Friday 27 May 2016

My Goodwill Message to the EFCC - Lawyer & Activist, Femi Falana Writes

Popular Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, who is a senior advocate of Nigeria, has written an open message to the officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). 

Femi Falana (SAN)
When the EFCC took off in 2004, it was able to prevent the corrupt criminal suspects from frustrating their prosecution. Unfortunately, the EFCC was taken over by powerful criminal suspects in connivance with a former Attorney-General of the Federation and an ex-Inspector-General of Police. While pretending to fight corruption under the rule of law, the vagabonds in power were able to suspend the trial of a few public officers who had criminally diverted over N2 trillion. Having taken over the criminal justice system they made sure that once a big man or woman was admitted to bail the defence counsel engaged in dilatory tactics to wear out the court and the prosecutors.
In the past one year, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has secured over 160 convictions in respect of cyber crimes, obtaining by false pretences or "419", fraud, stealing and other cases. By the standard of any legal system, that is a record achievement. But the perception out there is that the anti-graft agencies are not succeeding because the fat cats have remained largely untouchable. The picture has begun to change. Just recently, a former commissioner in Adamawa state, local government officials in Kogi state and a former DG of NIMASA were convicted and jailed. With the religious application of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 our criminal courts have sped up the trial of criminal exposed persons.
To block the movement of stolen funds locally and internationally the federal high court has granted Mareva injunctions and other preservative orders. To aid investigation and prevent well-connected people from tampering with the investigation of serious cases magistrate courts have been granting detention orders of suspects.
Both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal have rejected the clever designs of some accused persons to frustrate their prosecution at the trial courts. The anti-graft agencies must, therefore, team up with the judiciary by ensuring that proper investigations are conducted. The ICPC, which has over 400 cases pending in the various state high courts, should urgently review them with a view to charging the suspects with money laundering or other federal offences in the federal high court.
Those who have stolen the country dry and violated the human rights of the masses in the process will no longer be allowed to invoke the rule of law to hide their loot. It is high time the EFCC paid attention to the looting of the commonwealth by foreign companies and governments. Admittedly, the members of the ruling class in Nigeria are "fantastically corrupt" the EFCC must join President Buhari to demand a return of the huge sums of money hidden in the vaults of banks and invested in real estates of western countries. We have decided to submit to the EFCC evidence of the country's hydrocarbons valued at over $100 billion stolen by western companies with the connivance of their governments.
Finally, the recovery of the looted wealth of the nation for which the EFCC is fully dedicated is a popular cause. It is supported by all our people. 
However, the powerful beneficiaries of corruption are fighting back in a ferocious way. But they cannot win the battle because there is no hiding place for them any longer

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