The United States has expressed support for the newly appointed head of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Farida Waziri. The statement was issued by US Ambassador to Nigeria Robin Sanders. 

It pledged to continue to help the anti-graft agency become more effective. The British government has also promised to return over $100 million dollars in bank accounts – money allegedly looted by former Nigerian government officials. Meanwhile, several influential organizations, including human rights groups, have gone to court to challenge Waziri’s appointment.           

Debo Adeniran is chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders in Nigeria.  He says the US endorsement of Waziri is not in the interest of those pushing for transparency in the appointment of key government officials.

“The U.S. has been behaving as if it has double standard foreign policy. At one breath, the U.S. will says they do not want to intervene in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations. At another point, they will now accentuate the sabotage of a legal process within the same sovereign nation. When it suits the U.S. government, it says it is our own business and we should manage it. Now, this case of Farida Waziri is not one of those things that we expect a government like that of the US interfere (in) because it is our own internal affairs.”

Asked about his criticism of the United States in light of past help in fighting corruption, tracking down missing funds and generally providing assistance to the EFCC, Adeniran acknowledged the United States has helped the agency; he added that the U.S. has promised to continue to help. But he says it should have insisted that the Nigerian government follow lawful procedure in appointing Waziri. “What we know is that the US has supported even the EFCC up till the present moment and are not going to withdraw it; what we are saying is that when it comes to appointment and removal of those who are supposed to head our agencies, it is purely our own internal affairs.”

Adeniran says while the action by the British government to return looted funds is commendable, appointments of key agencies must be devoid of controversies. “What we are saying is not that she may not be able to do even better than Nuhu Ribadu (her predecessor); what we are saying is that the laws of the land, the law that was passed by the National Assembly, should be obeyed to the letter.”