New Telegraph

EFCC Chair Cries Out, Says Persons strategizing  To Steal Unreleased 2024 Budget

...Recovers N60bn, $10m

…Frustrates N14bn attempted fraudulent transfers on Crossover night

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Olanipekun Olukoyede has raised the alarm that some unnamed individuals were perfecting strategies to steal the unreleased 2024 budget.

He decried the pervasive nature of corruption in Nigeria but added that the agency has innovated mechanisms to either stop or minimize the stealing of public funds and other financial and economic crimes.

He spoke as a guest lecturer at the 20th-anniversary lecture of the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resources Centre in Lagos on Saturday.

This is as the Chairman, HEDA. Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju said the NGO was using the same occasion to celebrate its 23 years of positive impacts. He noted that the anti-corruption fight had been challenging but said HEDA was committed to playing its role in ensuring corruption-free Nigeria.

Executive Secretary, HEDA, Mr.Sulaimon Arigbabu called for collaborative efforts to rid Nigeria of corruption.

He lamented that corruption had prevented good governance and retarded national, organizational, and individual growth.

The EFCC Chairman in continuation of his lecture said the task of fighting corruption had been very challenging. It was so stressful that he developed gray hairs and was using glasses after a few months he assumed the headship of the EFCC.

He said within his tenure, the agency has recovered over N60bn and $10m, secured about 700 convictions, received over 5,000 petitions, and approved over 3,000 investigations in less than four months.

He also said that he was able to block the fraudulent transfer of N40bn on December 31 night, 2023.

He also said that it was worrisome that some people protested in favour of an unnamed governor who had ruled a state for eight years and was being interrogated for alleged mismanagement of over N10bn.

He, however, said when the agency enlightened the protesters, they left one after the other.

He said the ministry had beamed its searchlight on many ministries including aviation and works.

He decried the financial laxity in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, such that according to him, people can easily move funds.

He called for more collaboration from the judiciary, the media, and other segments of the society in to anti-graft crusade.

Olukoyede said: “There is a particular case I was handling in a ministry. I was in my church for the crossover service on December 31, incidentally, I was talking with my iPad and my phone is synchronized with my IPAD. Right there I saw people moving money from the federal government treasury to a particular bank. I saw about N14bn in three hours.

“That sent a signal to me that someone was trying to get the money before January 1. Some were trying to play smart so that the unused money that should be sent back could be diverted. This happened at 11,15pm on 31 December.

“Somebody was sitting in his or her house moving money from an office when the office was supposed to have closed. Right there, I had to step down from where I was and decided to call the MD and freeze that particular account that night.

“We are actually sitting on the keg of gunpowder in this country. All those people who were indicted in that matter, none of them were more than 40 years old. They started stealing billions. It is a serious problem and we must all come together to address it.

“Imagine without an EFCC in Nigeria! Look at the number of offenders of economic and financial crimes that the commission has prosecuted and brought to justice.”

He added: “A governor who had served for eight years and was found to have taken over N10bn and we traced the money directly from the treasury to the Bureau de charge, and to some hands of individuals and we said this is wrong.

“Even though you left there 10 years ago, we found out what the problem is. This man has to be arraigned. For four hours, the entrance to my office was barricaded by the same people in the same state that their resources were plundered. And I said what is going on?

“I had to tell my zonal officer to stand down security and explain to them, give them one or two facts that we have discovered, by the time we explained to them one after the other, they withdrew and disappeared. If you see what we discovered, it is mind-boggling.

“When we set out to investigate, people see it as a fight between EFCC and the rest of us. It should not be so. How much will the EFCC do?

“How much will ICPC do with its staff strength? I have less than 4,800 staff. I am talking of an agency that is serving people who are over 150 million.

“All we have to do is investigate and present the facts before the court. I will not be the one to give judgment. That is where we have collective responsibility. When you see something, you say something.”

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