICPC Act as a law validly enacted and in force to to check official corruption and abuse of office by political and public office holders. See also F.R.N. v. Wabara[4]

 

Corruption-Related Offences Under the ICPC Act

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Act defines and proscribes various corruption-related offenses and acts,  prescribing penalties for those found guilty. Under the Act, a wide range of offenses are created which cover acts of corruption that can be committed by both public and non-public officers. Here are some of the key corruption-related offenses under the ICPC Act:

 

  1. Accepting Gratfication by a Public Officer

Section 8 of the ICPC Act makes it an offence for any person to accept gratification by corruptly asking for or receiving any property or benefit, or an agreement or attempt of this. A public officer who commits any of these acts is liable to imprisonment for seven years. The provision of section 8 is impari material (i.e. the same) with that of section 98 of the Criminal Code on bribery.

In F.R.N v. KAYODE-BECKLEY[5], the Court stated the essential ingredients of the offence of gratification thus; i.) That the accused is a public officer; ii.) that he corruptly accepted a gift from an individual or corporate entity; ii.) that the gift was an inducement for doing, forbearing to perform official duty or having been accepted to do or refrain from performing his official duty. See also LAWAN V. F.R.N.[6]

2. Giving Gratification to a Public Officer

Section 9 of the ICPC Act cover acts of any person or his agent giving gratification, by corruptly giving, conferring , procuring, promising or offering to give or confer any property or benefit of any kind to, on or for a public officer or any other person, or this provision is the same as section 98A of the Criminal Code.

Section 17 of the ICPC Act is on the offence of receiving gratification through agent. The section also defines what are ‘consideration’, ‘agent’ and ‘principal’. This offence attracts five years imprisonment. Section 1 of the ICPC Act has a very wide definition of the word ‘gratification’ used throughout in the Act. The Court in KOMOLAFE V. FRN[7] stated the essential ingredients of the offense under Section 17(1)(c).

3. Acceptor or Giver of gratification to be Guilty Irrespective of Purpose Not Carried Out

 Section 10 of the ICPC Act deals with any person who asks for, receives or obtains property or benefit. This provision is similar to the provision of section 98B of the Criminal Code. The difference is that under section 10 of the ICPC Act, the word ‘corruptly’ was not used to qualify the ‘asking’ or ‘receiving’.

Also, section 10 of the ICPC Act only captured the provisions in section 98B(1) and excluded the one under section 98B(2) but the provision of 98B(2) is made as section 11 of the ICPC Act.

The Court in NWANKWOALA V. FRN[8] stated the essential ingredients of the offence under S.10 a(ii) thus; a.) The offender must be a public officer. (b) That he asked for benefit of any kind for himself or for any other person in respect of something to be afterwards done.(c) That he asked for the benefit in the course of discharge of his official duties.

Section 11 makes the acceptor or giver of bribe in the S.8,9&10 of the Act guilty irrespective of the purpose not carried out. The section makes it unnecessary to prove that the Public Officer counseled the commission of the offense or the accused intended to give the property or benefit.

Flowing from the above, on sections 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the ICPC Act, the analysis made under bribe as regards sections 98, 98A and 98B of the Criminal Code will apply.

4. Fraudulent Acquisition or Receipt of Property

Section 12 of the ICPC Act is on fraudulent acquisition of property by a public by a public official having private interest in a public contract connected with his department or public service, and the provision is almost the same as the one in section 101 of the Criminal Code, save that the provision of section 12 ICPC Act excludes the words ‘and to be fined at the discretion of the court’ contained in section 101 of the Criminal Code.

Also, the punishment under the ICPC Act is stiffer, being seven years imprisonment while that of the Criminal Code is three years. Also the proviso that, the offender cannot be arrested without warrant contained in section 101 of the Criminal Code is not included in the provision of section 12 of the ICPC Act.

Section 13 of the ICPC Act is on fraudulent receipt of property and the same provision is part of the one contained in section 427 of the Criminal Code that deals with receiving stolen goods, the penalty is provided under section 14 of the Act as three years imprisonment.

Section 14 of the ICPC Act is on penalty for offences under the S.13 committed through the postal system. This provision is the remaining part of that contained in section 427 of the Code. While the offence under the Act carries a surprisingly lesser penalty of seven years imprisonment that of the Code is stiffer as it is imprisonment for life.

5. Deliberate Frustration of Investigation by the Commission

It is an offence under section 15 of the ICPC Act for anyone with, intent to defraud, to conceal a crime or frustrate the Commission in its investigation of anyone suspected of crime under the Act, by destroying or falsifying any book, document, etc., or is a privy to such acts, or, omits or is a privy to omitting any material particular from any such book, document, etc. The penalty is imprisonment for seven years.

