Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Forty eight suspected internet fraudsters and other financial criminals have been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) between January this year and now, the EFCC has stated.
Head of Operation, EFCC, Makurdi Zonal Office, Johnson Babalola, who disclosed this to reporters in Makurdi on Thursday, said of this number 13 were currently facing prosecution, with three already convicted.
Babalola lamented the increasing spate of Internet fraud, especially among young Nigerians, stressing that such actions are tarnishing the integrity and credibility of Nigerians and Nigeria among the comity of nations.
“It is a matter of common knowledge that Nigeria has been in the news of recent. We are also aware that the FBI list of fraudsters is under investigation and the substantial chunk of those that are on the list are Nigerians, and because of the strategic partnership and professional collaboration that we have with the FBI… the issues are taken care of,” Babalola said.
“One of the reasons why of recent we have been hearing reports from different angles about these activities is because of the issues we are handling with the FBI; even in this zone, we are monitoring that list; we are monitoring the names on that list.
“But even before that list (came out), we are all aware that the Commission as a whole had embarked on an intensive manhunt for internet fraudsters called ‘yahoo yahoo.’ This is not even an exception, during the period under review, that is, between January and now, we embarked on an intensive investigation which has led to the arrest of 48 suspects; 13 of these suspects are being prosecuted, and we have secured the conviction of three.
“We are all aware that the activities of these fraudsters are capable of eroding the credibility of Nigeria and Nigerians and it is busy causing problems for the integrity of our businessmen abroad,” he said.
The EFCC zonal boss stated the importance of collaboration with foreign anti crime agencies such as the FBI and Interpol, among others.
“Recently our chairman was one of the critical stakeholders that met with Interpol in Abuja. It was an Interpol arrangement. Apart from the FBI, we still collaborate with Interpol to rid this country of economic and financial crimes,” Babalola stated.
He continued that the Commission is engaging in multi-sectoral advocacy with organisations and groups, including the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), police, civil society organisations and even petty traders in local markets, noting that the efforts were yielding results.