Contrary to the media reports, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, has clarified that there was no diamond bra among items seized from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, set to be auctioned by the Federal Government.
Bawa made the clarification while participating on programme on a Lagos-based television station on Wednesday monitored in Abuja, declaring that if there was anything of such, he ought to know being the lead investigator who investigated the former minister.
While informing that the government was yet to auction the properties including jewelries seized from the former minister, Bawa said the diamond bra was a social media creation.
“Government has not sold a single property recovered. We are working towards that. You have accused us several times of media trial but I think it is good to be fair to everybody all times.
“This case is a two-way thing, there was nothing like diamond bra; it is just a creation of social media. I can tell you that for free because I am the lead investigator. I am not aware of it.
“If there is something like that I should know because I led the search and all of that. It is one of the things I mentioned to you that is one of the biggest problems we have is our attitude, we need to change for better,” Bawa said.
• Says over N200bn lost to investment scams
The anti-corruption czar said that the issue of investment and employment scam was a huge problem the commission was currently working on, adding that EFCC had received complaints from Nigerians who had lost over N200 billion to the scam.
“This issue of investment scam is something that have have observed and we are working on that. In fact, as of the last briefing when we aggregated all the complaints involving investment scam, as well as employment scam, Nigerians have complained to us to have lost over N200 billion in complaints. It’s a huge problem.
“Ponzi schemes are going on left right centre and Nigerians have to be weary about anybody that is promising you some money doubling interest. How can you invest N500,000 and somebody is promising you N50,000 every month and at the end of that you collect your N500,000 back. What is he doing? What is he into? Is he investing in stock exchange? Why is it that he is the only person among 250 million Nigerians that has that idea to come with this investment idea to bring that kind of return? What they are simply doing is what it is.”
While informing that in some instances the commission has been able to make some recoveries, Bawa urged Nigerians with complaints about investment and employment scams to come forward to lodge their complaibts with EFCC, saying that “we have been working and we are still working tirelessly on all of that in all the commands.
“It was the subject of discussion at our last meeting with all the commanders across all the zonal offices. Anybody that has a complaint, please let him come forward with it.”
• 1,576 convictions secured between Jan-Nov
Speaking on some of the achievements recorded by EFCC since he took over the helm of affairs as its chairman, Bawa informed that the anti-graft agency had been able to secure a total of 1,576 convictions from January to November, 2021, which he described as unprecedented.
He added that over 2,000 arrests were made by the commission, while 122 persons charged to court were discharged and acquitted.
“From January till date, we have arrested nothing less than 2,000 alleged suspected cybercriminals across this country.
“The 3,816 officers of EFCC, I assure you since I came on board as chairman, we have been cooperating, we have been working round the clock to ensure that we solidify our stand in the country as an institution, we are engaging stakeholders, we are collaborating with stakeholders from within and outside the country.
“We are deliberately trying to change some strategies regarding how some of these things are being done.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) one of your colleagues asked me in court and I told her that we have recorded from January to the 4th of November, 2021 unprecedented 1,499 convictions. This morning (Wednesday morning) I received a briefing regarding on number of convictions we secured as at yesterday. The number is 1,576. That is unprecedented number of convictions.
“We are changing the narrative here because I will also want to report that 122 were also discharged and acquitted. Compare that with the success that we have recorded in terms convictions, it shows that we have lost less than 10 per cent.”
He expressed satisfaction with the eight-year imprisonment handed down to the former chairman of the Presidential Pension Task Force, Abdulrasheed Maina, adding that the convict still has another case with the commission in court.
“The subject (Maina) has been convicted and he has been convicted. We are very happy with the judgment. He is going to serve eight years, cummulatively it is about 60 years. Restitution is made to the government and all that.
“We still have another case against him and off course the civil forfeiture procedure is taking place. Our job is to go to court, present our case and at the end of the day the judge will make pronouncement and then we hand over to the people that are supposed to take him into custody.”
Asked why despite being EFCC chairman he still goes to courts to testify against people being prosecuted, Bawa explained that he was duty-bound to testify in such cases as he investigated them before he became chairman.
According to him, “every leader is supposed to lead from the front and you have to lead by example. I have to be there, I have to show that yes it can be done.
“I am a practitioner, the difference is that the chairman is more of a supervisor, a coordinator of how things should be done, should be carried out. But then, before I became the chairman, I have investigated quite a several cases myself. I have cautioned a lot of people, I have witnessed the recording of many statements. I have carried out a lot of investigations from analysis of complaints up to the conclusion of the case and taking the file to the legal department.
“I have to be the one to testify in those cases I was deeply involved. It so happens that I am the chairman and I have to go to the court to testify in those cases I investigated.”
While asserting that Nigerians are so religious to the extent that no country in the world is so religious as Nigeria, Bawa lamented that that has not rubbed off positively on the people to change their character to do the right thing.
“If you spread the map, this country is very religious. No country in this world is as religious as this country. The number of churches, the number of mosques we have, the way we are passionate about religion, that’s supposed to reflect in our character as Nigerians to do the right thing always, to change our attitude, and ensure that in every facet of our lives wherever you find yourself you are doing the right thing.
“This country is rich enough, it is big enough to take care of itself. That is the biggest frustration. Wherever you thought you are going to see some of these things are manifesting. But we are optimistic. Things are changing in this country. Opportunities are being blocked to do some of these things and people are talking.
“On our part, we are trying to engage religious bodies to ensure they preach some of these problems of anti-corruption to the extent that people will realise that we have this collective responsibility to ensure that the right thing is done for the betterment of all.”
Source Nigerian Tribune