Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana at the weekend disclosed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) secured 140 convictions in six months, noting that the agency’s culture of proper record-keeping made it possible to secure the convictions.
Likewise, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has emphasised the strategic significance of proper record-keeping in fighting corrupt practices; arresting the growing trend on insecurity and ending the disturbing spate on illicit trade in historical artifacts in the country.
The duo made the remarks at a public forum organised by the Lagos State Records and Archives Bureau (LASRAB) at the Memorable Gathering Event Centre, Alausa to mark the 2016 International Archives Day.
The forum featured Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Nation Newspapers, Mr. Sam Omatseye, Commissioner for Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, LASRAD Director-General, Mr. Biodun Onayele, and a renowned archivist from the University of Ibadan, Dr. Abiola Abioye among others.
At the forum, the human rights lawyer disclosed that the anti-graft commission had been able “to secure 140 convictions in the last six months. The reason was that the agency has records,” which, according to him, helped its operatives in their fight against corruption.
Falana lamented that all the Ministries of Justice across the states of the federation “have not done what EFCC had done in the last six months. So, the only apparatus that had standout in the last couple of years was the EFCC. They have helped in fighting corruption in the country.
“The reason was that they have a National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU). The unit monitors the movement of money across the country. The unit did this through the effort of technology. That is record keeping.
“But the police arrest first and from the statement they get from him, is what they use in their investigation. When Nigerians demanded that the federal government publish the names of those who returned the money earlier misappropriated, they are asking for records.”
He also cited the case of the judiciary, noting that it was not easy “to get copy of any judgment. There is no court in Nigeria that can give you a copy of judgment of 15 years; even if you give N1 billion.
“We have an archive in the Lagos High Court. To get a document from the archive would require one paying specially. And they will tell you that you should give them three months. After time elapses, they will tell you that they cannot find it. With this act, vital records are lost.”
Ambode, who was represented by the Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde at the forum, emphasised the strategic importance of keeping records in fighting and tracking crime and insecurity.
He said the illicit trade in historical artifacts “has gained prominence globally. Even though international convention has made this practice cumbersome, we have recorded some success in this regard. Some artifacts stolen from various communities in Nigeria are been gradually returned.”
The governor, therefore, explained that since the creation of LASRAB, efforts had been made “to gain access to valuable records that have been magnanimous handed over to the state government for safe keeping and conservation for all.”