The Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC) Abdulrasheed Bawa on Wednesday charged Nigerians to be vigilant and play their part in checking the illicit flow of the nation’s resources out of the country.
Bawa gave the charge in his office while receiving a report on illicit financial flows from a coalition of Nigerian Civil Society Organizations led by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA.
According to him, “it is one thing for properties to be taken to the UAE and the UK, it is another thing that we here in Nigeria are ensuring that you don’t have the opportunity to take them out in the first instance. That is why we want to be proactive in our approach to law enforcement and the fight against corruption in this country.
“And then of course part of our mandate to ensure that proceeds of crime are identified and repatriated for the benefit of all Nigerians. It is not an easy task, it is something that cut across jurisdictions. UK, UAE have their own laws, processes and procedures, but we have a lot of bilateral and multi-lateral agreements that we are signatories to; to discuss about issues of information sharing, investigation as well as repatriation of ill-gotten assets”.
Olanrewaju Suraj Chairman, HEDA who spoke on behalf of the Coalition, said they were in the EFCC headquarters to formally present a report on ‘Fixing Nigeria’s Illicit Financial Flows’, compiled by Professor Gbenga Oduntan of Kent University, in support of the anti-corruption mandate of the EFCC.
Explaining that the group is motivated to “stop the flow of funds out of Nigeria”, Suraj disclosed that the three hundred and sixteen page report was “part of our contribution to your clear determination to go after suspicious assets.”
The anti-graft agency chairman thanked the group for their gesture.
He said, “I want to assure you, that we are going to study the report to add value to those areas where it is within our mandate; we will look at it and ensure that justice is done. The country has been cheated for quite a long time, people saddled with the responsibility of governance in this country have succeeded in doing it selfishly by taking these funds out of the shores of this country.”
The EFCC boss also used the forum to revisit his statement on assets declaration by bankers and the controversies it has stoked in the media. He said it is within the mandate of the commission to demand the asset declaration forms of Nigerians in both private and public sectors in line with extant laws.
“What the EFCC said is that look, come June 1, we will be demanding for copies of declaration of asset form from the bankers. That was what we said; we never said come and declare to us because we have studied the law, we will be demanding and we have the powers and right to demand information from individuals and from organizations,” he said
“All the people that are taking these funds out of the shores of this country are not doing that alone; there are conspirators, engineers helping them, professionals are helping them, accountants and financial institutions are helping them. We are not trying to look at what happened before but we are determined the future will be better”, he added
Members of civil organizations present at the event include Sulaiman Arigbabu, Executive Secretary, HEDA; Professor Gbenga Oduntan, Kent University, UK; Dr. Muhammad Mustapha, Democratic Group; Wale Adeoye,Journalist For Democratic Rights, JODER; Azeez Tajudeen, Help Centre, Osogbo; Nora Effiong, We The People, Rivers State; Ambassador Emeka Ezeigwe. Executive Director, GICAL, Anambra State; Adeleke Aremo, SERAP, and Eze Allysious, PLAYYA.