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The Economic and Financial Crimes Agency (EFCC) claimed to accept recovered about N939.51 billion, amid added funds in adopted currencies aback 2015. However, the abridgement of a assured action of ecology the administering and utilisation of these funds has remained a aloft affair for abounding Nigerians. How can the EFCC be fabricated answerable for recovered funds? AKEEM NAFIU seeks lawyers’ views
One of the anti-graft agencies spearheading the action adjoin bribery of the administering of President Muhammadu Buhari is the Economic and Financial Crimes Agency (EFCC).
It is not in agnosticism that aback birth of Buhari’s administration, the EFCC has fabricated behemothic strides in convalescent funds looted from the nation’s treasury to the coffers of the Federal Government.
These recovered funds active into trillions in both bounded and adopted bill accept been absent to the Federal Government through assorted cloister orders.
Reports adumbrated that the afterward recoveries were fabricated by the EFCC amid 2015 and 2019;
Recoveries in Naira
and N46,534,536.954 (as at August 2019)
Recoveries in Dollars
and $13,458,041(so far in 2019)
Recoveries in Pounds
£873, 278 (2018)
and £4,644,493(so far in 2019)
Recoveries in Euros
and €53,025(so far in 2019)
In the aeon beneath review, about 407 mansions were additionally appear to accept been seized, out of which 126 accept been assuredly absent while 281 are beneath acting forfeiture. 98 accoutrements of acreage were additionally seized, out of which 56 are beneath acting forfeiture, while 42 accept been absent assuredly to the federal government.
The EFCC additionally anchored about 1,636 aesthetics amid 2015 and 2019. Notable amond these were the case and aesthetics of two aloft governors, Joshua Dariye of Plateau State and Rev. Jolly Nyame of Taraba State.
As commendable as all these efforts by the anti-graft bureau are, abounding Nigerians accept bidding apropos about what they perceived as abridgement of accuracy in the administering of the recovered funds by the EFCC.
One of such is the one afresh aloft by a adjudicator of the Federal Aerial Cloister in Lagos, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, while carrying a judgement in one of the damage cases filed afore her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Agency (EFCC).
The judge, in an appointment with a prosecutor of the Economic and Financial Crimes Agency (EFCC), Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, aloft an anxiety over the assurance of assorted funds already absent to the Federal Government aback the alpha of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
She was anxious about the disability of the EFCC’s advocate to accouter the cloister with an anniversary area absent funds accept been kept admitting again demands.
An adumbration that all may not be able-bodied with the administering of the recovered funds had beforehand emerged in February, 2018, aback the Ministry of Finance acknowledged claims by the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Agency (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, that his bureau recovered N739 billion amid 2016 and 2017.
In faulting Magu’s claims, the Ministry of Finance appear that its adding of recovered funds aural the aeon was aloof N91.3 billion.
The N91.3 billion was said to accept additionally included assets beneath final and acting forfeitures and funds recovered in adopted currencies.
Efforts at ensuring cellophane administering of recovered assets and non-conviction-based access to asset accretion led to the access of the Proceeds of Crime (POC) Bill by 8th National Assembly.
The assembly were motivated by the allegation for accuracy in the administering of recovered assets to abstain suspicions about the caretakers of the assets.
One of the aerial credibility of the POC Bill is that it gives allowance for an absolute bureau to administer all recovered assets in a cellophane address which could be acclimated to armamentarium the budget.
President Muhammadu Buhari about withheld his acceptance to the Bill attributable to apropos by anti-graft agencies that the Bill would abate or absolute their admiral on access and administering of recovered assets.
The Presidential Advising Lath Adjoin Bribery (PACAC) headed by Prof. Itsa Sagay (SAN) accept developed guidelines for asset management.
The guidelines were said to accept been fabricated in pursuant of the fulfilment of the United Nations Convention Adjoin Bribery (UNAC) to Nigerians.
A annual active by PACAC’s Communication officer, Aghogho Agbahor, adumbrated that the aim of UNAC is that victim states should authorize bright and cellophane legal, action or authoritative mechanisms to facilitate the accretion and acknowledgment of adulterous assets aback to countries of agent and to administer such assets for antecedence projects for the annual of the bodies whose assets were plundered.
However, the guidelines may abide to abide on cardboard except it is implemented by the Federal Government because PACAC is alone an advising lath after the admiral to accomplish accomplishing of issued guidelines.
Some associates of the wig and clothes accept appropriately bidding anger at the way and address recovered funds are actuality handled by those in charge.
The lawyers, both of close and alien Bar, while speaking on the affair at the weekend, lamented that administering of the funds accept been buried in secrecy.
They appetite the Economic and Financial Crimes Agency (EFCC) to ensure able accounts of the recovered funds are rendered to abstain accidental belief and suspicion by associates of the public.
The attorneys were appropriately ambitious a synergy amid the EFCC and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) for able accountability of the administering of recovered fund.
Speaking on the issue, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Seyi Sowemimo, appetite the EFCC to religiously accumulate to the credo of the law by ensuring that it presents anniversary address about how absent funds are kept and expended to the National Assembly.
He said: “I anticipate it is a accepted affair for Nigerians to apperceive area the absent funds are kept and how they are actuality utilized. The EFCC is by law accepted to annually present a address to the National Assembly about how these recovered funds are kept and expended. I am not acquainted that the anti-graft bureau has religiously complied with this claim of law.
“It is additionally aces of agenda that some bodies accept gone to cloister ambitious explanations about how these funds are managed. I am alike afraid that all these are accident during Buhari’s administering aback bodies apprehend a lot of transparency.
