There is no plan to reduce the asset recovery powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has said.
He said the anti-graft agencies would retain their powers to seize assets from corrupt suspects.
Malami made the clarifications in a statement through his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu.
Acting EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu on Thursday claimed there was a plot to amend the agency’s enabling Act to reduce its powers.
He listed eight challenges facing the agency, including sponsorship of plot to amend the EFCC Act.
He said although some corrupt elements were behind the plot to whittle down the powers of EFCC as a way of fighting back, the commission will remain resolute.
He said the EFCC has secured 1, 684 convictions in the last four years with many assets recovered from corrupt elements.
He said asset recovery is key in denying the corrupt the enjoyment of the proceeds of their crimes.
He said the activities of the EFCC have also helped to restore the confidence of international investors in the economy
Magu, who made his position known at Anti-corruption Townhall meeting in Abuja, said all that is needed to fight corruption is “a combination of guts, integrity and determination.”
He said: “For me, this is a moment to share experiences from my four-year tour of duty at the helm of the EFCC, leading the commission’s charge against all forms of corruption in Nigeria.
“It is true that corruption is the greatest problem holding back our country from fulfilling its potentials. It is entrenched in all sectors. But, in the last four years, the EFCC, backed by the political will of President Muhammadu Buhari, has, through a combination of enforcement and preventive measures, proving that this monster can be tamed.
“All that is needed is a combination of guts, integrity and determination.
“Fighting corruption comes with its peculiar challenges. The corrupt are not going to fold their hands while you retrieve what they had stolen. They would fight back. This has come in the form of:
- sponsored media attacks and even violent attacks against operatives of the Commission. My farmhouse in Nasarawa state was attacked;•sponsorship of unwarranted amendment of EFCC laws, to reduce its powers and undermine the effectiveness of the agency; andundermining and distracting the leadership of the commission.
The Acting EFCC chairman spoke on other inhibitions against the anti-graft war.
He said: “The other challenges are: not enough funding support for expanding activities of the commission, especially the huge cost of investigation and prosecution of cases.
On the controversy surrounding the seizure of properties, Magu said: “Asset recovery is key in denying the corrupt the enjoyment of the proceeds of his/her crime.
Notwithstanding, Magu said the EFCC has secured 1, 684 convictions in the last four years with many assets recovered from corrupt elements.
He said: “EFCC does not stop at investigating high profile cases. It has also stepped hard on the pedal to bring several cases to conclusion in court, resulting in numerous convictions of fraudsters.
From January to October this year, the Commission recorded 890 convictions, a record unsurpassed by any agency anywhere in the world.
He listed other gains of the EFCC within his four-year stay in office.
He said: “Activities of the EFCC have helped to restore the confidence of international investors in our economy. The investigation of some controversial cases hitherto
treated as off-limits, has erased the perception of Nigeria as a country that pays lip service to the rule of law.
Magu spoke on the arrest of the internet fraud suspect, Ismaila Mustapha(Mompha) and his Lebanese partner, Hamza Koudeih.