Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Nigeria's Govs, top politicians under EFCC, UK Police watch

ABUJA — Unknown to many of Nigeria’s serving governors, ministers and other top public figures, who are in the habit of siphoning public funds abroad, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police have been monitoring their movements and are set to expose them to Nigerians and the international community in a short while.
Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, announced the development in Abuja while receiving a top official of the London Metropolitan Police, Mr. Jonathan Benton, who was in his office to share ideas on the ongoing investigation involving the two organisations.
Lamorde said the two agencies were pursuing corruption cases involving top Nigerians politicians who have been discovered to be committing graft in the course of their service to the nation.
According to Lamorde, investigation into the financial activities of some unnamed serving governors, ministers and other top public officials in Nigeria is going on with a view to establishing credible evidence that would lead to inescapable prosecution.
He said the commission, having learnt from the mistake of the past, would not name the affected high profile suspects so as not to put them on the alert but would arrest and charge them to court once the agency was through with investigations.
The chairman, who did not also say how much the affected suspects might have stolen from the country so far, maintained that top officials of the government use proxies, family members and third party companies registered in tax havens to steal public funds thereby making it difficult for them to be tracked and punished for graft.
Lamorde said: “We are pursuing several cases involving top politicians with the Metropolitan Police of London and we are mindful not to talk about them until investigation is concluded.
“We are also reviewing the cases and will soon make them public when we are ready to go to court. We are not in a hurry to name them. Any Nigerian in public office who steals public funds should know that there will be no hiding place.
Probe of serving govs
“Investigation of serving governors is ongoing but we won’t name those involved. Some of them will lose immunity in five months. We don’t want to arrest and release suspects anymore but to be armed with incontrovertible evidence to charge them to court once arrested.”
The chairman said the Metropolitan Police which has been working with the agency for the past 10 years, had helped Nigerian significantly in stemming the tide of corruption by public officials.
The chairman said it was the agency that made it possible for the arrest, trial and imprisonment of former governors DSP Alameyeisegha, Joshua Dariye and James Ibori for corruption.
He said because of the collaboration between the two anti-graft agencies, Nigeria would soon have some assets forfeited from Nigerian public figures returned to the country but did not say how much the country was expecting from the forfeiture.
We are willing to do more work with the EFCC —Met Police
But the London Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector, Jonathan Benton, said while meeting with Lamorde that his organisation was willing to do more work with the EFCC and repatriate Nigeria’s wealth stolen and hidden abroad by its officials.
Benton assured that any stolen fund by Nigerians, which passes through London, seen as the financial capital of Europe, would be traced and repatriated by the organisation as long as they continue to work with the EFCC and Nigeria.
“If we find evidence of financial crimes in UK we will assist Nigeria and the EFCC in repatriating the money,” Benton assured.



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