Can a few brave souls make a difference in the fight against corruption? My guest on the Global Prosperity Wonkcast this week is Nuhu Ribadu, the former head of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or EFCC and a visiting fellow here at the Center for Global Development. Nuhu is working on a manuscript that tells the story of his four years (2003-2007) at the helm of the EFCC during which he won more than 275 convictions and recovered an astonishing $5 billion in stolen assets.
Nuhu explains the circumstances that led Nigeria to create the EFCC, starting with the 1999 democratic elections, the first in 16 years. The new president, Olusegun Obasanjo, had campaigned on an anti-corruption platform. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks provided an additional push, heightening international awareness of the illicit financial flows that enable terrorist networks and political corruption alike. As a result, in late 2001 Nigeria found itself on an international blacklist of countries that enable money laundering, a list maintained by the independent Financial Action Task Force. It took nearly two years for Nigerian officials to realize they were on this black list and take action to get off of it. When they finally acted, they created the EFCC, a new office charged with cracking down on money laundering.