“So, I am appropriately anxious about the actuality that advice apropos these absent funds are alarm or alike non-existent. This will absolutely accord acceleration to suspicion by bodies that recovered looted funds ability accept been relooted by some individuals”.
In his views, Dr. Biodun Layonu (SAN) believed able accountability will be accomplished aback all funds recovered and remitted by the EFCC are fabricated to canyon through the Treasury Single Anniversary (TSA) of the Federal Government.
“Any remittance by the Economic and Financial Crimes Agency (EFCC) charge go into the circumscribed acquirement through the Treasury Single Anniversary (TSA) abnormally if the amount is a assured one. The Appointment of the Accountant General of the Federation or added accordant bureau charge apperceive this and can be absolute through that office”, the cottony said.
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Mr. Hakeem Afolabi, opined that the EFCC should ensure alternate advertisement of recovered funds as able-bodied as area they were kept to accumulate Nigerians beside of all developments.
He said: “We should put a apparatus in abode that can attending into the activities of the EFCC. The National Assembly in the acquittal of its blank action should be able to comedy that role provided there is objectivity and sincerity. EFCC should not be accustomed to see itself as not actuality accountable.
“Furthermore, the EFCC charge be fabricated to broadcast the agreeable of coffer anniversary area such armamentarium is kept for Nigerians to see that in accuracy such money abide in reality”.
A aloft Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Monday Ubani, alleged for an absolute acceptance of all funds said to accept been recovered through the EFCC by the Central Coffer of Nigeria (CBN) for able accountability.
“We allegation to accept absolute acceptance by the Central Coffer of Nigeria that these huge sums are absolutely recovered. They may accept recovered the sums as claimed but we allegation to apperceive area these sums of money are domiciled. They are attainable money and should be handled clearly too”, he said.
A aloft General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mazi Afam Osigwe, advocated for the enactment of a anatomy to administer all funds absent to the Federal Government.
He said: “By law, the EFCC is accepted to present annual address to the National Assembly. Has the anti-graft bureau been accomplishing that? If the acknowledgment is in the affirmative, does the address accommodate a breakdown of funds recovered and area they are kept? How are these funds actuality managed?
“This is allotment of the acumen why some of us accept been clamouring for the enactment of a anatomy to administer these recoveries. Whether funds are briefly or assuredly absent to the Federal Government, there charge be an anniversary for them.
“Nigerians should be anxious about how these absent funds are kept and there should be able anniversary of how they are expended. The aforementioned affair goes for absent acreage and assets. We should additionally apperceive how they are actuality managed, whether they accept been awash off or kept about rotten abroad while action goes on. These are analytical questions that charge be answered in the action adjoin corruption”.
The National President of the Campaign For the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) Mr. Malachy Ugwummadu, asked Nigerians to accomplishment the window provided by the Freedom of Advice (FOI) Act to get the bare facts about how recovered funds are actuality managed.
“With the FOI Act, it’s hardly heard these canicule that such advice are not accessible. The media houses or practitioners should accomplish a absolute appeal for such information. In any case, the agreeable and capacity of the orders and judgements of courts administering acting or final forfeitures are attainable abstracts and accessible.
“Forfeited funds should be ploughed aback to the association and should be acclimated to empower the anemic and accessible through accouterment of amusing casework and supports. Accouterment of basement and conception of enabling ambiance for job conception and basement development”, he said.
To the Editor of Nigerian Weekly Law Reports, Mr. Oluwole Kehinde, no advice on how absent funds are actuality managed should be kept abroad from the public.
He said: “I accept the EFCC said they accept been advantageous into an anniversary domiciled in the CBN. That actuality the case, the money would accept to be appointed by the National Assembly afore it could be spent. Nevertheless, the EFCC is accepted to accomplish abounding acknowledgment to the public.”
A rights activist, Mr. Kabir Akingbolu, accepted that the EFCC should accomplish its books accessible for accordant government agencies like the Central Coffer of Nigeria (CBN).
“It’s a big catechism to all Nigerians. EFCC beneath the enabling Act is not to be run as a one man outfit. It is to advance a accord with the appointment of the Attorney General of the Federation who is to be like a authoritative agency.
“The EFCC care to accomplish its books accessible to accordant agencies of government like the Central Coffer of Nigeria (CBN) and the public, for able accounting system. But the way the organisation is actuality run is not alone aberrant but actively not cellophane abundant to buy public’s confidence.
“As acute as its activities are, the EFCC care to broadcast its accounts annually to accredit the attainable apperceive how abundant has been recovered, from who and for what reason. And amuse remember, this botheration didn’t alpha today but it’s as old as the Agency itself, which acts as admitting it is absolute while it care to as a amount of coercion be beneath the allocation of the Attorney General of the Federation.
“Yes, it has recovered so abundant money and acreage but then, Nigerians acquisition it casual aberrant that accretion of money are alone heard or apparent in the media and annihilation more. The Agency owes Nigeria and Nigerians annual of its activities as it relates to bedeviled funds and acreage and this needs to be done periodically like annual report. This will accord the attainable a faculty of achievement and joy that afterall looters are actuality dealt with or fabricated to anniversary for their loot.
“Anything abbreviate of this will accomplish the bodies to lose aplomb in the commission, about able-bodied packaged or constituted. Because to the people, EFCC as official babysitter of government must, of call be aloft lath like Ceasar’s wife, annihilation abbreviate of this is complete mess,” he said.
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