The Independent Corrupt Practises and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) yesterday disclosed that the commission had resolved to intensify surveillance on financial transactions of Nigerians in its fight against corruption.
ICPC chairman, Mr Ekpo Nta made the disclosure, saying that the measure would go a long way in reducing time spent on investigation, as well as in curbing the penchant for corruption by Nigerian politicians, government officials and businessmen.
According to Nta, the renewed surveillance on financial transactions of persons doing business in the country would take the war against corruption to the doorsteps of suspects. He said the measure would not only reduce the time it takes to conclude investigation on suspects, but also increase the chances of their conviction.
“We have cut down investigation time, because we have insisted on doing more of surveillance before striking, so as to reduce time spent on trying to get answers from a suspect.
“With this approach, admission level to corrupt practises is higher, because what we now do is to present to the suspect the evidence we have already discovered,” he said.
Nta revealed that the Asset Tracing and Monitoring Unit of the commission had been enhanced to ensure that the commission’s power on assets’ seizure was exercised. He said persons convicted of corruption would not be allowed to enjoy their stolen wealth after serving their jail terms.
“To every investigation that we do, there is an element of assets tracing and monitoring, because my attitude is that we cannot stop corruption if we do not seize the proceeds of crimes.
“Somebody takes money and builds a house, gets arrested and spends three months in jail or a fine in the alternative and goes back and enjoys the property.
“My new approach is that, since the money cannot be retrieved, I can trace it to the house built, to ensure that the person has no right to enjoy the facility,” the ICPC boss said.
Nta revealed that the commission had since the inception of its present administration ensured that matters involving economic and financial crimes were moved to the EFCC, to avoid the duplication of duties.
The ICPC chairman, who said that cases that are basically administrative in nature are referred to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Public Complaints Commission, added that the commission had published a law report on cases handled by the commission. This, he said, would enlighten the public on the difference between corruption and non-corruption cases. He said the report is to assist judges in their decisions and rulings, adding that the idea is also to address challenges of sending petitions outside the mandate of the commission.
LEADERSHIP learnt that part of the surveillance measure would include close monitoring of the bank accounts and transactions of suspects, as well as keeping tabs on their telephone call log.