Buhari’s Anti-corruption War Rages In Nine States As EFCC Recovers $6.55m, €248,340 From 49 Suspects
NNPC, NIMASA, Amnesty under probe
Cash seized by EFCC in 90 days
•$3,902,229 and €248,340 (49 suspects) in MMIA
•$2,198,900 from a suspect at Lagos Airport
•$454, 050 (four suspects) at Aminu Kano Airport
•$99,000 (one suspect) at Azikiwe Airport, Abuja
Detectives are poring through the books of nine states as part of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s anti-corruption war.
Besides, the war seems to be yielding bountiful harvests, going by the performance of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
EFCC has filed 71 high-profile cases in three months.
The commission also seized over $6.555m and €248, 340 from 55 money laundering suspects at the airports in Lagos, Kano and Abuja.
The cash includes $3, 902, 229 and €248, 340 from 49 suspects at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos; $2, 198, 900 ( Lagos Domestic Airport); $454, 050 from four suspects at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano; and $99, 000 from a suspect at the private wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
A former top official of an agency and his mule might be arraigned in court as soon as an ongoing investigation into a $2.1m laundered cash is concluded.
The anti-graft commission said it had established links with its counterpart in Niger Republic on the recent arrest of some Nigerians smuggling hard currency to the Middle East.
The EFCC said it was probing activities of some past government officials in nine states.
Besides, it is investigating the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme, and the National Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
These disclosures are contained in an Executive Brief on the activities of the commission by its Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde. It was exclusively obtained by The Nation.
Part of the brief reads: “Operational activities of the Commission have been stepped up in line with the current policy directive of the President, especially in public corruption related investigations.
”A total of 71 cases were filed in the various state and Federal High Courts between 1st June and 1st September 2015.
“ Only 31 of the cases have been arraigned, as the period coincides with the vacation of the Judges and pockets of labour strikes by some state judicial workers. Some of the high profile arraignments include: Ex-Governor Sule Lamido and two others(adjourned to September 28); former Governor Ikedi Ohakim (adjourned to September 30); and former Governor Murtala Nyako (adjourned to October 21); and ex-Governor Timpreye Sylva with no definite date
The EFCC said the trial of a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Steve Oronsaye, will come up on October 21, but added that it had referred the case to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for “reassessment based on the allegation of bias”.
“Other major public corruption and abuse of cases opened in the last three months include those involving; Akwa Ibom, Kebbi, Enugu, Lagos, Plateau, Benue, Kwara, Katsina and Cross River state governments, as well as Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Niger Delta Amnesty Program, and the National Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA).”
The brief added: “Laundering of crime proceeds through large cash transactions has increased, due in part to the new policy stopping the lodgment of foreign currency into local domiciliary accounts. Arrests and seizures made by the Presidential Committee on Trans-border Cash Movement at the International Airports are transferred to the Commission for further investigation.”
The brief added: “Suspects who either failed to declare or under-declare the currencies would be prosecuted under the Money Laundering Act 2012, as soon as the courts resume from their annual vacation
”The cash sum of $2, 198, 900 belonging to a former Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was intercepted at the Lagos domestic Airport from a mule conveying the money to Abuja on 8th July 2015. The suspects would be arraigned in court at the conclusion of the investigation.”
Regarding the smuggling of currency out of the country to the Middle East, the EFCC said it as in “close” contact with the anti-graft agency in Niger Republic.
The commission added: “We are in close communication with the Nigerien High Authority for Fighting Against Corruption and Related Offences (HALCIA) on recent arrests of Nigerians smuggling large volumes of foreign currency through Niamey Airport to the Middle East.
“We intend to contact the appropriate Authorities in Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Togo and Ghana for intelligence on current bulk cash smuggling trends by Nigerians.”
The EFCC confirmed the arrest of 10 crew members and detention of a vessel for alleged oil theft.
The document added: “ Ten crew members of MV PEACE who were arrested off Lagos Fairway Buoy by the Nigeria Navy Ship BEECROFT with suspected stolen crude oil were arraigned on 22nd July 2015 before Hon. Justice Idris of the Federal High Court Lagos. The trial was adjourned to 22nd September 2015.
“The case of MT EUROPORT, a vessel arrested by the Joint Task Force Operation PULO SHIELD on 15th June 2015 at Furopa Waterways in Bayelsa, will be in court as soon as the forensic report of the product sample is received from the Department of Petroleum Resources. Both vessels are detained in lawful custody.”
On advance Fee Fraud scams, the anti-graft commission said it has returned €20,540 and $6, 500 to some foreigners.
It said: “Although the Commission has drastically reduced the prevalence of rampant advance fee fraud in Nigeria, we continue to convict perpetrators and return their lost money to demonstrate that we have the capacity to provide justice to our local and foreign victims. Internet fraud has impacted our national image negatively.
Such direct cash restitution includes:-
- €10, 540 to a Belgian citizen through the Embassy in Abuja on 2nd September;
- $6, 500 to an American citizen through the Embassy’s Legal Attaché on 19th August; and
- €10, 000 sent by direct bank transfer to a French victim, who is suffering from terminal cancer in June
The brief also highlighted the benefits of President Buhari’s interaction with the international community to anti-graft war in the last three months.
It said: “We received several valuable capacity building assistance from the United States Government through the Department of Justice, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Institute of Peace, Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Other benefactors include; the German Consulate, Spanish Embassy, Interpol Singapore, United Kingdom National Crime Agency etc.
“The trainings were held in Abuja, Lagos, Dakar, Malta, Singapore, United States, Thailand, Spain, the Netherlands, Mauritius & China between June and September 2015.
“The United States Government through the FBI and the Homeland Security Investigations also donated a Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device (FRED workstation) and a currency detection/counting machine to the Commission in August 2015 to further strengthen our technical capacity.