• Says commission secured conviction of 140 suspects in six months
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja with agency report
The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, on Thursday said there is no one who would “come out clean” after honouring the invitation of the anti-graft agency.
Speaking on Question Time, a programme on Channels Television, Magu said the commission carries out thorough findings before inviting suspects.
He denied the allegation that the EFCC had turned into a tool for political witch-hunt, saying the commission is only after “thieves.”
“We don’t chase innocent people; we investigate people before we arrest them. We follow the money, we trace when you received the money, and we also investigate how you utilised the money.
“That’s why anybody who is invited here will not come out clean, because we do our homework before we invite you. We may investigate for a year or six months and the person would not know,” he said.
Magu, according to The Cable, said the agency does not select those it prosecutes, adding that once there is any evidence against suspects, the EFCC goes after them.
“There is no sacred cow, we will go after anybody who has stolen the resources of the people. We have no reservations.
“We fight corruption both within and outside. We don’t go after innocent people for political reasons, we are going after the thieves of state resources,” Magu added.
He described London as the “headquarters of money laundering,” alleging that Britain’s capital had created a haven for stolen money.
“London is the capital of money laundering; it is where all the stolen money is hidden. It has given a haven to all the corrupt persons and stolen money from all states of the world.
“In fact, it is the headquarters of money laundering. Most of the stolen money are hidden either by properties or in banks or as physical cash,” he stated.
David Cameron, British Prime Minister, had referred to Nigeria as a ‘fantastically corrupt country’ in a conversation with the Queen.
Meanwhile, at the launch of ‘Clean Hands’ Campaign in Abuja yesterday, Magu said the reinvigorated anti-corruption drive had yielded tremendous results as it had secured the convictions of 140 suspects within six months.
He charged Nigerians to imbibe the culture of ‘ living with clean hands’ as a way of stamping out corruption from the society.
Magu stated that the job of the EFCC entails confronting looters of the nation’s commonwealth, taking on impunity and restoring hope to the hopeless, adding that the Commission had been reshaping the face of law enforcement in Nigeria in the past 13 years.
Speaking on the theme: ‘‘We Must Win The War on Corruption and Impunity, the anti-graft czar stated that the commission had kept faith with its mandate and the expectations of Nigerians with several convictions.
“In just six months of this year, we have secured over 140 convictions, including some elusive ‘high profile’ criminals. We have recovered billions of dollars of stolen funds and blocked numerous avenues of money laundering,’’ he said.
Magu stated that the commission had also given its prevention mandate a new lease of life, adding the people were now fully informed of its activities on all communication channels.
According to him, the new strategies being employed by EFCC had enabled Nigerians to take direct ownership of the war on corruption.
He said: ‘‘Citizens are now more disposed to preemptively act against corruption; and where the act has been committed, they are willing to work with EFCC to fish out the criminals.
‘‘However, in order to ensure that justice is fully served to the victim, the perpetrator and the society, it is important for us all to continue to hold everyone in the justice delivery chain accountable.”
The EFCC boss also urged Nigerians to continue to mount ‘‘due pressure’’ on the commission to carry out diligent investigation and prosecution and to inform the people of its activities.
He, however, charged Nigerians to also take more seriously, their watchdog role over the members of the National Assembly so as to make them more alive to their responsibilities to pass laws that are adequate and functional.
‘In the same vein, the Co-founder of the Transparency International and Co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign (BBOG), Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, urged every Nigerian to be involved in the fight against corruption.
Ezekwesili, who commended the vigour and commitment of Magu in the fight against corruption, said: ‘‘If any Nigerian is serious at all about the necessity for the greatness of the nation, then, he or she must take the fight against corruption seriously. This is because the consequence of not taking the fight against corruption seriously is that the nation will forever be mortgaged.”
She continued: ‘‘Nigeria is a country that the world agreed had incredible potentials to be one of the leading countries of the world. As a matter of fact, at the time of Nigeria’s Independence, many around the world took a bet that Nigeria was the black nation that would likely put in hot pursuit all other nations of the world in terms of greatness that it had.
