Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, says that the fear of the reach of the anti-fraud Commission has curbed public officers as well as private Nigerians living abroad from a lot of their known excesses, including booking entire hotels and blocking London streets for loud block parties.
Magu made the disclosure at the second Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit (NDIS) 2019 convened by Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) in collaboration with Nigeria Diaspora and Alumni Network (NIDAN), at the State House Conference, Abuja.
The EFCC boss assured that the Commission was not out to scare the Nigerian diaspora from investing in the country, saying that it exists to instil confidence in investors.
He said the Commission’s cooperation with Interpol and other international security agencies ensure that investments are safe.
According to him, “We have been able to curb excesses of Nigerians with the fear of EFCC. It is no longer business as usual. Nigerians no longer hire an entire hotel and block streets in London. Before now, some governors will hire an entire hotel abroad with public funds and block the streets and throw parties; that no longer happens,” Magu stated.
“We are designed to attract investors, both foreign and direct investment.”
According to the head of Nigeria’s feared anti-corruption agency, there are no more safe havens for stolen funds, thanks to cross-agency cooperation at the regional, continental and international levels.
Magu disclosed that at the ECOWAS level at a summit to be held in South Africa, heads of anti-corruption agencies in the region are going to adopt a protocol that will ensure anywhere you take stolen funds, “we will follow you, retrieve the money and bring you back with the new protocol about to be signed.
“We have a lot of Nigerians who have done things legitimately all over the world and we want them to invest in Nigeria,” Magu said.
“We have a case of someone who collected over N700 million under the guise of real estate from a Nigerian in the diaspora that we are handling. We will do everything to protect your investments in the country.”
Magu further stated the Commission was working with ally agencies to bring sanity to the banks following complains that they were defrauding Western Union Convenience Pay Service customers, which is designed to offer a fast, easy, and convenient way to send cash or check for a wide variety of participating utility companies including electric, gas, cellular, cable, phone, water, and more.
According to him, “Western Union is becoming a problem and we are working to bring sanity into it because some banks are using it to defraud some Nigerians. If you send $2,500 what might get to the receiver might be $1,000. So we are working to bring in sanity.”
Magu said the anti-corruption fight is the business of all as the shame of the activities of fraudsters was rubbing off on everyone.
“You cannot fight corruption alone. Fighting corruption is a divine mandate, we all have the mandate to fight it, all the security agencies and not just the EFCC have the mandate to fight corruption,” he said.
“We have the political will to fight corruption, this is the time to join hands to fight corruption. Like rain, corruption is beating everybody.”
He called on the Nigerians abroad to furnish the Commission with relevant information that will curb the menace, saying, “there is no place you can hide stolen funds in this present administration.
“The disgrace at the airports have increased because of the activities of internet fraudsters. The bottomline is that we must jointly fight corruption.”
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, in his remarks regretted that Nigeria was gradually losing its position due to the activities of some unscrupulous Nigerians.
He commended the organisers of the summit, saying such events would help to erase the negative image and boost investor confidence.
Chairman/CEO Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in her opening remarks said the two-day summit is aimed at creating an avenue for prospective, meaningful and stainable diaspora Investment to be relied upon to boost economic growth in Nigeria.
She assured that the Commission will ensure Nigerians abroad are not ignored, noting that according to World Bank Report, they remitted $26 billion in 2018 alone.
She reiterated that with such remittances, Nigerians in diaspora deserve to vote.
The theme is “Leveraging Diaspora Resources for Economic Growth.”
The summit is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Nigeria Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), and Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).