The Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Larmorde, has said that the commission and the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police are investigating some serving and former governors, ministers, heads of service of the federation, and federal lawmakers.
Lamorde said that the operatives of the EFCC and the Met Police were investigating the serving and former public office holders for money laundering and looting of public treasury.
The EFCC Chairman made the comment while playing host to the Metropolitan Police Special Crime and Operations Unit led by Detective Chief Inspector Jonathan Benton in Abuja, on Monday.
Lamorde refused to disclose the identities and the total number of the public office holders on the watch list of the commission and the Met Police on the premise that the investigation was jointly carried out by the EFCC and the UK Police
He said the affected current and former public office holders would be arrested and their identities revealed after the commission must have concluded investigation into their cases.
He said, “You are also very much aware that the Metropolitan Police Proceeds of Corruption Unit is the unit that assisted us in the case of DSP Alamieyeseigha in the past, Joshua Dariye, and of course the big one that everybody is aware of, James Ibori, who is currently serving a jail term in the United Kingdom.
“In a few months’ time, there is also going to be a confiscation proceedings in respect of the assets of James Ibori in the United Kingdom which of course we have been working assiduously to make sure it will be successful.
“In respect of some of the new cases we have embarked upon, we are investigating some sitting state governors, some ministers that are serving, also ministers that have left office, some former heads of service of the federation and members of the National Assembly.
“We will never mention names, since it’s a joint investigation that we are doing, and you know unlike what we do here where some of our people here wants sensationalism, that’s not the way it works with them.
“The investigation has to be conducted properly first, it is when the matter is ready to go to court that publicities are given to individual cases; for the time being they are here, we are reviewing those investigations and when we are ready to go to court then names and these cases will be properly mentioned.”
Lamorde said that investigations into the cases against the public office holders would take some time to conclude just like the Ibori case which took up to six to seven years of investigation before he was arraigned in court.
Larmorde warned that any public office holder who got involved in the theft of public funds would not go free.
He said that the commission had put in place the machinery to track those stealing and taking such loot outside the country.
“…We cannot be in a hurry, the most important thing is that people should know that a lot is going on, and any person, either a man or woman, occupying public office, who decides to put her hand or his hand in government coffers to steal, would not have any hiding place.
“Whether you take the money outside this country or not, there is machinery in place to trace this money and also bring such individuals to justice,” Lamorde added
He commended the Met Police for complementing the efforts of the commission to discourage people from stealing public funds in the country.
Larmorde added that the UK had also ensured that assets bought with stolen money were returned to the Nigerian government.
He said some assets that had been confiscated by the UK would soon be returned to the country.
The leader of the Met Police Delegation, Benton, assured Nigerians of the readiness of the UK Police to support the EFCC as London remained one of the major destinations of people embarking on holidays and those who wanted to buy houses.
He said, “The International Financial Centre in London do play a part in the way money worked, the way money is flown and the way money is moved and where people like to buy houses and where they spent their holidays and some chose school.”
Lamorde also spoke on the state of the ongoing cases against some former governors in the country.
He complained about the criminal justice system that created room for lawyers to embark on deliberate measures to delay cases involving influential politicians.
The EFCC boss stated, “Abubakar Audu was charged to court in 2006; we started in Lokoja, we went to Supreme Court three times with him, for everything they will put an application that they don’t like the judge,. the judge is biased, but if you say no, then go to the Court of Appeal, then Supreme Court, we are now at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
“In the case of Saminu Turaki, we had to obtain a bench warrant. Currently he is a wanted person because he has refused to show up for trial. We started here in Abuja, they contested jurisdiction; the trial was taken to Dutse. In the case of Jolly Nyame, we are still at the High Court in Abuja with him, and he is still contesting.
“In the case of Joshua Dariye, we have been in court and he has been a senator. The man in Ekiti, we were in court with him and he is now elected governor of Ekiti State again.
“I think we have to look at the criminal justice system in this country, it is not a question of arrest of the individuals; we have arrested people, we have charged them to court, 2006 to date is how many years? And yet we are still at the preliminary level because these people can afford good lawyers that will continue to prolong the trial.
“Please, continue to monitor the trial in court, because if journalists are there, a judge will think twice before granting some applications, he will think that people are watching me, and my decisions will be reported.
“It is time for all of us as a country to look at the criminal justice system so we can address some of these shortcomings and deal with them.”[Punch]