Osita Chidoka writes open letter to new EFCC Chairman

…secures 2210 convictions in 8 months, moves to clear forex market of speculators

Soni Daniel, Abuja

As corruption continues to stare the nation in its face, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, has vowed to pursue the arrest and prosecution of crooked elements in the country with more determination and zeal than ever.

But in doing so, Bawa has pleaded with Nigerian media to cooperate with the anti-graft agency in exposing and shaming corrupt elements in the country rather than celebrate the corrupt in the land.

The EFCC Chief Executive Officer made the remark at a workshop the agency organized for journalists covering economic and financial crimes in Abuja on Thursday.

The chairman also boasted that the commission had been able to rid the foreign currency market of speculators who caused artificial scarcity of Dollars in the country and serious setback to the economy.

According to him, the anti-graft agency was responsible for forcing the exchange rate of the Dollar from over N710 the prevailing rate but did not give the exact figure.

He promised to however go after currency speculators and allow the nation’s currency to be determined by marker forces and not crooked speculators.

Bawa, who acknowledged the positive roles so far played by journalists in the war against corruption, pleaded with them to continue to put the interest of the nation above all other consideration while reporting on the agency’s activities.

He said the active cooperation and support by the media has helped the agency in tackling graft in the country more than ever before and announced that between January and August 5, 2022, EFCC secured no fewer than 2210 convictions.

Bawa explained that the figure was just ten convictions short of the total number of convictions secured in the whole of 2021.

The chairman said: “As a worthy, dependable and reliable ally, I want to use this opportunity to further urge media practitioners to put the interest of our country at heart, particularly as it relates to a conscientious effort not to celebrate the corrupt in our midst, but to expose them on the pages of your newspapers, screens of television or our various online platforms.

The war against corruption is a worthy fight for the soul of Nigeria, and for the future generation; it should not be left to the EFCC alone. Nevertheless, there are issues in the media profiling of the commission that are less than desirable.

“As watchdog of society, you must be mindful that your reportage is a mirror that shapes global perception of our institutions and nation. It logically follows that this sacred duty is one that must be discharged with a lot of responsibility and, of course, patriotism.

“Some of you will recall that at the end of 2021, the commission announced that it recorded a total of 2220 convictions. I am pleased to inform you that we are poised to improve on that figure as the record of convictions as of August 5, 2022 was 2210.

However, one achievement which most of you may not easily recognise is the impact which EFCC’s intervention in the forex market has had on the value of the Naira.  From well over N710 to the Dollar, following the commission’s intervention, the Naira has appreciated significantly against the Dollar in the Parallel market, and we are not relenting in our efforts to check harmful speculative activities in the sector.

“I urge you to also beam your searchlights on this area as it is in our collective interest to have a national currency whose value is not subject to the whims of crooked speculators,” Bawa pleaded.

The Head of Legal and Prosecution Department of the commission, Sylvester Tahir, enumerated factors militating the smooth arrest, prosecution and conviction of corrupt persons in the country and called for a change of attitude and legal direction.

Tahir said the unwillingness of persons and institutions that are saddled with the task of furnishing the EFCC with relevant information to aid the prosecution of corrupt persons, non-cooperation of prosecution witnesses, the quality of evidence gathered at the investigation stage, the transparency and fairness of presiding judges in trial and gaps in laws guiding prosecution combine to work against the success of prosecution.

Tahir therefore called for the amendment to both the Evidence Act, the Administration of Criminal Justice Acts to accommodate the technological advancement and challenges of contemporary times.

The Legal practitioner also called for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to remove the constraints militating against the enforcement of economic and financial crimes to balance the rights of citizens against those of the state and victims.

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