Contrary to widespread belief that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) cannot swing into action on a corruption case except it is petitioned, the commission has said that it has the right to take over ownership of properties of any errant person if it appears to the commission that the person is living a lifestyle far and above his or her means.
The chief of staff to the EFCC Chairman, Mr Kayode Oladele, who made this disclosure in an interview with LEADERSHIP yesterday, said the anti-graft commission derives such powers from Section 7(1) (a) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004.
The section states that, “the Commission has power to cause investigations to be conducted into the properties of any person if it appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income”.
Oladele further said that the powers of EFCC are wider than its responsibilities, explaining that the commission, according to the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006, is also tasked with fighting money laundering, advance fee fraud and recovery of trapped funds in failed banks.
“In the whole of Africa, EFCC is the only commission that has power to investigate and prosecute at the same time, whereas other commissions only investigate and make recommendations to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF)”, he said.
Asked if it was true that the EFCC had to wait for the National Judicial Council, NJC’s action before moving against an errant judge, Oladele said that there is a provision for such law. According to him, the EFCC only waits for NJC to do its “administrative function” as a matter of courtesy.
“We can move against any errant judge without waiting for the NJC’s action for such practice and the judges do not have immunity”, he added.