Category Archives: ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION
Statements, Actions and Achievements of the EFCC
On 15 February, the Senate in Abuja, confirmed the appointment of Mr Ibrahim Lamorde as chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
President Goodluck Jonathan had, on 23 November 2011, appointed Lamorde to head the anti-graft agency. The appointment followed Jonathan’s sack of Mrs Farida Waziri as the commission’s chairperson, for undisclosed reasons.
Lamorde had been heading the agency in an acting capacity since then.
On 23 June, Deji Abiola, son of the late Chief Moshood Abiola, was remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged N35.5 million fraud, on the orders of a High Court in Ikeja, Lagos State. He is to remain there until his arraignment scheduled for 30 June.
Deji is the second son of late legendary businessman-politician, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, acclaimed winner of the annulled June 1993 presidential election, who later died in detention in 1998.
He was dragged before the court by EFCC for alleged stealing and fraudulent conversion. The anti-corruption agency alleges that sometime in 2008, Abiola collected N35.5 million from one Mr Jide Jose, promising to supply him printing machines from Switzerland. It said he never supplied any machines to the complainant and had converted the money to his personal use.
At the proceedings, presided over by Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Omeiza Adebola, asked the court to compel Abiola to take his plea and be properly arraigned. He told the court that the matter had been before the court since 2 September 2010, insisting that the charges should be read to the accused person.
However, Abiola’s lawyer, Mr A. B. Kasumu, objected to his arraignment, arguing that they had just been notified of the process. He said the accused, who had been enjoying administrative bail granted him by the EFCC, had come to court on his own volition.
He further argued that Abiola should be granted sufficient time to consult with his lawyers before taking his plea, as guaranteed by his constitutional right to fair hearing. He therefore asked the court to grant his client bail or remand him in EFCC custody, pending the filing of the bail application to be heard at the next adjournment.
After listening to the two arguments, Justice Onigbanjo ordered that Deji Abiola remain in EFCC custody until his arraignment scheduled for 30 June.
The embattled Abiola seems to have been in multiple financial controversies since 2010. In May last year, he was reportedly arrested and questioned by the Special Fraud Unit of the police in relation to a N177 million facility which he allegedly took from Guaranty Trust Bank. At about the same time, he was also reported to be in a dispute with another company over the sum of $100,000.
In her address at the 8th anniversary of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) held in Abuja on 14 June, the Commission’s chairperson, Mrs Farida Waziri, underscored the very pernicious role which corruption – and corrupt public officials – continually play in fostering crime, violence and other forms of insecurity in Nigeria. She said:
“I believe these bomb blasts, kidnappings and killings we see around us are as a result of corruption in the country. The gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider and people are angry and disillusioned.
The people involved in these acts feel short-changed by the people in leadership and they are frustrated by the system. They see so much injustice in the midst of plenty.
The various cases of militancy and terrorism that we currently experience across the country are as a result of corruption. People who perpetrate these violent acts tend to draw their motivation from the unimaginable corruption they see going on around them”.
Mrs Waziri’s word’s provide perhaps the most forthright description ever given by a Nigerian government official, of how corruption among public officers – including Federal legislators, ministers and governors – directly impacts public safety and security across the country. The essence of her words is that corrupt officials jeopardise the safety of all other citizens, in at least three major ways.
First, by abusing their offices and breaking the laws of the land with such impunity, these officials undermine the rule of law, thus pushing the society down the road to anarchy.
Secondly, by demonstrating that huge “dividends” can be earned more rapidly through corrupt schemes than honorable endeavour, they inspire other citizens to also seek quick wealth by foul or even violent means – advance fee scams, armed robbery, ransom kidnapping.
Thirdly, by mindlessly appropriating to themselves, so much of what was meant for the common good, they condemn millions of youth to scramble, with increasing desparation, for the relatively fewer crumbs that fall from the tables of corrupt sharing. When these officials mouth concerns about “youth militancy”, “labour unrest”, “communal clashes” and “sectarian strife” in various parts of the country, they refuse to acknowlwdge that these phenomena are, in part, products of the greater militancy with which some bandits among them have looted the common purse.
