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EFCC to Return ĎAssets Stolen by Govsí

Posted by From Funso Muraina in Akure on 2005/10/12 | Views: 753 |

EFCC to Return ĎAssets Stolen by Govsí

The Economic and Finan-cial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is set to repatriate foreign assets worth $1.7 billion allegedly siphoned out of the country by some serving governors.

The Economic and Finan-cial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is set to repatriate foreign assets worth $1.7 billion allegedly siphoned out of the country by some serving governors.

Chairman of the commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu who made the disclosure in Akure, Ondo State capital, on Tuesday said EFCC will collaborate with some foreign agencies and governments through the use of existing legal framework on Mutual Assistance Treaties (MAT) to fight corruption to a standstill.
He,however, did not disclose the identitities of the governors who were involved, in the stolen money saying his Commission has completed the bulk of the investigations on them while the process of obtaining the required order has reached an advanced stage.

With the on-going investigations and the collaborations with foreign countries through the various Treaties, Mallam Ribadu concluded that " we can therefore safely say there is no more hiding place for the looters of our national treasury who parade themselves as our leaders."

Ribadu, who spoke at a Workshop on understanding and implementing the anti-corruption law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the grassroots, organised by the South-West Legislators Committee on Anti-Corruption Campaign, said there is need for Nigeria to have an effective law on money laundering if the current war against corruption must be won.

Ribadu whose address was read by Seidu Attah, head of EFCC legal department stated that the Commission was able to collaborate with the London Police in the arrest of the Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamie-yeseigha and the Plateu State governor Joshua Dariye before him because Britain has an effective money laundering Law.  Most corruption cases involving money laundering try to hide or transform the nature of the money from its criminal origin into legitimate businesses.

"In this repect, countries which use to act as havens for stolen wealth of developing nations have now changed their attitudes. Most of them have criminalised money laundering as a result of the tragic event of September 11, 2001 in the United States and other form of terrorist activities."There is now a general consensus of the need to have a legal framework to fight money laundering and corruption".  He  singled out the immunity clause of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution which prevented the Heads of the Executive Arms of government from criminal prosecution as the main legal problem the EFCC is currently facing.

According to him, "Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria grants immunity to the President, Vice-President as we'll as Governors and their Deputies. The Commi-ssion attempted to prosecute the Plateau State governor in the Federal Republic of Nigeria v Dariye and others but the Court held that he cannot be prosecuted while in office"

Speaking on the role of the Legislators, Ribadu said that the diversion of public funds into private pockets which the country is witnessing presently would not have been possible if the states legislators are alive to their constitutional responsibilities of checking governors.

He said legislators who are constitutionally saddled with the responsibility of checking the chief executives have abandoned their duties thereby giving room for corruption to thrive at the state level His words "The new trend in corrupt practices at the state level especially by the chief executive of the states call for more pro-active role by the state legislatures in their oversight functions. The traditional pattern of corruption used to be bribery of officials including over invoicing, under-invoicing and inflation of contract. But the situation has degenerated into non execution of contract for which public funds are used to pay contractors and public officers".

Ribadu argued that the most disturbing trend is a situation where allocations to states are spent by the governors without passing through the States Houses of Assembly. Since the EFCC cannot investigate or prosecute a serving governor because of the constitutional immunity, Ribadu said the House of Assembly should help the commission in carrying out that function.

He said section 128(b) specifically impose an obligation on the Houses of Assembly to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of funds appropriated by it. 

Since the anti-corruption crusade of the Obasanjo regime began with the establishment of the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices (and other related offences) Commission (ICPC), Ribadu said the value of properties so far seized from fraudsters is N30 billion. Ribadu, added that funds so far recovered stood at N218 billion, $14.2 billion, CFA 3.4 million and 3.7 billion British Pounds while stating that the Commission has received 2,324 petitions with 2,103 cases under investigation.

He, however stated that "the most important of all achievements of the Commission is the noticeable instilling of the culture of transparency and accountability in key public and private sectors"


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