The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, Tuesday lamented the widening scourge of corrupt practices pervading the country.
He said that corrupt practices appear to be on the rise in the country despite spirited war being waged against the scourge by President Muhammadu Buhari in the last four years.
Magu admitted that despite determined and stringent fight against graft, “corruption is still rampant (in the country) and, overall, the institutional responses to it are in some instances, weak.’’
The EFCC boss spoke in Abuja at the EFCC-National Judicial Institute (NJI) capacity building workshop for justices and judges.
Magu also noted that the scenario becomes even more worrisome considering the huge achievements made by the anti-graft commission under his watch in the fight against graft in the country.
He noted that from 2017 till date for instance, the convictions profile of the commission has improved dramatically.
According to him, ‘’while the commission secured 190 convictions in 2017, the record for 2018 was 312. From January to October 2019, over 882 convictions have been recorded. This is unprecedented.
‘’The positive trajectory of conviction record is replicated in assets recovery. From 2015 to date several hundreds of billions of naira have been recovered by the Commission.
‘’Furthermore, within the same period several properties, including automobiles, motorcycles, lands, farmlands, housing estate; company shares, ocean-going vessels, petroleum products, plazas, hotels, fuel stations, bank accounts and jewelry were forfeited to the Federal Government by order of court.
‘’While we celebrate these milestones, we must remind ourselves that there is still so much to be done. Corruption is still rampant and, overall, the institutional responses to it are in some instances, weak.’’
Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC)’s Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO), Justice Suleiman Galadima, (rtd) on his own agreed that the fight against corruption and financial crimes had been dogged.
He said, ‘’Going by the summary obtained from courts handling corruption and financial crimes cases from all states, as at September 2019, the Supreme Court has delivered a total of 52 judgements, 88 from all Divisions of the Court of Appeal, 12 by all the divisions of the Federal High Court, 5 from the FCT High Courts, 188 from the state High Courts and 838 judgements have been delivered as per the update report from EFCC.
‘’EFCC has announced this morning that N939.51 billion was recovered in four years, about 1,636 convictions were secured within the same year, while N1.28 trillion cash was recovered between 2009 and 2019.’’
Galadima, a retired justice of the Supreme Court noted that in line with the mandate of his committee, which was divided into three sub-committees, they have since embarked on scheduled visits to various part of the country to interact with the judges and also to perform other oversight functions.
Also in attendance in the opening ceremony of the 2019 Seminar on Economic and Financial Crimes for Judicial Officers held in the National Judicial Institute (NJI) collaboration with the EFCC are the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, NJI Administrator, Justice R.P.I. Bozimo, Justices of the Court of Appeal and Chief Judges of the Federal High Court and state High Courts.
The CJN commended the theme for the three-day workshop, ‘’Contemporary Issues in the Investigation and prosecution of Economic and Financial Crimes – The Way Forward’’, saying it is apt, because corruption has been a perennial bane to sustainable development in Nigeria.
‘’The EFCC, being the body saddled with the responsibility of investigating, preventing, and prosecuting economic and financial crimes in our polity, it rightly deserves the collaboration it has with the judiciary; as the Seminar will further avail us the opportunity of considering the provisions of the laws and regulations relating to same. ‘’Indeed, the EFCC is a worthy collaborator with the Judiciary in the fight against crime and criminality, hence this Seminar,’’ Justice Tanko Muhammad said.