Thus, corruption, especially with regard to theft of public funds, is not just a moral and legal issue; it also has serious implications for public safety, human security, and even national security, in Nigeria. In plain and simple language, it is in fact, a matter of life and death.
In monitoring, analyzing and curbing threats to public security in the country, therefore, we must now begin to look beyond the usual suspects – armed gangs in the Niger Delta, Boko Haram in Maiduguri, kidnappers in Aba, cultists in Benin, “Area Boys'” in Lagos, Almajiri in Kano, night crawling girls in Abuja! All these are, to a great extent, merely symptons of a more pervasive pathology, namely the mega-corruption of public officials and the criminal governance of perverted institutions.
Stakeholders in public security in Nigeria, including government agencies, civil society groups, academic research centres and the mass media, need to focus their searchlights more intensively, on those public offices and institutions which, masquerading as the pillars of democracy, have now become the foremost conduits for pillaging the public treasury. In the efforts to make Nigeria a safer place, the priority must shift from mopping the drops that spilled on the ground to capping the real well-heads from which the sludge of corruption oozes out, undermining security and degrading human life, across the country.
The Safer Africa Group, which sponsors Safer Nigeria Information Resources, congratulates the EFCC on its work and achievements over the past 8 years. We must of course admit that the agency has had its limitations and even deficiencies; and it is yet to meet the legitimate expectations of some Nigerians who want to see more public thieves nailed conclusively. But its brave efforts are certainly making a difference to governance in Nigeria, and projecting the country as a more hopeful place in the eyes of the younger generation – and the watching world.
As the EFCC marks its 8th anniversary, we urge all Nigerians, as well as international partners, to lend greater support to this all-important national agency, in its long, titanic battle against the fat thieves who probably now constitute the greatest threats to public security in Nigeria.
On 14 June, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) launched the maiden edition of a new publication, known as Economic Crimes Law Report, in a ceremony held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
The launching was part of activities marking the eighth year anniversary of the anti-graft agency, which was established in 2003. The anniversary also coincided with Mrs Farida Waziri three years in office as chairperson of the commission. It was therefore an opportunity to also launch a book authored by Mrs Waziri herself, titled “Doing Business in Nigeria: An Investor’s Handbook”.
In her speech, the EFCC boss said the idea of publishing an EFCC law report was “conceived to provide reference material for legal practitioners, the business community, law students and the general public, with definitive pronouncements on recondite issues of law as they pertain to corruption and economic crimes in this country”.
Speaking on behalf of the editorial team which transformed that concept to reality, Mr. Tahir Mamman, Director General of the Nigerian Law School, who also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the publication, said the Law Report offers counsel and guidance to courts across the country, on new precedents in the prosecutions and decisions of higher courts.
The chairman of the occasion, Justice of the Supreme Court, Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, reviewed how corruption had adversely impacted the nation’s development. She noted that despite the enormous difficulties facing the EFCC, the commission had done better than any similar anti-graft agency in Africa. She described the publication of the EFCC’s law report as “good for the public in general and the legal circle, as it will enrich our jurisprudence”.
However, the ceremony was not all praise for EFCC. Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, in a goodwill speech, said he would prefer less drama and celebration of the arrests of suspects, and more of real prosecution and convictions in courts.
On 13 June, a Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Donatus Okorowo granted bail to the embattled former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Oladimeji Bankole, in an initial corruption case brought against him last week.
But just moments later, as Bankole was still trying to meet the conditions for his bail, he was re-arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and slammed with fresh charges.
The bail granted to Bankole followed an application to the court, by his counsel last Friday (10 June). In that application, Bankole had urged the court to grant him bail on self recognition as the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives and a holder of the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR).
He had also argued that he had never been tried or convicted for any offence in Nigeria or any other jurisdiction and that his reputation and past record attest to the fact that he would not jump bail if granted one. He had also claimed to be solely responsible for the emotional and material support of his aged parents and other dependants who would suffer if he was denied bail.
After listening to those arguments and also to the objections of the prosecution, the court slated a ruling for 13 June and remanded Bankole in EFCC’s custody pending the ruling.
