EFCC Seeks Better protection For Informants

Source: SAINT MUGAGA - thewillnigeria.com

ABUJA, July 07, (THEWILL) - Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri has called for better protection for informants of financial crimes just as she appealed to the National Assembly to take urgent legislative measures to strengthen Nigeria ’s laws against money laundering to avert sanctions from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Waziri who made the call Wednesday at the public hearing organized by the House committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes on the proposed bills on measures to combat terrorism and money laundering (prohibition) bill said many Nigerians with information criminal activities are afraid to reveal it.

In her words, "In other countries, they have laws to protect your informants so that if he is exposed; he does not come to harm. If you give us information, and you are prepared to stand by what you’ve given us, you want to go to court, okay.

"But if you want to be protected, maybe someone, your boss or someone close to you, we need to protect you so that we encourage people to come forward, that is the whistle blowing we are talking about."

The chairman expressed dismay that Nigeria had fallen out of the United Nations’ convention on money laundering because of the observed weakness in her crusade against money laundering.

According to her "Nigeria does not have a comprehensive anti-money laundering law and for that reason has failed to meet the requirements of relevant UN conventions and the FATF nine special recommendations on terrorism and terrorism financing.

"The challenges posed by money laundering, terrorism and terrorism financing have not only impacted negatively on the socio-economic development of Nigeria, but also the political image and standing of the country within the comity of nations.

"The dynamic nature of the criminal world and the continuing menace of these crimes make it imperative for us to continue to review and strengthen our anti-money laundering laws. It is imperative to state that Nigeria was rated Non-Compliant with all nine FATF special recommendations dedicated to the fight against terrorism and terrorist financing," Waziri stated.

Waziri also lamented that the sanctions which existed at the moment in Nigeria against money laundering were too weak pointing out that "sanctions regime provided in the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2004 is not proportionate and dissuasive enough to serve as a dis-incentive to criminal conducts.

"It is imperative to mention that since 2009, Nigeria has been on a targeted review by the FATF on account of the observed weaknesses in our anti-money laundering regime following the 2007 mutual evaluation," she said.

The chairman also confirmed that the sacked President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Alhaji Sani Lulu and his vice, Amanze Uchegbulam will be quizzed by the EFCC on Thursday. Others to face the EFCC are the former NFF Technical Committee, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi and Secretary General, Bolaji Ojo-Oba.

Answering questions on the issue, Waziri said, "Yes I read in the papers just like you and I read in the papers that they were sacked and then we want the management to give us the details of what led to their sack, and we know that there is a lot happening there, and we want to find out what is going on, what actually is going on in that department.

"There has been lots of talk about that department (NFF). Each time there is a game lost… speculations are so many. I received a petition about the appointment of the coach (Lagerback), and I wanted the man who made the appointment to ….he stated that someone asked for bribe we are of the feeling to get that probed. This is also a culmination of so many other issues.

According to the chairman, "We have invited them for Thursday, I just came in I was away, there could be a petition, I am sure there would be and we would look into it.

While declaring the public hearing open, Speaker of the House, Hon. Dimeji Bankole said the passage of the two bills would have greater impact in the area of transparency, probity and accountability adding that "it would also serve as aiding tool to the present government war against terrorism, money laundering and corruption in Nigeria. "

In his remarks, Chairman of the House committee on drugs, narcotics and financial crimes, Hon. Rabeh Nasir assured that the Assets Forfeiture Bill, which was thrown out by the House recently would be repackaged and re-introduced to be passed into law.

He appealed to stakeholders to be patient with the House explaining that the intention was not to out rightly discard the Bill but some mix-up led to abandonment of the proposed law.

"I will like to apologize to you not to be disappointed with us. But I can assure you the Bill will be re-introduced and definitely passed into law."

While welcoming participants to the public hearing, the chairman said both the money laundering and anti-terrorism bill were efforts by the government to fight corruption in the country adding that all Nigerians should be concerned with terrorists acts perpetrated across the country.

A participant at the public hearing and an expert in aviation targeted tourism, Dr. Sunny Joseph Moneke in his presentation called for the autonomy of the proposed anti-corruption agency saying without adequate funding, combating terrorism will be pretty difficult.

He also called for the setting up of an anti-terrorism advisory committee to serve as the intellectual base of the anti-terrorism agency. According to Moneke, apart from funding, a strong intelligence and intellectual base run by thoroughbred professionals was inevitable.