EFCC Sets Up Team To Investigate Suspected Ill-Gotten Properties

Source: OUR REPORTER. - thewillnigeria.com
PHOTO: EFCC CHAIR, MRS. FARIDA WAZIRI.
PHOTO: EFCC CHAIR, MRS. FARIDA WAZIRI.
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San Francisco, May 25, (THEWILL) - The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has set up a team to investigate properties and assets whose means of acquisition cannot be explained by their owners as part of efforts to intensify the fight against graft and stem the tide of money laundering in the country.

Chairman of the Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri gave the hint on Tuesday May 25, while receiving Senator Smart Adeyemi, who was on a courtesy visit to the EFCC head office in Abuja.

"While we expect the passage of our assets forfeiture bill by the National Assembly, we have decided to make use of Section 7 of the EFCC Establishment Act to go for the assets of the corrupt. As a result, I have just constituted a team that will henceforth go out to identify properties, which means of acquisition cannot be explained by their owners. We promise they will forfeit them to government," Waziri vowed.

Section 7 (1) (b) of EFCC Establishment Act states that the Commission has power to "cause investigation to be conducted into properties of any person if it appears to the Commission that the person’s life style and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income."

Waziri said that the level of corruption in Nigeria coupled with the urgent need to develop the nation deserves that drastic actions be taken to address the menace. "This is why it is expedient for the National Assembly to reconsider and pass our assets forfeiture bill, the freedom of information bill and other pending bills that will aid the fight against corruption in our country. Fighting corruption needs drastic actions and here at EFCC we have been trying to do something," she added.

She bemoaned situations where multi-national firms encourage and deepen corruption in Nigeria through bribes in their bid to win huge contracts in the country.

"Nigeria has suffered a lot in the hands of some of these conglomerates who use the excuse that Nigeria is a corrupt country to perpetuate same by offering bribes before contracts are awarded. Both the givers and receivers are guilty and must answer charges," she said.

Waziri hinted that the scope of investigations into the Siemens bribery scam is being expanded as some past managing directors of Power Holding Company of Nigeria and Nigerian telecommunications, NITEL, will soon be invited for questioning.

In his remarks, Senator Adeyemi, said his visit was to commend the Chairman for her commitment to the onerous task of fighting corruption and to also exchange views with her on issues bordering on good governance and the war against graft.

"I want to say with all sense of responsibility as I have nothing to benefit from EFCC, that the Commission under Farida Waziri is more than ever before, a better anti-corruption agency," Senator Adeyemi said.

He further said that the senate is disturbed by the level of corruption in the country even as he said that he is encouraged by steps taken so far by EFCC. "As our nation is going to be fifty years as an independent nation, it is time to take stock. By October 1, 2010, Nigeria shall be fifty years; you should count yourself privileged that you are part of history to make a turning point for Nigeria. We should not let this opportunity to make history positively to slip away from us," he admonished the EFCC boss.

He promised to contribute his best towards the passage of the asset forfeiture bill and the freedom of information bill, which he said if passed into law, will help to a great extent in the fight against corruption.

The senator lamented a situation where in spite of the abundant natural resources, there is so much unexplained poverty, which he attributed to corruption. "All over the land you see our girls into prostitution and our youths wallowing in joblessness despite our abundant resources. This is because there are many people in government who are not supposed to be there. They loot public treasury with impunity and allow the generality of the people to go suffering."

The former chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, therefore stressed that a sure way of fighting corruption is to vote credible politicians into government. He equally advocated for death penalty or at least life imprisonment for convicts of economic crimes and corruption.