In deciding to grant bail to Bankole, the court observed that certain paragraphs of the counter affidavits filed by EFCC breached the Evidence Act, in that they failed to disclose the source of their information that Bankole was planning to flee the country to United Kingdom. The court therefore expunged the offending paragraphs from the EFCC’s counter affidavit. It said the anti-graft agency had failed to show cause why Bankole should not be granted bail and therefore granted him bail.
In granting Bankole’s prayer, the judge ruled that the bail is in the sum of five million Naira, with one surety who must own a landed property worth the bail sum within the jurisdiction of the court. He also ruled that the surety is to deposit the title document to the property with the court Registrar for verification as to its authenticity, as well as recent passport size photographs of himself/herself and that of Bankole. The court however stated that Bankole was to be remanded in EFCC custody until he meets the terms of bail.
However, Bankole’s relief at that ruling was short-lived. For soon after that, EFCC operatives again grabbed him for another arraignment on fresh fraud charges.
On the 17 fresh counts filed against Bankole, along with his former deputy, Usman Bayero Nafada, the two men are charged with using the House of Representatives’ accounts with the United Bank for Africa Plc and First Bank of Nigeria Plc to obtain 38 billion naira in loans.
They further accuse Bankole and Nafada of sharing the funds with members of the House of Representatives under dubious expenses and staggering allowances. The charges say over 32 billion naira of the funds were used to “indiscriminately increase the allowances of members of the House of Representatives”, in violation of the Remuneration Package approved for Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission and the Financial Regulations of the Federal Government of Nigeria, 2009.
The last of the charges, Count 17, reads: “That you Dimeji Sabur Bankole and Usman Bayero Nafada, being Principal Officers of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, sometime around May 2011, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, did commit a felony, to wit: theft of the sum of Twelve Billion Naira(N12,000,000,000.00) from House of Representatives’ Overhead Account with the First Bank of Nigeria, Plc, property of the Federal Government of Nigeria, by dishonesestly disbursing the said amount to various accounts of Members of the House of Reps”.
The two men pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The trial judge, Justice Suleiman Belgore, ordered that they be remanded in EFCC custody till Thursday (16 June) when he will hear their applications for bail.
On 12 June, there were conflicting reports over the whereabouts and status of the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Usman Bayero Nafada.
First, at about 4pm, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reported that it had arrested the former deputy speaker. In a statement, the Commission’s head of media and publicity, Mr. Femi Babafemi, said Nafada reported to the commission’s office in Abuja following his invitation and that, after interrogation, he was remanded in its custody. The statement also said he would be arraigned alongside former Speaker Oladimeji Bankole, over alleged N40 billion fraud, on Monday 13 June.
A short while later, however, the EFCC sent out another message saying Nafada had an accident on his way to honour the commission’s invitation. The EFCC’s spokesman, Babafemi, said Nafada was in a hospital under the watch of the commission’s operatives, but would still be arraigned in court on 13 June.
Babafemi’s message to newsmen read: “Information reaching me now indicates that ex-Deputy Speaker Usman Nafada was involved in an accident on his way to honour our invitation. He is said to be receiving treatment in a hospital where EFCC operatives also keep surveillance around him. Please reflect accordingly in your report”.
However, the Abuja-based newspaper, Leadership, reports that it spoke exclusively with Nafada later in the evening, and that the former deputy speaker denied the reports of his arrest and accident. The newspaper quoted him as saying: “No, it is not true; I was never involved in an auto crash or arrested by the EFCC. I am in my house right now”.
Another newspaper, Next234, based in Lagos, reports that it contacted one of Nafada’s former media aides, Hammed Bello, who said he was not aware of the former deputy speaker’s arrest. A third newspaper, The Nation, which also contacted Bello, quotes him as saying: “It’s true that my boss was at the EFCC today. He has since returned home”. The EFCC, therefore, yet has to clarify whether Nafada has actually been arrested or not.
Whatever is the case, the former deputy speaker seems to be heading into troubled waters. According to EFCC sources, he apparently has two major cases to answer.