Section 16 of the ICPC Act prohibits a public officer from making false statements or returns. This attracts seven years imprisonment. This offence is similar to the in section 103 of the Criminal Code but that of the Code carries a lesser punishment of three years.

The Court in OKE V. FRN[9] stated the essential Ingredients of the offence of furnishing false information under section 15 ICPC Act thus; i.)That the accused was a public officer;(b) That he was charged with the receipt, custody, use or management of any part of the public revenue or property;(c) That he knowingly furnished false statement or return in respect of any money or property received by him or entrusted to his care, or any balance of money or property in his possession or under his control.

6. Wider Scope of Bribery Offence

Section 18 of the ICPC Act makes it an offence for any person to give bribe to a public officer or for a public officer to solicit, counsel or accept gratification in respect of any act or omission which includes voting or abstaining from voting at any meeting of public body in favour or against any measure, resolution or the preventing of any official act.

Receiving bribe to vote at meetings is wider than that covered by the Criminal Code.  Also, receiving gratification covers acts such as performing or otherwise, aiding, expediting or delaying, or hindering the performance of any official act. The punishment for this is five years imprisonment. This offence is wider in scope than the ones under the Criminal Code in respect of bribery.

Section 19 of the ICPC Act makes it an offence for any public officer to use his office for gratification by conferring corrupt or unfair advantage upon himself or any person. The offence carries a punishment of five years imprisonment.

The Court in FRN V KAYODE-BECKELEY[10] stated the essential elements of this offense thus; i.)That the accused person is a public officer. ii.). That he used his office or position to gratify or confer any corrupt or unfair advantage upon himself or any relation or associate of his or upon any other public officer.” See also FRN v. USMAN & Anor.[11]

7. Forfeiture of Gratification

Under section 20 of the ICPC Act, any public officer found guilty of soliciting, offering or receiving gratification under the Act, in addition to the punishment specified for the offence, shall forfeit the gratification and also be liable to pay a fine of not less than five times the sum or value of the gratification. Where the gratification cannot be valued, the fine to be paid is ten thousand naira.

8. Bribery in Respect of Auctions or Contracts

Sections 21 and 22 of the Act, provides for offences on account of accepting bribe in respect of auctions and for giving assistance as regards contracts, etc. The provision of section 22 prohibits various acts such as, influencing execution of contracts, inflation of contract sum or price of goods and services, signing of contracts without budgetary provision, transferring or spending the sum allocated for a particular project or service on another.

These offences carry punishment ranging from three to seven years imprisonment, and in some cases with additional fine of one hundred thousand or one million naira, as the case may be.

9. Duty to Report Bribe

Section 23 of the ICPC Act makes it mandatory for a public officer, to who gratification has been given, offered or promised, and any person from whom gratification has been solicited or obtained or from whom an attempt has been made to obtain from, to report the same to either at the nearest office of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) or a police officer.

Failure to report without reasonable excuse carries a fine of one hundred thousand naira or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years, or to both fine and imprisonment.

The Ingredients of the offence under Section 23(1) of the ICPC Act was stated by the Court in NWANKWOALA V. FRN thus; a.)The offender must be a public officer; b.) The public officer to whom the offer of gratification is made to must report same together with the name of the person who made the offer, if known, to the nearest Officer of the ICPC or a Police Officer.

Other offences specified in the ICPC Act includes dealing with property acquired through gratification – section 24, making false or misleading statement to the ICPC – section 25, attempt and conspiracy punishable as an offence under the Act – section 26.

 

Brief Overview of the EFCC Act

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act) 2004 (EFCC Act) also created corruption and related offences under the Act. The Act empowers its commission, EFCC to examine and investigate all cases of economic and financial crimes, including advance fee fraud, money laundering, computer credit card fraud, contract scam, etc. It also has powers to identify, trace, freeze, confiscate or seize proceeds of crimes committed under the Act.[12]

 

CORRUPTION-RELATED OFFENCES UNDER THE EFCC ACT

The EFCCAct, being another legal frameworks created and used to combat the monstrous plague called Corruption, contains some key provisions for corruption-related offenses to wit;

  1.  Not Securing Compliance with the Act

Section 14 of the EFCC Act makes it an offence for any person who being an officer of a bank or other financial or non-designated financial institution, to fail or neglect to secure compliance with the provisions of the Act or the authenticity of any statement submitted pursuance to the provisions of the Act.

The punishment is a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years or to a fine of five hundred thousand naira or to both such fine and imprisonment.

2. Giving False Information

Under section 16 of the EFCC Act it is an offence for any person to give false information to any public officer in relation to any information required under the Act. The punishment is not less than two years and not more than three years imprisonment. Where the offender is a public officer, penalty is stiffer, from three to five years.

