Soni Daniel – Northern Region Editor
The tone of Nigeria’s anti-corruption war changed dramatically yesterday when the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, disclosed that corrupt and influential Nigerians had turned their attention from Europe and American but were stashing their loot in African countries considered as safe havens.
Ibrahim Magu made the stunning revelation at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Nigeria’s EFCC and Nigerien High Authority against Corruption and Related Crimes, HALCIA, in Niamey, the country’s capital.
Magu said that unlike in the past when Nigeria’s looters of public treasury took their loot to safe havens in Europe, America and some islands, such elements had now found some African countries more attractive to hide their illicit cash and property.
Magu said: “From available intelligence and our investigations, it has been revealed that looters from Nigeria now go to Ghana, Egypt, Cameroun, South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Niger Republic, Morocco, and Seychelles and so on, to stash their loots. This has led to a sharp increase in the number of Nigerians buying properties in African countries.
“In fact, some corrupt Nigerians even go to the extent of changing their names and acquiring the destination countries’ international passports in collusion with corrupt public officers in their countries of residence in order to hide their identities and evade detection.
But he vowed to turn the heat on the looters until the war against corruption was won by the government and the culprits sent to jail to serve as a deterrent to others.
The MoU, according to the EFCC in Abuja on Friday, is geared towards strengthening collaborative efforts between the Nigerian front row anti-corruption agency and its Niger Republic counterpart.
The signing of the document was the climax of a two-day working visit by the Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu to the West African country.
But Magu begged the Nigerien authorities to help Nigeria confront the growing illicit cash movement along the borders of the two countries by identifying the owners of huge cash owned by some Nigerians in that country’s financial system and sharing the information with the EFCC to enable the agency to determine whether it is part of the proceeds of crime or not.
He also pleaded with them to assist Nigeria by identifying the numerous property owned by Nigerians including the details of the owners in order to enable the commission to ascertain if such Nigerians acquired them with looted funds or proceeds of crime
Other request by the EFCC boss to the Nigerien government included: Stopping moves by persons who plan to move funds during the elections hrough the usual medium to destabilise the political stage in Nigeria, increased clampdown on Nigerians who are involved in cyber crime and handing over their details to Nigeria and assisting the EFCC in the arrest of persons on its ‘Wanted Persons List’ who might have absconded through Niger Republic.
President of HALCIA, Gousmane, said there was no better time than now for EFCC and the agency to sign the MoU for stronger collaboration between Nigeria and The Niger Republic in the fight against corruption.
He said: “We are ready and willing to partner with Nigeria. Nigeria has the experience and the human capacity and with President Muhammadu Buhari who is a renowned anti-corruption icon, we have no choice but to leverage on Nigeria for capacity building in taming the corruption monster,” Gousmane said.
One of the side attractions of the visit was Gousmane’s presentation of a horse as a special gift to Magu.