Customs CG ,Lawyers in Media, APBN Visit EFCC



The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Abdulahi Inde Dikko has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to come to the aid of his Service in tackling the rising tide of smuggling in the country. He said this on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 during a courtesy call on the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde at the Headquarters of the Commission in Abuja.

Dikko said smuggling of vehicles should no longer be blamed on innocent buyers but on the dealers. He threatened that Customs officers found harassing motorists over smuggling will henceforth be arrested.

“Innocent people are harassed along the road while driving their vehicles which they bought legitimately from car dealers. The dealers that really smuggled these cars are left displaying the vehicles along the road with impunity. I will like to seek the assistance of the EFCC to attack the disease rather than the symptoms. The person who bought such cars innocently does not deserve the harassment being meted out to him by our officers. Honestly, such harassment is illegal. I have sent a message to officers harassing innocent persons on this issue that they will also be arrested”, he promised.

In his response, Lamorde expressed appreciation to Dikko over his visit and promised stronger inter-agency collaboration and support between the Customs and the EFCC. He commended the Customs boss over visible improvement in revenue collection by his officers across the country and noted the cooperation extended to the Commission by Customs officers at various airports in checking the smuggling of counterfeit financial instruments to Europe and America.

The EFCC boss urged Dikko to be more proactive in making his officers check bulk cash shipment out of the country stressing that the practice was becoming embarrassing. “We have made some few observations of recent, especially in the area of bulk cash shipment out of Nigeria. It is becoming a huge embarrassment for the country. I know that no single security arrangements in the airports can handle such situation. We have to come together in order to handle such embarrassing situation which is the affecting the image of Nigeria”, he said.

Lamorde also urged Dikko to do something drastic about overtime cargo. He explained that there are rising complaints by members of the public about the auction. “The complaints are becoming embarrassing. Letters of allocation people are parading some dated 2007, 2008 and 2009 are quite embarrassing. I think we should form a team to look at where the allocations are coming from. Are the money paid into the coffers of the government? Are the allocations receipted? Or are they forged documents being paraded?”

He suggested the designation of desk officers to handle relations between the two agencies, as their chief executives might be too busy to respond speedily to request for assistance.

Dikko was accompanied on the visit by Mr. Musa Tahir, Assistant Comptroller General, Headquarters; Barrister Mohammed Umar, legal adviser and Joseph Attah, Public Relations Officer.

Also today,the Executive Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde  decried the high rate of connivance of professionals with fraudsters in committing economic crimes in the country. According to him, professionals are always linked to most technical issues involved in many economic crimes the EFCC is investigating. “Most of the corrupt cases we encounter are aided by one professional or another.  In money laundering for example, bankers and accountants are involved, in estate and property- related crimes, quantity surveyors are also involved,” he said.

Lamorde made this observation while receiving a delegation of Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) led its President,  Segun Ajanlekoko on Wednesday May 23rd , 2012 at the Headquarters of the Commission in Abuja. The EFCC helmsman urged the Association to identify bad eggs in its fold and sanction such people, stressing that it was not in all cases that people steal raw cash but in some instances rely on professionals to doctor documents that will aid them in perpetrating corrupt acts.

 

He however reassures the Association of the Commission’s willingness to collaborate with it especially on some of its investigation work that requires professional inputs from any affiliate members of APBN.  Lamorde urged Nigerians to resist the temptation of adopting what he called an ‘I don’t care attitude’ whereby they feel corruption is either the fight of anti-graft agencies or is too big a problem to be tackled by an individual.

In his speech, President of APBN,  Segun Ajanlekoko congratulated  Lamorde on his confirmation as the Chairman of EFCC, and disclosed the visit was an opportunity to stimulate thoughts on issue of mutual interest and professional values towards national development.  He explained that the eradication of corruption as a key component of the government transformation agenda was a task not only for government and its agencies, but for all Nigerians. “The crusade should not be limited to stolen monies but to other corruptive practices.  It should equally cover policies which are endemic and even more dangerous,” he said.

The Association which is made up of twenty-six (26) professional bodies that are chartered and recognized by  Acts of Parliament ,according to its President, was determined to help EFCC in its fight against corruption even as it was concerned that more professionals are being sidelined from using their skills and expertise for nation building.

He called on management of EFCC to avail its staff of several up-coming management trainings and to support the APBN Foundation which is aimed at promoting best practices, good corporate governance and capacity building among corporate and educational entities.

In the same vein, Nigerian Lawyers in the Media, LIM, have called for the strengthening of the EFCC Establishment Act in terms of stiffer punishments for persons convicted over economic and financial crimes. This call was made on Wednesday May 23rd, 2012 by the National Chairman, LIM, Mr. Charles Odenigbo during a courtesy visit to the EFCC Chairman, Mr.  Ibrahim Lamorde in Abuja.

 

According to Odenigbo, the LIM which is an affiliate of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has watched the evolution of the EFCC with interest and believes in the capable hands that are steering affairs of the Commission; and therefore called for greater collaboration between the EFCC and LIM in a bid to rid the nation of economic and financial crimes.  “Those of us senior editors who have watched this Commission over time, believe that whoever ignores the EFCC does so at the risk of this nation as it is only the EFCC that can take us to where are going”, he said.

Odenigbo said that LIM and EFCC could collaborate. He offered for more regular coverage of the Commissions activities, quarterly interactions and a participation of the EFCC in the upcoming NBA Annual Conference.

In response, Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde told the visiting lawyers who are also journalists, that even before the advent of the EFCC; the media fought corruption vehemently and as such should view the EFCC as its ally.

“Before the EFCC was established, if there is any professional group that has fought corruption in this country to almost a standstill it is the media. You have always been in the forefront as the conscience of the society and pointed out the ills of corruption, economic and financial crimes in this country; with some of you paying dearly for that,  even going to prison”, he sai

The EFCC boss called for continued collaboration between the Commission and the media in improving the fight against economic and financial crimes; while also highlighting the challenges the EFCC encounters in prosecuting its cases.

He further called on the visiting Lawyers in the Media not to allow people with “financial muscle” which the Commission is prosecuting to plant frivolous and fictional stories about the EFCC in their media organizations.

He said “I will appeal to you to highlight some of the difficulties and challenges we encounter in court in your reports and make sure that, though as lawyers you have the responsibility to defend an accused person, you should do it responsibly; because these evils of corruption affect all of us. There is no way we can make appreciable progress if people are not punished, and the only avenue of meting out the punishment is through the courts”. Lamorde promised that the EFCC will take advantage of the upcoming NBA Annual Conference through participation, and assured that the doors of the Commission will always be opened to the public.

Other officials of LIM that accompanied Odenigbo on the visit include: Kio-Lawson Theodora, General Secretary;  Igbanoi Jude, Treasurer; Unaduikwu John Austin, Ex-Officio; and Yomi Adeshida.

 

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