…The Massive And Well-Orchestrated Looting Of National Treasury Under GMB Was Beyond Mere Corruption — CSLS President, Akinseye-George, SAN
Deji Adebayo, Abuja
The Commission Secretary of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Barr. George Ekpungu, has revealed that the commission has the highest number of inconclusive matters in the world owing to improper documentation and report of an investigation.
Ekpungu made this known while representing the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Abdulkarim Chukkol, at the opening ceremony of a Capacity Building Workshop on the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022, organised in collaboration with the Commission by Center for Socio-Legal Studies in Abuja.
Ekpungu said: “When an investigation is prolonged, government does not benefit, so before you start an investigation, you must ask yourself the purpose of the investigating the matter.
“EFCC has the most inconclusive matters in the world because when you finished an investigation and there is no report that tells the end of it, it is as if nothing was done. We must change the narrative because the nation depends on us to do justice as the biggest investigation agency in economic and financial crimes in the nation,” he concluded.
While delivering his speech, the President of the Center for Socio-Legal Studies, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN, said: “The common foes are the corrupt officials including powerful politicians, politically exposed persons (PEPs) and bureaucrats.
“They are unrelenting in their looting of the national and state treasury. It is now clear that despite the efforts of the ACAs, huge amounts of public assets were systematically looted by highly placed officials in the eight years of the last Administration. Indeed, it has been alleged that what went on under GMB was not mere corruption as we know it, but massive and well-orchestrated looting of the national treasury by highly placed officials.
“Therefore, our Centre believes that the next logical phase of the anti-graft fight must be aggressive recovery of stolen assets and prevention of re-looting of the recovered assets. These are the urgent tasks facing the ACAs. Your job is well cut out.
“Permit me to say a few words on the theme of the Workshop, the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery & Management) Act 2022.
“The purpose of POCA is basically to remove the means and profit from crime. Although the law is not perfect it is one of the most powerful tools we have to combat corruption and financial crimes.
“Greed is what drives criminal behaviors such as trafficking in drugs, human beings or organs, extortion, corruption, abuse of office, economic and financial and other crimes.
“Many criminals do not fear imprisonment especially when their underlings can continue the crimes they orchestrate and they know that their financial gains will be available to them upon their release from prison.
“POCA is aimed at taking away the reward or profit of Criminal activity.
Criminal proceeds are also what sustain criminal organizations and enable corrupt officials to continue to dominate and influence the socio-economic and political system of the country.
“POCA provides the mechanism for taking away the resources that make crime both possible and profitable.
“These and other lofty objectives of the law cannot be realized without adequate knowledge of the law, its potentials,strengths and weaknesses.
“I therefore commend the leadership of the EFCC for sponsoring this initiative.
“This Workshop pulls together investigators, prosecutors, administrators including lawyers and non-lawyers to create awareness about the provisions of POCA, promote a deeper understanding of and improve capacity to use the law. It also creates an opportunity for lawyers and non-lawyers from the different departments of the Commission to interact and speak to one another, improve cooperation, facilitate shared understanding and ultimately enhance personal, official, professional and institutional effectiveness.
The Solicitor-General of the federation, Mrs. B.E Jedy-Agba, represented by DPP of the federation, Barr. M.E. Abubakar commend the EFCC for putting the event together.
She said: “Corruption, financial crimes and other illicit financial activities represent a direct cause of the poverty levels which afflict our citizens, because of its tendency to drain the domestic economy of the needed capital for development.”
The Commandant of EFCC Academy, Mr. Ayo Olowonihi, while addressing participants of the workshop said: “there is an urgent need to dislodge the criminals of their proceeds of crime. It doesn’t matter of the criminal go to jail or not, as long as he/she is made to suffer, go broke & beg for transport fare, that is the ultimate gain.
“We must understand that the goals of these criminals especially those in the public office is to take away our common wealth because government have invested such in their office and they are bent on taking such investment away from us. We must all fight against it.”