Gentlemen of the press,
It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this very important occasion to mark the third year of my being at the helm of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, leading the Commission’s charge against corruption.
It seems like yesterday, when President Muhammadu Buhari, graciously appointed me to Chair the EFCC and preside over the affairs of this very professional institution. You will all remember that I assumed office as the acting Chairman of the EFCC, on November 11, 2015.
For me, it was an auspicious opportunity to contribute my quota to Mr. President’s vision of a corruption-free nation.
The opportunity to fully subscribe to President Buhari’s mantra to “kill corruption before it kills us”, was for me, the highest call to duty – one that required absolute commitment and passion.
Indeed, the task of fighting corruption in Nigeria has never been, is not and can never be an easy one. The battle to make our dear country a place where foreign investors will be confident to invest in is, without doubt, one that must be fought by all Nigerians who love this country, if we are to make any appreciable progress.
Perhaps, it is fair to describe the task of championing the anti-corruption crusade as one of the most difficult jobs in the world, because corruption always fights back viciously on many fronts. I have experienced this first-hand.
Recall the many battles we have fought over the past three years: recall the monumental challenges that the corrupt people and those who aid and abet them have placed on our path; recall that during this period, armed men attacked and strangled a police man on guard duty at my farmhouse.
Recall also that across the country, EFCC offices and officers including operatives, lawyers and media personnel have been physically attacked in the course of the discharge of our duties.
Then also, recall the unprecedented vilification we have endured, for the simple reason that we answered the national call to service.
Notwithstanding all that, we can still say that overall, for us as an anti-graft agency, it has been, so far, so good.
The past three years have been very eventful, and in spite of the obstacles, we have consistently made progress in the areas of convictions, and particularly the recovery of assets stolen from our commonwealth.
In May and June this year, our resolute anti-corruption stance and determination saw us secure the convictions of two former governors, who both bagged 14 years jail terms each. It is on record that such an achievement is unprecedented in the fight against corruption over the last three years.
The EFCC under my leadership also secured the conviction of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), for perverting the course of justice.
CONVICTIONS FROM 2015 – 2018
In the three years that I have been in charge of EFCC, we have secured 703 convictions. The breakdown is as follows: 103 convictions in 2015, 194 convictions in 2016; 189 in 2017 and 217 from January 2018 till date.
ASSETS RECOVERIES FROM 2015- 2018
Ladies and gentlemen, in the past three years, we have set recovery records to the envy of virtually all law enforcement agencies in Africa.
It is on record that about 90% of all recoveries in Nigeria is through the EFCC.
Following court orders which granted our prayers for interim and final forfeiture of looted funds, the recoveries under my watch between November 2015 and today are as follows:
Over N794billion (Seven Hundred and Ninety Four Billion) recovered.
Over $261million (Two Hundred and Sixty One Million,) has been recovered.
The Pounds Sterling recovered stands at 1, 115, 930.47 Pounds (One Million, One Hundred and Fifteen Thousand, Nine Hundred and Thirty Pounds Forty Seven Pence).
The Euros recovered in the period is: 8, 168, 871. 13 Euros (Eight Million, One Hundred and Sixty Eight Thousand, Eight Hundred and Seventy One Euros, Thirteen Euro Cents).
There is also the sum of 86, 500 CFA (Eighty Six Thousand Five Hundred CFA Franc).
Hundreds of properties such as filling stations, petroleum products, land, jewellery, automobiles, real estate, vessels, hospitals, company shares and heavy machinery and broadcast equipment have been seized from corrupt elements between 2015 and 2018.
From 2015 to 2018, 407 mansions were seized, 126 have been forfeited finally and 281 are under interim forfeiture.
Nine filling stations were seized and placed under interim forfeiture.
Lands seized sums up to 98 of which 56 are under interim forfeiture, while 42 have been forfeited finally to the Federal Government.
Two hundred and fifty nine (259) automobiles have been seized, 35 are under interim forfeiture while 224 have been forfeited finally.
A hospital, St. Solomon Health Care Centre located at No. 24, Adeniyi Jones Street, Ikeja, Lagos, has also been forfeited finally. In 2016, 1500 metric tonnes of AGO and 3,035 Metric tonnes of LPFO were forfeited finally.
Also, Base Transceiver Station (BTS) equipments in 36 sites across five Eastern States were forfeited finally on orders of court.
A host of other machinery/equipments have been seized on interim basis, while we have obtained final forfeiture orders in respect of others. Jewellery worth millions of naira have been seized and are under interim forfeiture.
COMPLETION OF THE NEW EFCC HEAD OFFICE BUILDING
Ladies and gentlemen, some of you who have covered the Commission since 2003 would know that one of the most daunting challenges we have been facing in the EFCC is that of office accommodation.
In Abuja, we had our staff scattered over several offices, with the attendant problems of huge rental costs and security of men and sensitive documents and equipment.