First, he might be arraigned before a court in Abuja, alongside former Speaker Bankole, on charges of illegal procurement of about N40 billion loan and misappropriation of same. Bankole, who was arrested on 5 June, had earlier been slammed with a 16-count charge. He was denied bail last Friday (10 June) and was remanded in the EFCC’s custody.
Secondly, Nafada will be quizzed over another loan of N12billion allegedly obtained from First Bank of Nigeria Plc, just three days before he and Bankole ended their tenure on 3 June 2011.
On 5 May, the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives (Lower Parliament), Hon Oladimeji Bankole, was arrested by officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja.
Mr Bankole, the fourth highest ranking official of the Federal Government, was apprehended at his residence in the high-brow Asokoro district of Abuja, at about 8pm. He was subsequently taken into EFCC custody.
According to the EFCC, Bankole whose tenure as presiding officer of the House ended on Friday 3 June, had been wanted over several alleged financial misdeeds. Among these are his taking a 10 billion naira (66.7 million USD) personal bank loan, using the House of Representatives’ account as collateral; misappropriation of 9 billion naira (about 60 million USD); and creaming off a handsome take from a 2.3 billion naira (about 15.3 million USD) scheme by which 380 units of Peugeot 407 cars were purchased for House members in 2008.
Local sources said the EFCC operatives had laid siege on Bankole’s house for four hours, but could not arrest him as he still had his security details. However, the standoff is said to have ended after the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS) and the Inspector General of Police, Mr Hafiz Ringim, finally withdrew the security personnel that had been assigned to him by their agencies.
Although Bankole had said he would submit himself to the EFCC on Monday 6 June, the Commission decided to close in on him a day earlier, as it learnt he had concluded plans to flee the country later that night.
A statement signed by the Commission’s spokesman, Femi Babafemi, said that: “An intelligence report … showed that the former speaker was planning to leave Abuja for Lagos on Sunday evening and thereafter flee the country through an illegal route”.
As to how soon Bankole may be arraigned in court, Babafemi reportedly said the former speaker has a lot of issues to clarify with the Commission ”so the issue of his being arraigned before a law court may have to wait for now, until all the investigations are completed by EFCC, which means he may be with us for some time to shed some light on allegations contained in petitions written against him”.
Bankole, 42, whose education included courses at Oxford University, U.K. and Harvard University in the U. S., was elected to the House of Representatives on the ticket of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2003.
His election as Speaker of the House, on 1 November 2007, followed a ruthless power struggle sparked by allegations that his predecessor, Patricia Etteh, had unilaterally authorized a contract of N628m (about 4.8 million USD) for renovation of her official residence, in breach of laid-down regulations. At the peak of that struggle, a Representative, Hon Shuaibu Safana, was floored during a free-for-all fight in the House, and eventually died in hospital on 19 October 2007. The embattled Etteh resigned on 30 October.
However, at its valedictory session last week, Bankole’s House exonerated Etteh of any wrong doing in the 2007 scandal. A triumphant Etteh herself declared: “Let it be put on record that no record or proceeding of this House ever indicted Right Honourable Patricia Etteh”. And then she added in a tone of condescension: “We have the right to educate Nigerians”.
On 21 June 2010, the Chairperson of the EFCC, Mrs Farida Waziri, had described the House of Representatives as “a house of scandals upon scandals”. In the days ahead, many Nigerians will insist on their right to also be educated about all the scandalous allegations over which Hon Bankole has now been caged.
On 15 April, Chief James Ibori, former governor of Delta State, was extradited from the the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the United Kingdom, where he is to face charges involving corruption and money laundering.
According to reports, Ibori was arrested in his Dubai mansion the previous night and taken to an extradition processing center from where he was later flown to the UK.
Ibori, a two-term, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007, has been under investigation in the U.K. for years, following allegations that he stole millions in state funds and deposited in British banks. As part of the investigation, U.K. authorities froze more than $100 million in assets tied to him.
In 2007, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja had accused him of stealing $292 million in state assets. However, he was believed to have been the biggest financial sponsor of Umaru Yar‘Adua‘s presidential campaign that year, and for a while appeared untouchable. A strong supporter of the Yar’Adua government with wide influence in the volatile Niger Delta, he had a cabinet nominee, and even accompanied the President on a state visit abroad.
