The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) hinted yesterday it has concluded plans to reopen corruption cases of former governors and other top government officials.
With the development, the commission is set to revisit and prosecute the former governors.
The ex-governors who may face fresh trial include Orji Uzor Kali (Abia State), Peter Odili (Rivers State), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina State), Saminu Turaki and Sule Lamido (Jigawa State), Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu State), Ikedi Ohakim (Imo State), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa State), among others.
One of the cases in which the commission had secured conviction before the Supreme Court voided the trial is that of the former Abia governor, Orji Uzor Kalu
The EFCC had preferred a 36-count charge against Kalu and Ude Jones Udeogu, a former Director of Finance and Account in Abia in 2007.
The former governor bagged 12 years imprisonment in December 2019, while Udeogu was sentenced to 10 years in prison on December 5, 2019.
But the apex court on May 8, 2020, voided the trial after an appeal filed by Kalu’s co-defendant.
Indicating yesterday that the former governors would be facing fresh trial, chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, said the EFCC was also set to begin prosecution of 800 new corruption cases.
He noted that since he assumed office, a number of recoveries have been made including N6 billion, $161 million, £13,000 pounds, €1,730 among others.
Bawa stated this while speaking during a ministerial briefing organised by the presidential media team at the presidential villa to mark his 100 days in office as chairman of the EFCC.
He said quite a lot has been accomplished in the process of actualizing some of the promises he made to Nigerians during his confirmation by the Senate.
According to him, the milestones recorded so far include the restructuring of the commission for improved performance with the establishment of a new directorate as well as the reorganization and upgrade of a couple of others.
Noting that the commission does not make recoveries for only the federal government, but all victims of fraud, the EFCC boss vowed not to be stopped by any form of threat in prosecuting suspects.
He said the commission has also recovered $100 million from Integrated Logistics Services (INTELS) on behalf of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
He noted that the $100 million recovered for the NPA was from some of the outstanding remittances that INTELS owed the country.
He said in line with his vision to run an agency that is driven by intelligence, a Directorate of Intelligence had been created, and its impact was already being felt through the provision of intelligence that led to a major recovery.
In terms of the improvement of processes, he revealed that he commission has commenced the codification of Standard Operating Procedures for all units and departments.
The measure, he said, will remove discretion from the work of the commission.
Reiterating a point he made before the Senate, the EFCC boss said he envisions a commission where he, as executive chairman, would give instruction to an officer and he would say, ‘sorry sir, I cannot carry out your directive because it conflicts with the rule’.
“I want an institution that works with rules and regulations…we will launch the SOPs soon and the EFCC can run on auto pilot”, he said.
Other measures already rolled out by the commission, the EFCC boss said, include development of policies on document classification, healthcare, sexual harassment and bullying, staff welfare, training, communication, new staff ranking, use of firearms and retirement, among others.
He further disclosed that the commission had taken steps to improve its operational capabilities through the modification of Assets Declaration forms in line with the Commission’s enabling laws.
He said there are strategies to prevent corruption through fraud risk assessment for MDAs, monitoring of procurement process and extensive public enlightenment, including the resuscitation of the interfaith dialogue.
He said the platform which was launched in 2014 as avenue for Muslims and Christian to be sensitized on corruption through a teaching and preaching manual is being revived, even as the teaching manuals are being reviewed and will be launched soon.
Other measures to prevent corruption, according to the EFCC boss, include the development of a Property Ownership Database with the ultimate objective of determining the beneficial owners of properties.
Additionally, he disclosed that the commission was developing an App which will facilitate the seamless reporting of complaints to the agency by citizens eager to assist the fight against corruption.
The App, he said, will soon be launched.
Bawa said the commission in the last 100 days has strengthened its partnership with local and international partners, fully conscious of the fact that it cannot fight corruption alone.
He further provided updates on the recoveries recorded over the past three months as well as the record of arrest in cybercrime cases.
Expressing worry about youth involvement in internet fraud, Bawa said the commission was working with stakeholders to discourage them and appealed to the media to assist in sensitizing the youths against cybercrime.
He further pointed out that not all recoveries made by the commission belong to the federal government.
According to him, they have made recoveries for victims of criminals and they can be individuals, local government, state government, federal government, corporate entities whether in Nigeria or outside Nigeria.
He said, “Let me use this opportunity to clarify issues. There are a number of recoveries that the EFCC has made over the years but is not all recoveries made that belong to the federal government.
“We have made recoveries for victims of criminals and they can be individuals, local government, state government, federal government, corporate entities whether in Nigeria or outside Nigeria.
“There are also recoveries that are indirect recoveries. Just a couple of weeks back, we recovered $100 million for the Nigeria Ports Authority but the monies were paid into the account of NPA but through our efforts.
“Am I not going to record that we have recovered such an amount for NPA? Are you going to see it in the EFCC recovered account with the CBN? No.
“There are recoveries that are made directly into the EFCC account. It is through systems and processes, there is Department of asset forfeiture and recovery management department in EFCC responsible for collating all the data regarding recovered assets, assets on interest forfeiture and assets on final forfeiture as well as their location and of course their management.”
The EFCC boss further explained that from the time he took over, “we have recovered over N6 billion, over $161 million, over £13,000, €1,730, 200 Canadian dollars, CFA 373,000, ¥8,430.
“We have recovered 30 real East’s, one carpet, 13 electronics, one farm land, one factory, two motorcycles, one filling station and about 32 automobiles.
He also stated that the rising increase of internet fraud is a huge problem for the country.
“From January to 10th of June 2021, we arrested 1,502 internet fraudsters across the country. On Monday that the court resumed, we attempted to file close to about 800 cases of internet fraud. It is a serious problem and we are working tirelessly towards curtailing it.
“We are working with state governments that we have identified to be more vulnerable to this. It is something parents, elders, institutions should be talking to one another; it is tarnishing the image of this country.”
Bawa also clarified that he was not referring to a serving minister in his narration of how a minister purchased a property through a bank chief.
He said he was not referring to a serving minister, but a former minister of Petroleum Resources, Deziani Alison-Madueke.
Bawa had on Tuesday in an interview with Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, disclosed that EFCC investigated the female minister, who bought $37.5million property from a bank and deposited $20 million cash.
He also identified the real estate sector as a major conduit for money laundering.
Bawa observed 90 to 100 per cent of stolen public funds are used for the procurement of houses and lands.
“We investigated a matter in which a bank MD marketed a property to a minister and agreed to purchase it at $37.5 million.
“The bank then sent a vehicle to her house to evacuate $20 million from her house in the first instance,” he said.
When asked why no minister had resigned or a bank manager being prosecuted over the matter, Bawa said he was only making reference to Diezani Alison-Madueke case, insisting she will still be prosecuted once she is in the country.