Femi Falana (SAN), anti-graft crusader and human rights activist, has applauded the performance of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) in the last one year of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari but charged it not to celebrate yet because corruption was doing everything to fight back.
Falana also noted that EFCC still had the challenge of catching and jailing the big fishes and their institutional collaborators before it could beat its chest that it had done well. The anti-graft crusader who admitted that compared with its woeful record of performance in the past, the agency with its record of 160 convictions in one year has put itself in a position of challenge the lack-lustre performance of the Independent Corrupt Practice and related offences Commission which had about 400 cases in court but no conviction.
“In the past one year, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has secured over 160 convictions in respect of cyber crimes, obtaining by false pretext or “419”, fraud, stealing and other cases. By the standard of any legal system that is a record achievement. But the perception out there is that the anti graft agencies are not succeeding because the fat cats have remained largely untouchable. This picture has begun to change. Just recently, a former commissioner in Adamawa state, local government officials in Kogi state and a former DG of NIMASA were convicted and jailed. With the religious application of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 our criminal courts have sped up the trial of criminal exposed persons”, he said.
The senior lawyer charged the EFCC to give necessary support to President Buhari in his campaign to ensure the return of all money looted in the country and stashed in foreign accounts, adding that all the fantastically transparent countries where these funds are kept should in the spirit of transparency and for the general wellbeing of the people of Nigeria, quicken their repatriation.
The human rights advocate commended both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal for their collaboratory performance in ensuring that corruption suspects on trial are not using them as refuge to stall or avoid trials. In his view, this had helped in no small way to speed up trials in line with the new Administration of Justice Procedure.
“Both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal have rejected the clever designs of some accused persons to frustrate their prosecution at the trial courts. The anti graft agencies must therefore team up with the judiciary by ensuring that proper investigations are conducted. The ICPC which has over 400 cases pending in the various state high courts should urgently review them with a view to charging the suspects with money laundering or other federal offences in the federal high court.”
He disclosed that he was in possession of documents, which reveals how some Western firms in connivance with their countries of origin, defrauded Nigeria to the tune of about $100 billion. This, he vowed to hand over to the EFCC. “We have decided to submit to the EFCC, evidence of the country’s hydrocarbons valued at over $100 billion stolen by western companies with the connivance of their government”.