By Tony Orilade, Ag. Head, Media & Publicity, EFCC
Anti-graft war: EFCC Faults UK Agency Over Alleged Lack of Cooperation
The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been drawn to a report in Thisday Newspapers of Wednesday, March 6, 2019, under the headline: “UK: Nigeria’s Anti-corruption Fights Frustrated by EFCC, Others.”
We observe that the report contains several illogicalities, credited to the Programme Manager of the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RoLAC) Programme of the British Council, Mr. Uche Emmanuel, which if ignored are capable of misleading both Nigerians and the international community.
Without the slightest of attempts to cross-check his claims, Mr Emmanuel alluded that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies in the country were frustrating the corruption fight by an alleged lack of synergy among them, and their inclination to operate as islands unto themselves.
It is striking to note that the General Manager, Public Affairs of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mr Ndu Ughamadu, in the same forum where Mr. Emmanuel threw caution to the wind with his unsupported allegation disclosed that the corporation through the combined efforts of the Department of State Security (DSS), EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), recently recovered assets worth overN771million from oil marketers, who had under-paid it for petroleum products supplied to them.
As a Commission, we are horrified that a ranking official of the British Council, in charge of rule of law and anti-corruption programme, who ordinarily should be abreast of the robust interface that exists between the EFCC and various local and international law enforcement organizations is the one we are painfully subjecting to this type of schooling.
Fact is that Nigerian anti-corruption agencies collaborate in many ways that Mr. Emmanuel cannot comprehend.
The Commission as the designated financial intelligence unit, until recently, regularly shared intelligence with all other relevant agencies. Beyond the statutory requirement to synergize, we have a persuasion that no agency can go it alone which is why, over the years, the Commission absorbs officers from sister agencies who come on secondment to it.
The local inter-agency collaboration, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies so much needed saw to the establishment of the Combined Inter agency Task Force, (CITF), domiciled in the Lagos Office of the EFCC.
The CITF, which has its personnel, drawn from all the sister agencies has since its inception, remained a very active Unit within the Commission.
The result that comes from this mix, has partly been responsible for the illustrious outing of the Commission in the past 15 years.
We are, therefore, unaware of any situation that would warrant the British Council or its agent to flay the Commission over lack of local inter-agency synergy and collaboration.
In the U.K particularly, the EFCC and the DFID, (United Kingdom government’s department, responsible for administering overseas aid), the National Crime Agency (NCA), which leads UK government’s fight against serious and organised crimes and similar UK agencies have existing collaboration in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
Remarkable is that the collaboration between the U.K government and the EFCC over the years, has earned the Commission support in many areas including donation of equipment and capacity-building from the U.K.
In a collaboration that is on-going at the moment, officials of U.K security and intelligence agencies are currently operating from EFCC offices in Abuja and Lagos. We strongly believe that these collaborations could not have been possible if the British Government or its agencies have a negative perception of the Commission’s strategies and decision taking modules.
Within the global community, the EFCC is acknowledged as the lead anti-graft agency in Nigeria and a model for the rest of Africa. It is not by happenstance that anti-corruption officials from Cameroon, Tanzania, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Niger and South Sudan come to under-study the EFCC.
Given the Commission’s track record and the confidence which Nigerians have in it, the agency is daily inundated with cases which it is struggling to grapple with. These cases run into thousands yearly and makes the lumping of the EFCC by British Council or its agent among the fixated in, “pursuing one highly exposed person forever,” all the more baseless.
No one with ill-gotten wealth enjoys peace from the Commission. From the undergraduate Yahoo-Yahoo boy who’s combing the Internet for a lonely woman to scam under love pretences to the Politically Exposed Persons such as former Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, now a fugitive of the law in the U.K, who looted the public treasury to a horrible measure-we go after all of them with same degree of resolve and tenacity.
We are intent on bringing Diezani to justice and despite the spirited efforts of the commission in ensuring that she returns to Nigeria and face trial, she has been held back in the U.K by an investigation that has spanned for almost four years without any signal about when she will be available in Nigeria for prosecution.
The EFCC has been frustrated over Diezani, a development that prompted it to seek her extradition to Nigeria, so that she can have her day in court, yet we have a lot more successes to show.
Today, the average Nigerian can easily reel out names of ranking former officials of government and their counterparts from the private sector who have been successfully investigated and prosecuted by the Commission, with staggering amounts of money and fixed assets also recovered by the Commission from them.
It is important to state that the EFCC secured 314 convictions in 2018 including that of two former state governors who were sentenced to 14 years imprisonment without option of fine, while the commission has recorded about 120 convictions this year already.
Just few days ago, the former Chief of Defence Staff, the late Alex Badeh forfeited six choice properties and $1 million to the Federal Government, on the order of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja. It could also be recalled that the EFCC on Friday, March 1, 2019, secured a final forfeiture of the sum N732.85 million being proceeds of fraud perpetuated by 17 individuals in the Presidential Amnesty Programme Office.
We wish to further state that in the area of convictions, Air Vice Marshall Tony Omenyi (retd), was on Thursday, February 28, 2019, jailed for 21 years by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, Abuja, having been found guilty of the amended three-count charge brought against him by the EFCC. He also forfeited his cimpany, Huzee Nigeria Limited, and N60 million to the Federal Government.
The EFCC is committed in fulfilling the mandate of the Commission within the ambit of the rule of law; we are the hope for Nigeria’s success in the fight against corruption, therefore we should not be distracted.