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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Corruption: EFCC moves against Odili, others

Corruption: EFCC moves against Odili, others


ABUJA—The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is set to reopen the trial of high profile politicians whose corruption cases had either been delayed or put in abeyance as a result of court injunctions.

A top management officer of the EFCC told Vanguard, yesterday, that the commission under the leadership of acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, was bent on reopening all the corruption cases involving top politicians, who were shielded by the court through perpetual injunctions that had temporarily tied the hands of the commission from prosecuting them.

Top on the list of those whose cases are to be reopened, is former Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, who secured a perpetual injunction from a Federal judge barring the EFCC from investigating his eight-year tenure over alleged graft.

Justice Ibrahim Buba had granted a perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC from probing graft allegations its operatives levelled against the former governor.

The commission, however, filed an appeal against the ruling, which was described as strange by legal pundits. But the appeal has not made progress since it was instituted over four years ago.

However, the top EFCC operative vowed in an interview with Vanguard that all stumbling blocks to reopening the cases and similar ones would be removed by the Magu administration at EFCC with a view to bringing the former governor to book.

The top operative said that the new Criminal Justice Administration Act of 2015 has removed the stumbling blocks to prosecuting those who looted the nation’s treasury.

The senior management official of the commission said: “Let it be made clear that the EFCC will go after all cases that are deserving of investigation. There is nothing like perpetual injunctions anymore in our criminal administration justice code.

“We have a duty to investigate all cases since we are empowered by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to investigate all such corruption-related cases and that is what we are asked to do.

“We are empowered by Section 15 of the new Criminal Justice Administration Act to investigate all cases irrespective of injunctions. We cannot be stopped,” the official said.

The source confirmed that top officials in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who abused their office by fritting away huge national cash and assets would be summoned to clear the air on why they breached public trust.

Among those slated for questioning are former Minister of Finance & Coordinating Minister of the Economy in the last Administration, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and some former officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, who handled the disbursement of funds to the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA.

Asked when the officials would be summoned, the official said no date had yet been fixed, adding, “I will find out and get back to you.”

In the meantime, the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has established a Procurement Fraud Unit, PFU, to strengthen the fight against corruption in the country.

The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement to Vanguard, last night, that Magu made the disclosure in Abuja yesterday during a meeting with leaders of a coalition of civil society organisations.

Uwujaren said that Magu expressed concern over the increasing rate of procurement fraud and told his guests that the PFU would contribute immensely to the anti-corruption battle when it became operational.

“I am so concerned about procurement fraud. I am thinking of establishing a unit dedicated to procurement fraud. When put in place, it will go a long way in checking corruption,” Magu said.

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