EFCC probes governor for withdrawing N60b

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A North-Central governor is under probe for allegedly withdrawing N60 billion in cash in six years, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Executive Chairman Abdulrasheed Bawa has confirmed.

The fraud, according to him, was uncovered by the newly-created Department of Intelligence under his administration.

He spoke of plans to update Nigerians on the behind-the-scene investigations bordering on cybercrime and politically exposed persons (PEPs), adding that the agency has secured 1,576 convictions within 11 months.

Bawa’s disclosures were contained in an interview published in EFCC Alert, an in-house journal of the commission.

Although the interview was said to have been granted to Television Continental (TVC), the transcript was published in the magazine.

Only one of the six states in the Northcentral is controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The others are under the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Bawa did not however, disclose the identity of the affected governor.

There were indications that President Muhammadu Buhari has received preliminary report on the governor.

Bawa said: “I can tell you for free that the new Department of Intelligence that we have created is working. They have come up with a lot of intelligence.

“In one of them, a governor in a Northcentral state within the last six years (one individual) has withdrawn over N60 billion in cash.

“We are looking at all of that, and I assure you that at the end of all of our investigations, Nigerians are going to be briefed of what we are doing behind-the-scene on cybercrime, politically exposed persons as well as engaging government agencies to ensure that we have better processes and procedures on how to do government business.”

Bawa, who confirmed that ex-Governor Lucky Igbinedion is still under investigation after the initial conviction, tersely addressed the case.

He added: “I can assure you that we are working (on them). We don’t want to talk about matters that are under investigation.

“Yes, we invited a former governor (Lucky Igbinedion) for interrogation. He was with us for two days and he has been released. Investigation is ongoing, but we are being careful and cautious. So, we won’t be accused of engaging in a media trial.”

On the convictions secured by the agency since he came on board, Bawa said: “From January to November 16, 2021 we have recorded an unprecedented 1,576 convictions; it is an unprecedented number of convictions.

“The highest number of convictions that the Commission secured previously was 1,282 or thereabout. So, we have beaten that record.

“I have said it time and again; no agency of government has contributed to the development of law in Nigeria in the last 10 years than the EFCC.

“We are changing the narrative here, because I will also want to report that 122 were discharged and acquitted.

“Now compare that with the success that we have recorded in terms of convictions. It shows that we lost less than 10 per cent of our cases. That means when you compare by way of measurements, you will see that it is a 90 per cent success rate.

“We are all over the place trying to see that we eradicate economic and financial crime through the court processes and other preventive measures that we have in place.”

On the seizure of a N20 billion bailout funds, which Kogi State Government has disputed as false, Bawa said: “The records are straight. Based on what we told the court, the court agreed with us and the funds were frozen.

“Of course, at the end of the day, the funds have been returned to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the betterment of Nigerians that are to utilise them.

“We have recovered N20 billion from the bailout fund that is given to them. So, that is the record and the evidence is there

“We are not setting out to be engaging with people on the pages of newspapers or press conferences. We are working hard behind the scenes (to eradicate corruption).

“And very soon, Nigerians are going to see some of the things that we are doing.”

Bawa restated EFCC’s determination to uphold the fundamental rights of suspects, adding that all the sting operations on cybercrime suspects, popularly called Yahoo boys, were within the ambit of the law.

He described as unfortunate that some of the operations were misunderstood.

The EFCC chair said: “We are in a world of social media, where any small thing can be magnified (beyond the ordinary).

“It is not in our character [to harass anybody]. That is not what we set out to do. That is not what has happened. From January to date, we have arrested nothing less than 2,000 alleged suspected cybercriminals across the country. And then you have one or two persons complaining. .

“But then, look at the ratio, vis-avis people that were arrested and people that are complaining. Indeed, we look inwards to see where we are wrong, and we correct and address it. Of course, we need to be concerned about the human rights of people.

“It is part of our responsibilities to investigate suspected cybercriminals. All those sting operations that we carried out came as a result of a series of surveillance activities as well as intelligence and information gathered before we moved in.

“In Lagos alone, from January to now, we have carried out in sting several locations, and if only one or two are complaining out of thousands of such sting operations, I think, it is still a pass mark.

“I want to assure you that all of the sting operations that we carried out, we carried them out professionally, within the ambit of the law. We are a law abiding institution and we will continue to be a law-abiding institution.”

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