The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal Office, has secured 257 convictions, including those involving politically exposed persons, across various courts in the state in the past year.
The Commission has also recovered the sums of N14, 099,952,688.22, $5, 723, 042 and €31,500.
Muhammed Rabo, Zonal Head of the Lagos Office, who made the disclosure, stated that the convictions as well as the recoveries were recorded between May 2019 and early June, 2020.
Speaking on the ongoing fight against economic and financial crimes and corruption, he further said the Zone had secured forfeiture of 32 properties out of the 61 recovered.
“Also, from May 2019 till date, the Zone has arrested 1,444 suspects , filed 585 cases in various courts and arraigned over 300, including Ismaila Mustapha, also known as Mompha, and his conspirator, Hamza Khoudeih, before a Federal High Court in Lagos allegedly for various criminal offences.
“We also have several ongoing high profile cases before the Federal High Courts, Ikoyi and the State High Court, Ikeja, Lagos, “he said.
Rabo also expressed the resolve of the acting Chairman of Commission, Ibrahim Magu, to continue to tighten the noose around the necks of the corrupt in the society, while also taking the fight to their doorsteps through the instrumentality of the law.
He, therefore, re-iterated the fact that the Zone would not relax its independently launched intensive actions against internet fraudsters, popularly known as Yahoo Yahoo, which began before the celebrated collaborative operation with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, tagged “Operation Rewired” in 2019.
He said: “In fact, we are prepared, more than ever before, for a more robust collaboration with the FBI this year.
“It will be recalled that the collaboration, last year, led to the arrest of many fraudsters in different parts of the state, some of whom are being prosecuted in courts already.”
The Lagos Zonal Head, therefore, warned perpetrators of computer-related frauds to desist from the undisciplined acts, saying that “the EFCC has not gone to sleep; rather, it has even re-strategized, especially in the face of the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19.”
He also decried the activities of impostors who have been found to be swindling unsuspecting members of the society of their assets and properties.
While sending a warning to perpetrators of this criminal activity, Rabo said: “We are aware, through intelligence gathering, that some unscrupulous elements are in the habit of using the names of prominent citizens to obtain money from unsuspecting members of the society.
“The Commission frowns on this criminal activity.
“Let me state, without any equivocation, that anyone caught in the act should be ready to face the consequences of his or her action before the court of competent jurisdiction.”
Rabo also stated that the Commission, contrary to the erroneous belief in some quarters, was not lagging behind in Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, adding that “ Recently, the Commission handed-over to the Lagos State government a property forfeited by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, to the Federal Government for use as an isolation centre for COVID-19 patients.”
According to him, the six flats of three-bedrooms and a boys’ quarter had been forfeited to the Federal Government, following an order of a Federal High Court in Lagos in 2017.
“This gesture is part of the Commission’s efforts in discharging its own social responsibility towards the fight against the spread of Corona virus.
“The Commission is always committed and ready, alongside its mandate in fighting economic and financial crimes, to also render any essential service that may be required of it in the fight against covid-19, “he said.
He called on Nigerians to continue to support the ongoing anti-graft war and also described the youth as change agents, adding that they must be ready to deploy their talents and ingenuity positively.
“The Commission never pretends or shies away from the fact that enduring success in the fight against economic crimes and corruption can only be achieved when all stakeholders embrace this important fight.
“One critical group of stakeholders is the youth. However, most economic and financial crimes, especially cyber crimes, are committed by young people,” he said.
While emphasising the recognition and strategic position of the youth in the fight against corruption, Rabo said the working collaboration between the Commission and the National Youth Corps Service, NYSC, which culminated in the Commission’s 2019 maiden edition of the Nigerian Youths Walk against corruption was a demonstration of the working partnership and robust collaboration with all relevant stakeholders.
He said: “It, therefore, follows that the youth must not be mere spectators in the anti-graft campaign.”
Rabo also assured relevant stakeholders of the readiness of the Commission for collaboration against the menace of economic and financial crimes in the state, adding that “The EFCC does not have a monopoly of knowledge about the fight against corruption.
Specifically, he described the existing collaboration with the Navy as rewarding, saying it had resulted in the investigation of 195 suspects, 21 vessels and two fibre boats that were taken over from Navy Ship Beecroft within the period under review.
According to him, “ In the year under review, the Lagos Zone remains committed to changing the narrative and stemming the spate of criminal activities in the extractive industry.
“We have successfully secured 45 convictions, forfeiture of the sums of N3.5million cash, five vessels, two fibre boats, 1630 metric tons of AGO, 145000 litres of AGO and 383.5 metric tons of LPFO to the Federal Government.
“So, we always welcome collaborations to effectively tackle the menace.”
Meanwhile, the Lagos Zonal Head emphasized that the Zone had always operated independently of any interference from any quarters.
“We have never been teleguided in anyway. We have never allowed any unnecessary intervention in the discharge of our responsibilities.
“If any, we have always worked in sync with the vision of the leadership of the Commission, which is to conscientiously fight against the evil of corruption,” he said.