By Brendan Umoren
The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has said that the anti-corruption agency is beaming its searchlight beyond the borders of Nigeria in a bid to track down corrupt politicians who may have diverted looted public funds to neighbouring countries.
He further said that the agency has unearthed the collusion of bank officials and those of non-designated financial institutions, with corrupt politicians in the country, which have brought about an increase in the instances of illicit financial flows into and out of Nigeria.
He said the commission has discovered that corrupt politicians are widening the circles of their corrupt activities by investing looted funds in other African countries, so that in the long run, they can repatriate them to Nigeria.
Magu said the commission’s team recently visited Ghana where they made a staggering and mind-boggling findings about the level of investments being made from illicit funds from Nigeria.
In an address delivered by the acting EFCC chairman at the 127th delegates’ conference of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) holding in Abuja, Magu said the EFCC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Economic and Organised Crime Office in Ghana, the Ghana Financial Intelligence Centre and the Ghana Police (SGMCG) to ensure that it keeps track of illicit inflow and outflow of suspicious funds.
Magu, whose speech was read by Dr. Aminu Gusau, said a similar agreement reached with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is already yielding fruits as the agency has been able to trace several assets illegally kept there.
“What we discovered is no doubt staggering and mind-boggling. Corrupt politicians have widened the circles of their corrupt activities by investing them in other African countries, so that in the long run, they sell them and deploy ways of repatriating them to Nigeria, even in the buildup to the election.
“But, by and by, we are also stepping up our game to combat and nip in the bud, new tactics being deployed to fraudulently divert and misappropriate funds meant for the welfare and good of all Nigerians,” he said.
The EFCC boss said the anti-corruption agency has also realised that the more it spreads its dragnets even beyond the shores of Nigeria, to catch and bring to book those who have corruptly enriched themselves from the commonwealth, the more they are evolving new techniques.
According to Magu, EFCC is adopting several other strategies in carrying out its mandate of ridding Nigeria of corruption.
Among such initiatives, he said, is the engagement with operators of financial institutions, as well as non-financial institutions.
Ahead of the forthcoming general election, the EFCC boss said the commission is monitoring the movement of cash by political parties and politicians to ensure that the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 are strictly adhered to.
He charged the NLC to join forces with the agency to ensure that the electioneering process is not corrupted by moneybags, who have deployed tactics in various guises to buy the votes of the electorate thereby disenfranchising them from carrying out their civic duty.
He said: “We are keenly monitoring the movement of cash in the system, and are awake to our responsibility of ensuring that provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 are strictly adhered to, especially as it relates to election funding, and the now worrisome incidents of vote buying.
“Indeed, we need a new Nigeria! The dream of ensuring a national re-birth and development of the Nigerian economy and the country’s image in the international community is not a day’s affair. We have a collective responsibility in uniting against corruption. With unity of purpose, we shall attain in our lifetime, the future that we desire for the generation yet unborn.
“On our part at the EFCC, I want to assure you and all Nigerians that we shall carry out our mandate continuously by following the rule of law at all times.”