Former national vice chairman (north east) of the Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Umar Duhu, has criticised the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, for failure to prosecute former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, over corruption allegations.
Duhu told journalists in Yola, Adamawa State, yesterday that the failure to bring Lawal to book for allegedly using money meant for internally-displaced persons (IDPs) to cut grass was an indictment on the commission.
“If people like Babachir are still walking freely on the streets of Abuja, it is questionable what the EFCC is doing about the fight against corruption. Babachir has not been prosecuted, even as President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the head of EFCC to prosecute him,” he lamented.
Duhu further called on the national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, to direct the Adamawa chapter of APC to suspend Babachir from the party and that the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) should expunge him from the party for what he described as anti-party activities.
Meanwhile, Magu has expressed the commission’s determination to intensify efforts towards securing more convictions this year.
“With 312 convictions in 2018, we are strategising to redouble our effort in 2019, as part of our concerted efforts to ensure that the negative narrative of pervasive corruption in the system is changed for the better, and the perception that some persons are above the law remains altered,” he said.
Magu, who was speaking to officers while on a working tour to the Lagos office of the commission yesterday, noted that the EFCC had already secured three convictions in 2019, which he described as a good start.
“The commission shall continue to rid the country of economic and financial crimes and effectively coordinate the domestic efforts of the global fight against money laundering and terrorism financing,” he added.
For Magu, the EFCC remains committed to carrying out its duties “in conformity with best international practice within the ambit of the law.”
While commending the exemplary leadership of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen for the successes recorded in the past year, he stressed that the judiciary remains key to winning the corruption fight.
He said: “Let us have it at the back of our minds that we are only prosecutors; without the support of the judiciary, led by the CJN and other heads of court across jurisdictions, we would not have been able to achieve the much we did in 2018. Therefore, to be able to double that feat in 2019, let us know that we cannot do without the judiciary.”
He sought the unalloyed collaboration of other stakeholders and urged Nigerians to be more dedicated and determined in reducing corruption to the barest minimum.
“Those who stole our commonwealth should know that there is no hiding place for them. A high-tension searchlight is being beamed on them. It is in their interest to surrender because the game is up,” he said.
The three convictions secured in barely three days of the new year include that by Justice D. Z. Senchi of the FCT High Court, Apo, on January 2, of Augustine James and Cyrinus Richard, who were sentenced 14 years without option of fine. They were prosecuted on a six-count amended charge of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence and forgery.
Justice Senchi also convicted Edwin Ogbomwan (aka Thomas Jerry Stars), who was prosecuted by the Advance Fee Fraud Unit of the commission for internet-related fraud and sentenced him two months with an option of N1 million fine.
The convict is also to forfeit his Toyota Camry 2006 model, and iPhone X to the federal government.