The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has blocked the accounts of a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, and others implicated in the $15billion arms deals.
The Post No Bill (PNB) measure might remain in force until when either the fate of all those affected has been determined or after an agreement has been sealed on plea bargain.
The suspects, who are still groaning over the blockage, have been begging the anti-graft agency for reprieve.
According to investigation by our correspondent, some of those affected include ex-Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; ex-Chiefs of Air Staff, Air Marshals Adesola Amosu and Mohammed Dikko Umar; ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; ex-Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro; ex-Governor Attahiru Bafarawa; ex-Minister of Finance, Bashir Yuguda; Governor Ayodele Fayose; ex-Deputy Governor Iyiola Omisore; top former military chiefs; more than 30 companies and others.
It was gathered that the EFCC has secured the freezing injunction on the foreign accounts of a few others under investigation.
It was learnt that the EFCC took the step in line with Section 34 (1) of the EFCC Act 2004.
The section says: “The Chairman of the commission or any officer authorized by him may, if satisfied that the money in the account of a person is made through the commission of an offence under this Act or any enactment specified under Section 6(2) (a)-(f) of this Act, apply to the court ex-parte for power to issue or instruct a bank examiner or such other appropriate authority to freeze the account.”
A reliable source in the EFCC, who spoke in confidence, said: “We have blocked or frozen the accounts of most of the suspects implicated in the $15billion arms deals, including a serving governor.
“Some of them have gone to court to challenge the action of the EFCC, but they have lost out because we are empowered by the law to do so.
“If all these suspects are allowed access to their accounts, loot recovery will be difficult because they would have cleared all the funds in their accounts.
“It is a temporary measure because their funds are still intact in banks. Once they are set free by the court, they will have their money back. So, they have nothing to lose at all.
“The blockage of the accounts is not peculiar to our jurisdiction at all. Go and find out the situation in other countries too.”
Asked when the PNB might be lifted, the source added: “As soon as when either investigation or trial is completed.
“It might interest you that we have de-frozen accounts of some accomplices, associates or relations of some of these suspects who had no case to answer. It is not just a blanket measure.”
One of the suspects, who spoke in confidence, said it had been difficult paying accruing bills.
The suspect said: “The EFCC has blocked or placed PNB on our accounts. We are virtually living from hands to mouth because the sanctions have affected some accounts that are not directly related to the arms cash.
“Some of our children are also stranded abroad because we cannot pay school fees. We need some relief from the EFCC. Let the ban be relaxed so that we can have limited access to some funds.
“Some friends and associates, who have been assisting, are also overstretched. Some are afraid of the EFCC. They don’t want to have any direct financial dealings with us.
“A few of us have offered to go into plea bargain. This development should make the EFCC to have faith in us.
“Those who have opted for trial want the court to treat all cases with speed in order to get over these matters.”
The Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, had, in a statement on June 13, said the anti-graft agency was not being vindictive.
The statement said: “In recent times, a lot of interest has been generated by the action of the commission in freezing the accounts of suspects that were investigated or are currently being investigated. Some commentators have tended to ascribe vindictive motives to this action
“In order to prevent misinformation, it is imperative to explain the reason behind the commission’s actions in this regard.
“Freezing of accounts suspected of being used for commission of financial crimes is a mandatory investigative step backed by law.”