by Azeez Adeniyi
The Senate on Monday urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) officials over alleged laundering of foreign exchange.
Members of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes said this when the Acting Chairman, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu appeared before the lawmakers to defend the 2017 budget.
According to the committee, the EFCC should focus on prevention of financial crimes rather than going after for public officials.
The lawmakers also asked the anti-graft agency to investigate and unravel owners of huge mansions in highbrow areas in the FCT.
Isa Misau, a member of the committee said he was ready to blow the whistle on CBN and NNPC officials.
Misau stated, “I can’t imagine the over $9m recovered from a former GMD (of NNPC). If somebody who left (public) office has such money stashed somewhere, then, you can just make a guess about the other people who have been on the seat.
“Therefore, today, I am giving it as a challenge to the EFCC to go and see what the NNPC or CBN or the finance ministry is doing.
“Look at (the case of) somebody, who left office about five years ago. This is an era of whistle-blowing. I am blowing my whistle: go and check CBN. That is the reason why, today, we have (this) recession. Today, dollar, at the parallel market, is N520. And there are allegations against the CBN; the way they give these dollars.
“This committee is challenging the EFCC to go and look at these records: what is our revenue in dollars? Who are the people collecting these dollars?”
He also said some people were using the foreign exchange scarcity to enrich themselves.
He said, “People now buy these dollars and keep them in their houses. The amount of dollars in Nigeria in cash is more than the amount of dollars in the whole of the USA. If you (EFCC) tell us, we can cooperate with you and tell you (about) the people hiding these monies.
“Go and see unoccupied buildings in Asokoro, Maitama and Wuse 2 (all in Abuja). For over five years, nobody will be there (in the buildings). And EFCC is not looking at these houses. A lot of transactions are taking place with ill-gotten money to the tune of N2bn or N3bn, and somebody will bring the money in cash to buy a house.
“Without digging into these landed properties and knowing their owners, you may end up being only after somebody who just left office, and arresting and detaining them for one week, and they will get bailed. And the business continues.”
According to him, a lot of looters are encouraged by the provision in the law.
Misau added, “We want a situation whereby you will get the cooperation of judges. I see no reason why somebody will take (steal) billions and after two days with the EFCC, they will be granted bail.
“If we need another law that once it has to do with government money, we can keep such person with EFCC for one year; if there are certain laws you want, where you can detain somebody for one year, we are ready.
“Go and check the houses in Maitama, Wuse 2 and Asokoro. How did they (the owners) get the money? Check the directors, who are still serving; they are all billionaires. I can mention more than 30 directors; they are still serving and they are billionaires.
“These are the kinds of things that make up institutional corruption that we have to check. Go and see the procurement officers and permanent secretaries; they give contracts to themselves and inflate contracts.
“If we have to wait for somebody to blow whistle, it will be business as usual and nobody is afraid of it now. I am blowing this whistle about CBN so that any recovery from the CBN, I am the one who blew the whistle; and any recovery from the NNPC, I blew the whistle.”
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