‘‘Sadly, 56 years after Independence, when some of those nations that took a bet on Nigeria look at what has become of the country, they ponder what has gone wrong. But what has gone wrong is what the EFCC has been established to tackle.’’
Also speaking, the Chairman, House Committee on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption, Hon. Kayode Oladele, said it was important to start the fight against corruption from the grassroots.
According to Oladele; ‘‘from time immemorial, we always know that one of the things that the EFCC does is to investigate and prosecute people who are found wanting for breach of public trust and corruption.
“But we have found out that the people who lead us did not fall from heaven. They are part and parcel of the society. Therefore, if we want to ensure that we stamp out corruption, then, we have to start from the grassroots.’’
He also urged Nigerians to see themselves as fighters against corruption, beyond giving legitimacy to the work of the EFCC.
The EFCC Clean Hands Campaign, which kicked off with a walk by staff and management of EFCC, among other interest groups, also featured match past and choreography by a number of primary and secondary school students in Abuja.
The event was held simultaneously in all EFCC offices across the country. In Port Harcourt, Mr. Ishaq Salihu, the Zonal Head, South –South, urged every Nigerian to embrace the fight against corrupt practices. “The fight against corruption is for our collective good as the country is gradually drawing towards the precipice due to corruption”. He said it was time every patriotic Nigerian took up the gauntlet to fight corruption and money laundering if we are desirous of a better country.
The rally drew a mammoth crowd including members of the civil society and stakeholders in the fight against corruption, such as Citizens for Anti corruption Corps, Rivers State; Patriotic Forum of Nigeria; members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, CDS group and officers of the EFCC.
At the Commission’s new Zonal Office in Maiduguri, staff of the Commission and stakeholders staged a massive anti- corruption walk which commenced from Ramat Polytechnic opposite Police Command Maiduguri and terminated at the Commission’s office where the Zonal Head Ibrahim Bappa called on Nigerians to rally round the Commission in the onerous task of fighting corruption.
In Ibadan Akaninyene Ezima, Ibadan Zonal Head, who represented the Ag. Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, reiterated the commitment of the government and EFCC to the fight against corruption. “We all agree that corruption is a menace and the present administration is determined to give it a deadly blow.
It is in line with this, that the Ag. Chairman of the Commission deemed it necessary that we should embark on this sensitisation and re-orientation rally to drum up support for the crusade. It is also an opportunity to further educate and create awareness about the presence of the EFCC in Ibadan which was borne of the view to bring the fight against corruption to the grassroots”, he said.
In solidarity with the government and the EFCC in particular, the opinion leaders at the rally, express confidence in the Commission, encouraging the public and educating them on the need to partner with the Commission and support the fight against corruption.
Moshood Erubami, Professor Olawale Albert, Prof. Bayo Okunade and Dotun Saseyi sued for total support and cooperation from the stakeholders. “We have been hearing about the fight against corruption with our ears but now the Commission is here with us now and they are now soliciting for our support. Let us support them and collectively we will all enjoy a better society”, Erubami remarked.
In Enugu, the state governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, whose convoy met the EFCC procession on his way to the State House on Independence Avenue, said he was in full support of the EFCC’s efforts in fighting the menace of financial and economic crimes and corruption in the South-east zone and Nigeria in general.
“I encourage this, (the rally) and I am against corruption.” He stated amidst cheers from the crowd.
Later in his remark during the event, the EFCC South-east Zonal Head, Obioha Okorie, expressed his appreciation to the acting Chairman of the Commission, Magu, for his foresight in initiating the rally across the zones and in supporting the resuscitation of the fight against corruption generally.
He stated that the rally was in line with the Commission’s public enlightenment and sensitisation mandate meant to warn and solicit the support of Nigerians for the fight against graft. “What we have done is to create awareness and to let people know the negative effects of corruption in their lives and how to stem the ugly trend.”