On my appointment, I set as one of my goals, ensuring the completion of the new Head Office Complex of the Commission, which had been under construction since 2011.
I made sure that I focused local and international attention on the project and sought help from the Executive and the National Assembly.
I was therefore the happiest person in the world, when President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned this edifice on 15th May, 2018, a world-class and functional architectural masterpiece, the new head office of the EFCC. It was not only Nigeria or Africa that took notice.
In faraway Sri Lanka, during the meeting of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies, the new EFCC head office was described as the world’s best building housing an anti-graft agency.
8TH REGIONAL CONFERENCE OF HEADS OF ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCIES IN COMMONWEALTH AFRICA
Also in May 2018, the EFCC successfully hosted the 8th Commonwealth Regional Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa.
The Conference, which provided a platform for re-jigging the continent’s corruption fight, had in attendance international figures including Thabo Mbeki, former South African president; The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of the Commonwealth.
Also in attendance were former Heads of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd) and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.) and Nigeria’s literary icon and social justice crusader, Professor Wole Soyinka, among several others dignitaries.
Following the success of the conference, and in view of the Commission’s landmark achievements, I was appointed Chairman of the Conference.
CONVOCATION OF NEW EAGLES
Gentlemen of the press, in order to close the gap in the dearth of middle-cadre officers in the Commission, I sought and obtained the approval of Mr. President to engage in massive recruitment exercise across all cadres of the Commission.
The new officers of the Commission, who are in the Detective Superintendent, Detective Inspector and Detective Assistant cadres, were trained with the best of facilities at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.
EXPANSION OF OPERATIONAL BASE
In the last three years, we have vigorously pursued the expansion of our operational offices. In the period, we created four offices to bring our operations closer to the people. The new zonal offices are located in Ibadan, Oyo State; Kaduna, Kaduna State; Benin, Edo State and Uyo in Akwa Ibom State.
In order to intensify the fight against corruption, efforts are being made to secure land for permanent Zonal offices, with varying degrees of positive results.
So far, the Executive Governors of Edo, Gombe and Kaduna States have released large expanses of land for the EFCC Offices in these states. We are at the verge of commissioning two additional offices in Sokoto and Makurdi.
Only recently, the Nasarawa State government magnanimously gave us 50 hectares of land for the construction of the Commission’s Training Institute/Academy.
CREATION OF NEW SECTIONS/UNIT
Fully conscious of the growing sophistication of economic crimes, the existing Operational architecture was reviewed and new units were created to address emerging challenges. The new units created are:
i) The Procurement Fraud Section,
ii) Foreign Exchange Malpractices Investigation Section,
iii) Capital Market and Insurance Fraud Section,
iv) Cyber Crime Section
v) Forensic/Financial Investigation Section
vi) Tax Fraud Section, and
vii) Creative Communications Unit.
The EFCC’s Forensic Directorate has in the period under review, witnessed a dramatic turnaround, placing the unit at par with those of international law enforcement agencies. Indeed, there was a conscientious effort on my part to make the Forensic Directorate a reference point for other sister agencies not only in Nigeria, but across the world.
These efforts have yielded amazing results. I make bold to say that on the African continent, no other law enforcement agency can boast of the facilities that we have at the EFCC.
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATION
During my tenure, based on the rigorous efforts of the EFCC to curb corruption, international law enforcement agencies now have renewed confidence and trust in us.
This is evident in a number of partnerships, understanding and agreements that have aided Nigeria’s anti-corruption fight beyond the shores of this country.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am the first to recognize and acknowledge the fact that notwithstanding our many achievements and successes in the past three years, there is still a lot to be done at the national and international theatres of the war against corruption. Therefore, we will not rest on our oars.
As I have always said, we do not have the monopoly of knowledge, and the fight against corruption should not be left to the EFCC alone.
I am therefore, using this opportunity to again call on all Nigerians – both at home and in the Diaspora, to join hands with the EFCC in this task of fighting corruption.
Once again, let me crave your indulgence to seize this opportunity to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for the opportunity to serve in this capacity, and to reaffirm my commitment to his vision to fight corruption to a standstill.
I also wish to thank Mr. President for providing us with the enabling environment and the political will to see us through the discharge of this onerous assignment.
We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, members of the executive council, the judiciary, members of the National Assembly, other sister law enforcement agencies, the civil society, all other stakeholders and Nigerians in general for their continued support and for believing in us.
I wish to also pay deserved tributes to the patriotic and hardworking officers and men of the EFCC, who are daily making the required sacrifices to ensure that we kill corruption before it kills us.
And to you the media, I say thank you for pitching your tent with us over the years. We owe a lot to your critical support.
I wish to declare in closing, that the war has only just begun against the corrupt and in this war for our lives, there will be no retreat, no surrender!
Thank you for your kind attention.