Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa has alerted the public to what he described as a “grand plan” to tarnish his image.
Bawa disclosed this Thursday while addressing the State House Press Corps at the Presidential Villa, ĺAbuja.
He said the campaign against him will begin soon. According to the EFCC Chairman, media platforms have been contacted to kick start the move.
Bawa’s outcry came after he had announced at another forum that his life was being threatened.When asked how he felt about the threat to him, he said he was not disturbed.He recalled that every former EFCC faced one sort of threat or another.
The EFCC Chairman praised the anti corruption drive of the current administration which he said was unprecedented. He identified some of the key instruments in the Anti-Corruption efforts to include TSA, IPPIS and BVN which have helped the war.
He gave assurance that the trial of former governors will continue just as he said the case against former Governor, now Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, will begin afresh.
He said “All the known politically exposed cases that you are aware of that are in court are still in court and we are vigorously … going to sustain their prosecution.
“Yesterday (Wednesday), you have all reported it, we succeeded in securing the convictions of an ex-bank MD, Francis Atuche, he was sentencedd to six years imprisonment on all 21 out of the 27 count charges, of course it is to run con-concurrently, it involves about N27 billion. We have been prosecuting that
Matter from the 16th of October 2009, judgement was only given yesterday. We are determined to continue to prosecute no matter how long it takes and no matter the amount of resources that is involved. And that is why those of us in law Enforcement say it time and time again, there is no budget in law enforcement because you never can tell where it will take you, it can take you up to the six continents and back and you have to prove your case beyond all reasonable doubts. So also in the case of prosecution, it can take one, two or several years.
“The case of Air Marshal Adesola Amosu is on going, Ibrahim Shema, Adebayo Alao-Akala, Ikedi Ohakim, Muazu Aliyu, Orji Uzor Kalu, we are going to prosecute him again all over after 12 years.
Others are Olajide Omokore, former MD Intercontinental bank, Erasmus Akingbola, ex GMD NNPC Andrew Yakubu, ex-judge Rita Ofili-Afumogobia, Femi Thomas ex-ED NHIS, Babachir Lawal, former SGF.”
Reviewing his 100 days in office, Bawa said some remarkable changes have been been introduced including agency restructuring, policy development, digitisation of EFCC process among others.
He announced that within the period some funds have also been recovered in various currencies including,Naira,USD Dollar,Pound Sterling,Euros, Japanese Yen, and Canadian Dollar.
The EFCC chairman equally expressed concern over the rising wave of Internet fraud involving the youth.
He said, “The rising increase of internet fraud is a huge problem. From January to 10th of June 2021, we arrested 1,502 internet fraudsters across the country. On Monday that the court resumed, we attempted to file close to about 800 cases of internet fraud. It is a serious problem and we are working tirelessly towards curtailing it. We are working with states government that we have identified to be more vulnerable to this. It is something parents, elders, institutions should be talking to one another, it is tarnishing the image of this country.
“They are doing it on a daily basis, they see it as another way of getting another income which is worrisome to us. The chunk of those doing this are young boys of between 25 and 34, in their active live. Coincidentally, I am one of them, being a young man, people from my constituency are the ones doing this and we will continue to talk to them.
“The commission is focused on these cyber criminals and will continue to carry out enlightenment, carry their fight to their enclave and collaborating with our partners particularly the media. We need your assistance here.
“We are building a tactical center that will solely deal on this issue of cybercrime.
“We have prosecuted a number of people within this period, secured 185 convictions and you are aware that for two months the courts have been on strike, we have filed 367 cases and as I said within this week, we are going to file 800 cases in court on public corruption as well as cybercrime.
Why EFCC is tracking real estate
The anti- graft agency boss said he is paying attention to real estate.According to him, “A lot of proceeds of crime are being laundered in real estate and with cash whether the proceeds of crime comes from terrorism, kidnapping , public sector and private sector corruption. They are using it to buy. One of the problems that we have, that we have identified has to do with activities of bureaux de change for instance.
“Every week the Central Bank of Nigeria is giving out close to about 100million dollars to about 5,000 BDCs and we have identified some companies are out there in the hall where they will be buying your 10,000 dollars that you are collecting to have it bulk to sell. And then people are using this. You can carry one million dollars and go and buy. People are willing to sell and to let go there properties. It’s a huge problem that we need to address.
“I know that that is why the problem is there. If it is through the financial institutions, there can be records to be seen but it is cash, cash, cash.
He added, “Billions and billions of naira are being used for laundering in real estate. Let me give you an example. I just told you that 37. 5million dollars was used in acquiring a property, 55million dollars was used in acquiring Avic Towers in Lagos by …. So, you need to really sit down and determine what it is. Even here, we have to be very careful because, there is the difference between purchase value and the current market value. The chances are that even the purchase value was inflated because the man does not care. My brother here said that a kidnapper used N200million to buy a property. It is on a daily occurrence. Market value of houses has not crashed in this country. They are going up. Estates are cropping up in Abuja left, right , centre every day. There are estates in this country that are sold off-plan, sold and paid for. So, it is a huge problem that we need to work with the media to unearth this issue. On our part, we are vigorously going after that, after the real estates particularly in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harourt. That is an avenue that we have identified as an area where they are hiding money.”
When asked to state how many properties have been seized by the EFCC for money laundering, he replied: “Seizure of property is an act of investigation. When you identify a property and you seize it, it is different from when you have obtained an interim forfeiture and of course, final forfeiture. So, it will not be tidy for me to tell you properties that we seized because it is still under that area of investigation.
Speaking on corruption and assets recovery, he said, “Let me use this opportunity to clarify issues. There are a number of recoveries that the EFCC has made over the years but is not all recoveries made that belongs to the Federal Government. We have made recoveries for victims of criminals and they can be individuals, local government, state government, federal government, corporate entities whether in Nigeria or outside Nigeria. There are also recoveries that are indirect recoveries. Just a couple of weeks back, we recovered $100 million for the Nigeria Ports Authority but the monies were paid into the account of NPA but through our efforts. Am I not going to record that we have recovered such an amount for NPA? Are you going to see it in the EFCC recovered account with the CBN? No.
There are recoveries that are made directly into the EFCC account. It is through systems and processes, there is Department of asset forfeiture and recovery management department in EFCC responsible for collating all the data regarding recovered assets, assets on interest forfeiture and assets on final forfeiture as well as their location and of course their management.
According to him, “The vision that is rapidly taking place in the EFCC today, is that of a world class, responsive and responsible law enforcement agency, with consideration of professionalism, integrity, transparency and accountability. The new EFCC is harnessing the skills of well trained and motivated workforce, leveraging on the support of every stakeholder both at home and abroad to deliver on the vision of a Nigeria free of all forces of economic and financial crimes.
“Nigeria is the only country we have, we are the ones to salvage it and of course we need the support of everyone home and abroad, please don’t cross the line. Please remember that if you are not one of us that want to take Nigeria to its promise land, the EFCC will get you anywhere, anytime.”