EFCC, Metropolitan Police begin probe of govs, ministers others
WITH less than six months to the end of the current democratic administration, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has begun investigations into the financial activities of some serving governors and ministers, with the intent to bringing them to book on suspected fraud.
Already, the commission has put the Metropolitan Police of London, and other security agencies around the world on the alert regarding the officials who may attempt to escape the country.
Briefing journalists Monday in Abuja, Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde and Detective Chief Inspector Jonathan Benson of the Metropolitan Police stated their resolve to collaborate over investigations into the activities of the noted officials as they did in the past, in the cases that involved James Ibori and pardoned DSP Alameiyeseigha among others.
According to Lamorde, the EFCC has a lot of on-going investigations being conducted with the Metropolitan Police. Speaking on the immunity of some of these serving officials, the EFCC chairman said immunity would be over in less than six months. He informed that while Britain will shortly begin the return of some confiscated assets to Nigeria, the confiscation proceedings on the assets of James Ibori would soon begin.
Other officials currently under investigation according to Lamorde are former Heads of Service, and some National Assembly members. He however warned that some of the investigations might take time, citing the case of Ibori which investigation began in 2004 but was arrested in 2011. He noted that it is not proper to arrest a suspect until investigations are concluded and the agency is ready to go to court with evidence. He explained that when a suspect is arrested as soon as investigation begins, “you alert the suspect.”
“We have had a very robust relationship with Metropolitan Police dating over 10 years. Mr. Benson has come with his team and we are here to review our activities over the years and the current activities we are working on. We have a lot on ongoing investigations that we have been doing together. We need to review those cases and see how we move them forward.”
“The Metropolitan Police’s Proceeds of Corruption unit assisted us in the case of DSP Alameyeiseigha, Joshua Dariye, and of course the big one that everybody is aware of, James Ibori who is serving a jail term in the United Kingdom. In a few months, there is also going to be a confiscation proceeding in respect of the assets of James Ibori in the United Kingdom, which we’ve been working assiduously to make sure that when the proceeding come up it will be successful”.
“It is the result of some of the new cases we have been working on which involve some sitting state governors, some governors that have left office, some ministers that are serving and those that have left office, some former Heads of Service of the Federation, some members of the National Assembly. We will not mention names since it is an on-going investigation that we are doing and you know that unlike when most of our people want sensationalism, which is not the way it works. Investigations have to be conducted properly first. It is when the matter is ready to go to court that names are given to individual cases. When we are ready to go to court, then names of these cases will be properly mentioned so that people will know”, he said.
Lamorde, who used the opportunity to speak on the commission’s frustration with the prosecution of some former governors such as Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state (now serving), Joshua Dariye of Plateau state (now a Senator), Saminu Turaki (currently on the wanted list), and Abubakar Audu among others, called for the review of Nigeria’s criminal justice system. He also called on the media to be more interested in following the cases as they proceed in court.
According to him, the high profile suspects do everything in their power to frustrate trial by employing lawyers who continue to file frivolous applications in court.
He expressed appreciation to Benson and his team for the assistance they have rendered to the EFCC, and to Nigeria, saying that the continued gestures have yielded tremendously results for Nigeria’s fight against corruption.
In his remarks, Benson recounted the experience of collaboration works with the EFCC and pledged “work continues”.
“We have had a long standing relationship but this is my first visit to Nigeria. We have met in many international fora and discussed. We must remember we can only do this together; we can’t do it in isolation. The international financial centres do play a part in the international financial sector where money flows and where money is moved and where people like to buy houses and go on holidays. London is one of those places”.
“We should play our part for anti corruption and therefore, we are very privileged to have this very long standing relationship with the EFCC. We’ve worked together for years and EFCC has always been helpful and supportive. We also support the EFCC with the investigations they have here in Nigeria and us doing the bit that we need to do in the UK to help gather the evidence to support action. We have some successful results and they are as mentioned, James Ibori to say the very least. And work continues,” he said.