The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, has warned looters of the country’s treasury to voluntarily return stolen funds and assets or face prosecution.
Magu, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York, described corruption as “an evil that would not be tolerated.’’
He said: “All of them (looters) should return all the looted funds and join us in the fight against corruption because it is important.
“All of us have a responsibility in the fight against corruption, whether you are corrupt or not.
“But my take is that they should return all the stolen funds and we can see what we can do.’’
The anti-corruption chief, however, warned that if looters decide to remain adamant, the law would catch up with them.
“We would prosecute them, we would get them, no matter how long it would take, we would get them; I’m telling you.
“Corruption is an evil that affects all of us. So we should join hands to eradicate it,” he said.
He also said that there was hope that Africa would win the war against corruption if there was collaboration among the anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies through “timely intelligence.”
Magu further said that the EFCC had been able to collaborate with sister agencies in African countries.
According to him, EFCC mentors many countries in West Africa.
“Recently, we were able to get somebody in Ghana who was a wanted person in Nigeria.
“The collaboration between us and the Ghanaian authorities helped us to get him extradited to Nigeria and the man is going to face the music by going through court processes.
“EFCC has been able to extradite people to the United States of America in our collaboration with even non-African nations like the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) and DOJ (Department of Justice), the UK, Switzerland, Netherlands and Dubai.
“So there are so many collaborations between us and other countries in Africa and around the world,” he said.
According to him, there is a significant reduction in criminal activities in Nigeria because of the zero tolerance for crime.
“In those days you can do things with impunity, but now you have to think twice.
“I think we have made a lot of progress as people are more cautious in going into crimes.
“Some of them enter into plea bargain arrangement with us and it is working.
“For some of them, we apply this issue of non-conviction-based forfeiture.
“If it is money or property that you have but you cannot explain, we take it to court and the court will now look at both sides and they will decide,’’ he said.
Magu, however, said he has personal reservations about plea bargain.
“You don’t do it alone; you have to bring in the courts, the accused persons and the prosecutors.
“I don’t really like it but it is very difficult to get something done. Plea bargain reduces the time and the money spent on prosecution,” he said. (NAN)