From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government, yesterday, lamented that financial crimes have hurt the country’s image globally and rob it of foreign direct investment.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who made the disclosure at the inauguration of the Governing Board of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), charged the 23 members to put in their best to combat the hydra-headed monster.
“The unfortunate thing is that we have battled with this internally and in-country, we have successfully exported it out of this country. So, your job and your role would extend beyond the borders of this nation, because it does not only hurt our image as a country, it has deprived us of even direct foreign investment. It has created a doubt as to the sincerity of people doing business with us outside the shores of our country, so we must do everything and you are the ones that are pivoted, assigned the responsibility of creating a new image for Nigeria, and your actions and activities will in no small measure help Nigeria redeem its image.”
While congratulating the chairman and members of the board headed by AbdulRasheed Bawa, Mustapha said their appointment was a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s confidence in their integrity, intellectual abilities and competence to contribute to the realization of the mandate of the Commission.
He noted that the Senate had on October 5, 2021 confirmed the nominations of Secretary of the Commission and Board Members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as sent by Mr. President in accordance with the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004, hence the reason for this inauguration.
“You are, however, required to put in your best to combat financial and economic crimes in the country. The Commission is empowered to prevent, investigate, prosecute and penalise economic and financial crimes and is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of other laws and regulations relating to economic and financial crimes as well as fight terrorism.
“Let me reiterate the fact that Governing Boards are creations of the enabling statutes of the various institutions, with the main responsibility for giving policy direction to management, in order to contribute towards the developmental goals of Government. This presupposes that the Management should be allowed to execute its day-to-day activities without undue interference by the Boards.
“I, therefore, expect that all hands will be on deck to generate robust policy initiatives that will help this administration achieve its fight against corruption and revamp the economy. Similarly, in carrying out your responsibility as Board Members, you must also eschew corruption totally as Government will not hesitate to sanction all infractions,” Mustapha said.
In his remarks, the EFCC boss, Bawa, said the absence of the board for six years had impacted in the commission’s operations.
“The EFCC has been without board for for six years sequel to a series of events that had happened which warranted the non-existence of the board of the EFCC in the last six years. So it is something that gladdens the heart, with me, of course, being a former staff of the EFCC, and now the chairman of the EFCC, that today the EFCC is having a board spearheading the policy direction of this problem that we have, the economic and financial crimes in this country.
“As you have said, Your Excellency, we have a saying at the EFCC that we have one of the most cosmopolitan board, looking at public service in this country, looking at the composition of the fact that all law enforcement, and security organizations in this country are represented on the board as well as other regulatory agencies like NICOMSAT as well as Central Bank of Nigeria.
“So we’re happy for this day. And I want to assure, Your Excellency and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that we’re not unfamiliar with the daunting task before us. We have been doing well. Last year had been a difficult year with COVID-19. But the EFCC has managed to, set a new record in terms of recoveries as well as, you know, convictions.
“Last year alone, Your Excellency, we recorded 2,220 convictions, which is the highest ever recorded within one calendar year by the EFCC. The closest to that was in 2019 when the EFCC recorded only 1,280 convictions. Looking at also the figure that we have lost within the same calendar, we lost 37 cases. And we won 2,220. If you do the math, Your excellency, you will understand that we had 98.54% success rate in court. But with the inauguration of this board,I believe with the wealth of experience that all of us are bringing to the board, we will be able to do better.”
The EFCC assured that the board will deliver on its mandate.
A member of the board, a retired director from DSS with 32 years experience insecurity, Alhaji Kola Adesina, assured that members will deliver on their assignment.