3. Concealment of Proceeds of Crime:

Under sections 17 and 18 of the EFCC Act, concealment or retention of or acquiring interest in the proceeds of crime is a crime with punishment ranging from two to three years. In some cases, the imprisonment can be with a fine.

4. Forfeiture of Assets

A person convicted of an offence under the EFCC Act, shall have his passport, assets and properties, shown to be derived or acquired from economic or financial crime forfeited to the Federal Government.[13]

 

JUSTIFICATION OF THE DIFFERENCES IN THEIR JURISDICTIONS

The differences in jurisdiction between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) in Nigeria can be justified by their distinct legal mandates, areas of focus, and the need for a multifaceted approach to combating corruption and related offenses.

These agencies complement each other in combating corruption comprehensively, addressing both financial and non-financial aspects of this complex problem.

Here are justifications for the differences in their jurisdiction:

  1. Legal Mandates

EFCC: The EFCC was established primarily to investigate and prosecute economic and financial crimes, including money laundering, advance fee fraud, bribery, and embezzlement. Its legal mandate is explicitly focused on addressing financial and economic offenses, which are often linked to corruption.

ICPC:  The ICPC, on the other hand, was established to address corrupt practices and related offenses in both the public and private sectors. Its mandate extends to broader forms of corruption, such as abuse of office, extortion, and fraudulent procurement practices.

2. Scope of Offenses 

EFCC: The EFCC’s jurisdiction is more specialized, concentrating on economic and financial crimes that have financial implications for the government and the economy. It handles cases like money laundering, cybercrime, and financial fraud.

ICPC: The ICPC has a wider scope, encompassing various forms of corruption that affect both public and private sector institutions. Its focus goes beyond financial crimes to address issues like abuse of office, nepotism, and fraudulent activities in public procurement.

3. Sectoral Coverage

EFCC: While the EFCC primarily deals with offenses related to financial and economic sectors, it may also investigate corruption cases involving public officials if they are tied to financial crimes.

ICPC: The ICPC’s jurisdiction covers corruption in all sectors, including public administration, education, healthcare, and the private sector. It plays a vital role in ensuring integrity and accountability in various spheres of society.

4. Legislative Framework:

The differences in jurisdiction are a reflection of the distinct legislative frameworks that established these agencies. The EFCC was created by the EFCC Act of 2004, while the ICPC was established by the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Act of 2000. These laws define the agencies’ roles and responsibilities.

5. Specialization

Specialization is a key factor in the differences in jurisdiction. The EFCC’s specialization in financial crimes allows it to develop expertise in tracking money trails and addressing complex financial offenses. The ICPC’s broader jurisdiction equips it to tackle a wide range of corrupt practices in various sectors.

 

CONCLUSION:

Conclusively, the EFCC and ICPC Acts, along with their respective Commissions, are part of the broader legal framework and agencies dedicated to effectively combating corruption in Nigeria.

Compared to the Criminal Code, the ICPC Act has a wider coverage of corruption related offenses, which spans across corruption offenses committed not just by public officials but by private individuals in all sectors.

Under the act, corrupt practices extended to soliciting, counseling or accepting gratification for the purpose of voting or abstaining from voting at any meeting of public body in favour or against any measure, resolution or the preventing of any official act. Grafitication, under the Act, covers acts such as performing or otherwise, aiding, expediting or delaying, or hindering the performance of any official act. influencing execution of contracts, inflation of contract sum, price of goods and services, signing of contracts without budgetary provision, spending the sum allocated for a particular project or service on another. It is now mandatory under the Act to report bribe.

Meanwhile, the primary focus of the EFCC Act, which primary focus is on addressing economic and financial crimes linked to corruption, empowers the EFCC  to investigate corruption cases involving public officials if they are tied to financial crimes.

The differences in jurisdiction between the EFCC and ICPC are justified by their unique mandates, areas of focus, and the need to address the multifaceted challenges of corruption in Nigeria comprehensively. These agencies, created by their respective Acts, work together to combat corruption from different angles, contributing to the overall anti-corruption efforts and developments in the country.

[1]  S. 3 of the ICPC Act 2000

[2] S. 6 of the Act

[3] [2018] 11 NWLR (Pt.1637) Pp. 410, para. F; 412, para. E

[4]  (2013) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1347)

[5]  (2020) JELR 91968 (CA)

[6] (2022) 7 NWLR 293

[7](2018) JELR 34448 (SC)

[8] (2018) JELR 39083 (

[9] OKE v. FRN (2016) JELR 41518 (CA)

[10] Supra

[11](2018) JELR 35381 (CA)

[12] S. 6 of the EFCC Act

[13] Sections 20, 21, 22 and 23.

 

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