His arrest and detention in December 2007 marked the beginning of the chain of events that culminated in the removal of the former EFCC boss, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu. On 17 December 2009, a federal court in Asaba, Delta State, struck out 170 charges of money laundering and corruption which the EFCC had filed against him, for lack of evidence. The judge, Marcel Awokulehin, held that the EFCC failed to provide sufficient evidence to support its charges.
In April 2010, he was declared wanted by the EFCC in connection with fresh allegations of a N44 billion fraud while he was the Delta State governor. After evading EFCC arrest for a while, he fled Nigeria, first to Ghana, and then to Dubai.
On 13 May 2010, he was arrested in Dubai at the request of the British government and questioned by Interpol. In December, he lost an appeal that would have blocked his extradition to the UK. However, on 31 March this year, he was released from the Dubai prison where he had been held since May 2010, on health grounds. But his UAE lawyer, Ali Masubah, said he could not travel out of Dubai, because he had been slammed a travel ban by a court in Ras al Khaimah (the UAE’s most picturesque emirate), stemming from a contractual property dispute that was still being heard.
Meanwhile, his wife (former Delta State First Lady, Theresa Nkoyo), his sister (Christine Ibori-Ibie), his mistress (Udoamaka Okoronkwo-Onuigbo) and his London lawyer (Bhadresh Gohil) had already been convicted, sentenced and jailed in U.K.
Scotland Yard has confirmed that Ibori has arrived in Heathrow Airport with a police escort and is now in custody in west London. In Abuja, EFCC spokesman Femi Babafemi says the arrest should serve as “a warning to others who do everything to slow down the wheel of criminal prosecution in Nigeria”.
On 4 April, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja, issued a two-week ultimatum to all hotel operators whose activities are currently not regulated by relevant regulatory bodies, such as the Nigeria Tourism Development Commission (NTDC), to register with such bodies or face criminal prosecution.
The warning, according to the statement by the Commission, followed its findings that many of the hotels that had failed to provide information about their operations were being used as havens for criminality, especially cyber crime and money laundering.
The statement said: “Investigations by the Commission revealed that over 3,000 hotels across the country are either not registered or regulated by NTDC, or are without signboards, thus making enquiries from relevant regulatory bodies in the course of investigation a near impossibility”.
The statement said that of late, enquiries sent to NTDC for specific information about some hotels have been returned void, a development that hampers investigation of criminal activities involving such hotels or their guests. It said that the Executive Chairperson of the Commission has therefore mandated a team of operatives to comb for such hotels at the expiration of the two weeks ultimatum.
On 15 March, the Commandant General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Dr Ade Abolurin stated that the Corps was not conducting any recruitment exercise and called on the general public to be wary of swindlers. This clarification became necessary, in view of reports that some individuals, masquerading as agents and consultants, have been collecting huge sums of money from desperate applicants, under the pretext that the Corps is discretely conducting a recruitment exercise.
In a statement issued by the NSCDC’s Public Relations Officer, CSC Emmanuel Okeh, the Commandant General made it clear that the Corps had not been given any approval to recruit by the Federal Government and that it could not embark on any recruitment exercise without going through due process.
The statement reads: “The attention of the management has also been drawn to the fake website opened by the fraudsters in the name of NSCDC for the purpose of recruitment and urging applicants logged in and fill the recruitment form.
“The Corps as part of its recruitment prerequisite has never placed emphasis on the sale of forms, nor application through the Internet and the likes. Rather, in its modest way, applicants are enjoined to follow the detailed requirements and advertisements in the dailies by submitting a handwritten application to the nearest local government formation”.
“On this premise, the Corps wishes to state empathetically, that any ambitious and overzealous applicant, who pays money for form, scratch card for Internet or otherwise to any person or group of persons, does it at their own risk as the Corps is not going to be held liable for any act of stupidity”.
“It is an offence to give and to take; therefore, anyone caught, both parties shall be treated in accordance with the ICPC and EFCC law guiding 419, corruption and other related offences. The public is, therefore, advised to report accordingly any person indulging or found in such act, as either agent or racketeer so as not to fall victim of circumstances”.