The Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu
By Soni Daniel
Abuja – The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu has warned that as another election cycle approaches, the EFCC will not fold its hands and watch the nation’s commonwealth squandered by corrupt politicians.
Magu gave the warning while presenting a paper at a one-day retreat for 36 state governors and key election stakeholders.
The retreat, with the theme: “Institutionalizing Transparency, Accountability, And Anti-Corruption Issues In The Electoral Process In Nigeria”, was organized by Centre for Values In Leadership, CVL.
Magu, who spoke through Olanipekun Olukoyede, his Chief of Staff, said, “We shall keenly monitor the financial affairs of political parties to ensure that the use of public funds to finance political parties and prosecute campaigns at all levels of government is checked”.
He assured that henceforth, donations to political parties and the identities of the donors will be of massive interest to the Commission going forward.
“To minimize corruption and the use of public funds to fund political parties and finance elections, there is need for greater effectiveness in enforcing the provisions of the various electoral laws in Nigeria especially as it relates to penalties upon breach of their provisions.
“Political parties should be required to keep proper records of all incomes, contributions and expenditure, and to open their books for inspection by relevant security agencies after every electioneering cycle”, Magu said.
He continued; “In addition, politicians prosecuting campaigns must be required to keep proper records of all donations received by them including the identities of the donors; and to turn their books over to relevant security agencies, and to INEC for inspection after every electioneering cycle, including the costs of litigations arising from the elections and the source of funding for the litigations”.
While acknowledging that the work to be done is enormous, he explained that the EFCC cannot do it alone. “We do not have the manpower and other resources to confront this hydra headed monster alone. I implore fellow Nigerians to share credible intelligence with the Commission on the activities of criminal politicians, so that our tasks can be made easier”, he added.
The anti-graft czar commended the Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) for providing a platform to share experiences on the subject of the electoral process in Nigeria and said “my hope is that the politicians here see that the reality of playing outside of the rules is that they become exposed to the consequences as stipulated by the law or to the caprices of their paymasters. Either way, they lose ultimately, the electorate loses and the system falters”.
While taking a retrospective look at the Dasukigate, Magu said “when you consider the fact that the money was disbursed for the purpose of procurement of arms to fight insurgency in the North, then the negative impact of funding elections with stolen government funds becomes real and relatable all at once”.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the Presidential Committee on Review of Arms Procurement on 31 August 2015 with a mandate to investigate the procurement of ammunition to fight against insurgency during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
“The 13-man Committee, which I was a member of, analyzed how funds were transferred to the office of the National Security Adviser and the Nigerian Armed Forces in local and foreign currencies and subsequently disbursed.
“The committee observed that about $2.2 billion was disbursed for the procurement of ammunition to tackle insurgency, yet little or nothing was actually spent for the procurement of the arms for which the funds were disbursed. The committee discovered that failed contracts amounting to about $2,378,939,066.27 and ₦13,729,342,329.87 respectively were awarded by the NSA; who also approved payments in millions of dollars without documentation”, Magu said.
“While all these financial infractions were the order of the day, terrorists were allowed to run amok, students were kidnapped, raped and forcibly conscripted into Boko Haram, schools were closed, communities sacked and burnt down, lives were lost, Nigerians were turned into refugees in their own country, and soldiers were denied necessary equipments with which to confront and crush terrorism”, the EFCC Boss lamented. Adding, “This must never be allowed to happen again in Nigeria”.
According to him, anytime money is diverted by an administration to fund a political campaign, it is money already budgeted for an essential need which will never be met because of heartless and corrupt public officials.
“The money being misappropriated is either from health, security, education, road construction, personnel costs etc; the case of arms procurement by the NSA under President Goodluck Jonathan government is apposite”, he explained.
In his opening remarks, Rasheed Adegbenro, Senior Vice President, CVL, said the forum, which began in Lagos, was meant to sensitize the electorate on the coming elections.
“The preparation for this Forum began in Lagos on September 15, 2018 when CVL organized a 7-kilometre road walk tagged Walk The Talk to sensitize the electorate on the coming elections and encouraging them to collect respective PVCs having previously registered for same. The road walk admonished the electorate not to remain passive but register to vote during the elections. The huge success of the event was followed by special courtesy visits to some stakeholders in Abuja to emphasize and convey high expectation of the public concerning the 2019 polls”, he said.
Also speaking, Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police, who was represented by CP Kenneth Ebrimson, gave assurance that the Nigerian Police Force will ensure that the 2019 elections will be free and fair.
He said, “The Police play a very vital role in any election process. The Nigeria Police Force is ready to ensure that there is free, fair and credible 2019 general election”
The retreat had in attendance, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, a presidential candidate; Euginia Abu, former Executive Director Programmes of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, amongst others.